I'm thrilled to feature this author and this book on my blog. I was blessed to be able to read it for an endorsement. Welcome, Christine. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Life is tough. As a kid, mine certainly was, so I write a great deal of myself or of others close to me in my stories, changing the circumstances of course. But much of my character’s emotional and spiritual journey’s are taken from what I’ve observed up close or experienced.
I grew up in an unstable home. My father was an alcoholic who physically abused my mother. Right there—tons of fodder for stories. I understand how a woman can feel unseen and unloved. Like my mother, my character Abby Fraser grew up feeling invisible. But also like my mother, Abby refuses to submit to abuse.
When I was a young woman I became pregnant outside of marriage and relinquished my first child to adoption. There again, tons of emotional experiences to draw from—moral failure, but also courage. Because of closed adoptions back then, as the years passed I felt invisible to this child I had named Sarah. Though I continued to love and pray for her every day along with my other children that came later after I met my wonderful husband.
None of us have to look far for authentic sadness or trauma in our lives. What’s wonderful is seeing the redemptive hand of God bringing us through those hard times.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I thought I’d like to learn how to fly a small plane, but after the first free lesson I decided I really wasn’t that brave. Chicken is more like it. J
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
As a child I used to sit on the kitchen floor and draw pictures on my blackboard, and tell myself stories. In college I recognized my ‘knack’ for writing, but I never paid any attention to it . . . that is until the reunion with my birthdaughter, Sarah.
God was very good to me. When Sarah was 20 she and are were reunited as birthmother and birthdaughter. But at our reunion I began to relive the loss of relinquishing her in the first place.
Months later my husband found me sitting on the couch, crying. He went out and bought me a brand new pen and journal, and said, “Write it.”
My words flowed, and that was the beginning of a 12 year apprenticeship in writing. Not long afterward I felt the Lord urge me to put the emotional healing I had received into fictional stories to help others.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Big, fat historicals with plenty of adventure and romance, and always a happy ending. Life is too harsh to read sad endings. So MM Kaye with her Far Pavilions is a top favorite. Tricia Goyer, Bodie Thoene, Jack Cavanagh’s Songs in the Night series . . .
But I also love gritty murder mysteries—the British kind by authors like PD James. And I also read a lot of non-fiction, especially history.
And contemporary Christian women’s or romantic fiction—I adore Linda Nichol’s At the Scent of Water and Not a
. I’m a huge fan of Debra Raney’s and also of Lena Nelson Dooley. A good debut novel I just read was by Cathy West, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, set during the Vietnam War. Sparrow Falls
Thank you for including me in your list. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
To be honest, I’m not sure I am all that sane with the pace I’ve been keeping lately.
Seriously though, I start each day quietly with the Lord. Read a chapter from the Old and New Testament, and in His presence relinquish all of who I am, and all my ambitions. I love to write, but whatever I love, I hold out to Him to either take away or leave in my open hands. If God wants me to stop pursuing a writing ministry and teach Sunday School, or clean toilets, or go wherever—I will. It’s obeying Him that matters.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes in non-fiction from the era I’m studying. That’s where I found Geoff’s name, short for Geoffrey.
I watch the credits that go by at the end of every movie and TV show. I found 2 minor character’s names on Midsummer Murders. I think the producer’s name was True-May—so I used that for one of Geoff’s acquaintances.
And I’ll let you in on a secret I haven’t told anyone yet. Geoff’s last name, Richards, is for Cliff Richards. Cliff—if you don’t already know—is a wonderful Christian personality in
. As a little kid—a hundred years ago—I thought he was dishy. Britain
I found the name for Eshana, my little Hindu widow, on the web. It means “one having eyes like a deer.”
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Two-part accomplishment—relinquishing Sarah to another couple who loved her and raised her to be a happy committed Christian . . . and for raising the 3 children God gave my husband and I, to also be happy, committed Christians.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Definitely a pussycat. They’re charming, soft, they love to sleep, and purr. They take life simple and fulfill the purpose for which God created them. That’s all I want—to take life simply by being obedient to God, and let Him take care of whatever is supposed to happen, and let me cuddle up and purr on His lap.
