Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I try to write the type of books I would like to read. One of my favorite genres is suspense, so there’s usually a thread of that in my stories. But I’m also drawn toward deep characters and situations that demand a lot out of them. I love stories where hurting people find hope and forgiveness. Through my writing I hope to share the Greatest Story Ever Told by showing no one’s ever too far gone for God. It only takes one step back to Him, or one step toward Him you’ve never taken, to find yourself wrapped in His loving arms.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
One of the most exciting days in my life so far was when Jerry B. Jenkins announced my first novel Thicker than Blood as the winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. For so many years I’d dreamed of sharing my fiction with readers, but winning the contest made the dream come true. I’ll never forget that.
I'm sure you won't. How has being published changed your life?
It’s allowed me to share the stories that have been crowding my head for years. That’s a wonderful blessing. But I’m the same person now that I was before I was published. I think a misconception people have about being published is that it will change your life.
I know what you mean. I'm still a wife, mother, grandmother, cook, etc. I just happen to write novels. What are you reading right now?
Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the trials people with Lyme disease often face. And you know it’s realistic as Brandilyn herself was healed from this awful disease several years ago.
I know. I was one of the authors who took part in the 24-hour prayer vigil for her. What a blessing! What is your current work in progress?
I just finished the rough draft of my third novel. About to start work on the next draft. I’m not under contract for it yet, and I can’t say a lot about the plot, but if you enjoyed Thicker than Blood and Bound by Guilt, I think you’ll enjoy this one too. Stay tuned!
I can hardly wait to hear the good news. What would be your dream vacation?
An RV trip to Colorado. I’ve done it before and it was a blast! I love the Rocky Mountains. Someday I’d also love to spend a week on a working cattle or horse ranch. Not a dude ranch, but a real working ranch where I’d be put to work like anyone else. I don’t know how much help I’d be, but I’d work my tail off for the experience!
How do you choose your settings for each book?
One of the major settings in both Thicker than Blood and Bound by Guilt is a huge used and rare bookstore called Dawson’s Book Barn. This store is based on the very first bookstore I scouted for as a teenager. That’s my day job---selling used and rare books. So I drew from things I’d experienced or heard others experience for this setting.
The other setting is the fictional town of Elk Valley, Colorado. It’s based on a real town I visited and fell in love with in southern Colorado. I love the West, and I knew I had to write about it.
Colorado is one of my favorite states to visit. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
There’s a horse trainer named Mark Rashid who I would love to sit and watch work with horses. He does clinics, but none of them are near me this year. I know I’d learn a lot by observing.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Plotting has been difficult in the past, but I’m learning how to overcome that. Writing a fast first draft has helped me tremendously.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write the book of your heart. Don’t worry about publishers, marketing, editors or readers AT ALL in the beginning. You’ll paralyze yourself. Instead, search inside and listen to that still small voice leading you to the story only you can tell. If you aren’t passionate about your story, it will show on the page. Then, once you finish your first book, get moving on to the next! Then whenever you do receive interest from a publisher you’ll have more than one thing to show them.
Tell us about the featured book.
Bound by Guilt is the story of a teen girl named Roxi Gold who’s been in and out of foster care for most of her life. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in---even if it’s against the law. Soon she finds herself traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Abby Dawson is a cop who’s seen the worst of society, but not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run.
Sounds intriguing. Please give us the first page of the book.
“Don’t you ever feel guilty?” Roxi Gold cracked open her icy can of Dr Pepper and took a long sip.
Diego fell into the seat across from her at the RV’s dinette table, opening his own can. Fizz erupted over its side. He licked it away and took a big gulp. “Not like we’re hurting anybody.”
“No, we’re just stealing thousand-dollar books.”
Diego eyed her. “You getting cold feet?”
She bent the silver tab of her soda can back and forth until it broke off in her fingers. A warm breeze blew through the window screen and filled her nose with the scent of dry pine needles. Could that be it? She just didn’t have the guts?
“Any idea how lucky you are?” Diego leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his head. “Nothing but the wind at our back, the open road before us . . .”
Roxi managed a smile. He was right. For the past three weeks she’d been traveling with her seventeen-year-old second cousin and his mom, Irene. The thirty-foot RV was like an apartment on wheels. She’d been to places other people only saw on the Internet, experiencing things she’d never forget. Not all of them were earth-shattering, Grand Canyon moments, either. In Flagstaff, Arizona, she’d seen her first bald eagle perched high in a rustic pine, majestic and totally unreal. She even rode in an Amish buggy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“This is our life,” Diego said, raking his hands through his black hair. “And it sure beats standing in line at a book sale for three days like we used to.”
“Doesn’t it ever bother you?”
He chugged down more soda, then belched. “Nope.”
“What if we get caught?”
“Come on, Rox.”
“They’d send me back to juvie.”
Diego leaned forward, both hands holding his drink. “Listen, we’re okay. We’re not gonna be caught. Ma’s careful.”
She downed half of her Dr Pepper in one shot just to keep herself from blabbing. She didn’t want Diego to know how she really felt
I like it. What a hook! I can hardly wait to read it. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website http://www.cjdarlington.com/ is a great place to start. Thanks very much for having me here, Lena!
My pleasure, C. J. Come back with the next book, too.
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