What is your favorite food?
I’m Irish—born there—so I love my spuds. Pototoes. So a nice dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy is my comfort food. That, and a good strong cup of tea.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Finding the time to write because I must contribute to our household income by working outside the home. This takes much time and energy away from my creativity, but I commit to writing for an hour each day, no matter what. On days off, I write all day.
Tell us about the featured book.
Ah, the labor of my heart. Shadowed in Silk deals with—and I think delicately—a tough subject, spousal abuse. Women are often mistreated in eastern cultures as well as western, and neglect or abuse, done in secret, makes the victim feel invisible.
After the 4 long years of The Great War, Abby Fraser returns to
with her small son, where her husband is stationed with the British army. But when she finally catches up with Nick in the north of India , she discovers he’s a cruel stranger. And Nick has secrets, one of them is the woman, Tikah, who isn’t quite a servant in the house. As Abby tries to sort out her marriage difficulties, a Russian spy enters her social circle. Unbeknownst to everyone, this spy is stirring up rebellion in India . India
The strong, silent hero is Major Geoff Richards who suffers from shellshock and is broken over the loss of so many of his men in the war. Abby’s little boy,
Cam, tugs on Geoff’s heart, but Geoff is afraid to believe there is any joy left in this life. While Geoff is a devoted Christian, he’s angry at how his British peers mistreat the Indian people. And as Geoff befriends Cam he can’t help but notice that Nick Fraser is mistreating Abby.
As an honorable Christian man Geoff can’t do much, but he tries to advise Abby to protect herself and
Cam. He also encourages Abby to make friendships with some Indian Christian women he knows, who are former Hindu widows, and who know all about being abused and neglected. Meanwhile Geoff is ordered to search out the Russian spy, throwing him often into Abby’s social circle.
As things get worse for Abby, it becomes clear that she can’t solve all of her problems by herself. She starts to wonder if her little Christian ayah, Eshana, really does have the answers. Maybe there is a way for God to really see her.
This human drama is set against a true historical event that shook the
British Empire, setting in motion the Indian independence, and skyrocketing Gandhi to fame.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Abby Fraser gripped the railing of the
and lifted her chin to defy the solitary expanse of sea. She refused to believe a wife needed an invitation to join her husband. The war was over at last. Nick and she were married, and it was about time he remembered that. New Delhi
One of the Queen Alexandra nurses escorting the Indian troops home stood beside Abby. With a rustle of starched cotton, Laine Harkness leaned over and whispered in her ear. “Why do you look like you’re headed for the Black Hole of Calcutta and not about to have a passionate reunion with the love of your life?”
Abby ran a hand down her linen skirt and watched the blue line of shore draw closer. What could she possibly say? Instead of replying she cuddled her little son,
Cam, nearer to her side. In less than an hour he’d meet his father for the first time. Had she been foolish not to wait for an answer from Nick? So few letters from him in four years.
“I know you’re American,” Laine went on, “but I assure you, the only thing to be afraid of in this part of the
British Empire is the wife of your husband’s commanding officer.” She shuddered with drama and grinned maliciously. “Once you’re settled in your shady little army cantonment, the old battle-axe will whip you into shape in no time. Then you’ll be quite the proper memsahib. It’s them that run the colony for us Brits. Don’t you think for a minute it’s the Viceroy or our army—it’s the average colonel’s wife.”
Abby crinkled her nose as she smiled. “You win. Is this better?”
“Much better. You were altogether too peaked for meeting your handsome lieutenant.”
New Delhi sliced her way through the narrows of Kolaba Point, and the familiar scent of reached out to Abby. Laine was right. No sense worrying. Tucking a strand of hair into her chignon, she savored a tantalizing whiff of overripe fruit, roses, marigolds and cloves, mingled with the acrid smell of dust . . . Bombay
Drop by my website for a visit. There you can also read my entire relinquishment to adoption and reunion story. Within that story are chapters written by my birthdaughter’s adoptive mom as well. It’s honest, and it shows the tenderness of God toward the both of us women who hungered for the same little baby.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you for the interesting discussion, Christine.
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