A true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa weaves stories of unscripted grace with threads of hope, humor, and heart. Her debut womens fiction, Walking on Broken Glass, is published by Abingdon Press. She contributes to “Exemplify” and “Afictionado”, the e-zine of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lovers Soul, Chicken Soup for the Divorced and Recovering Soul, Cup of Comfort, and “The Ultimate Teacher”.
Christa is the mother of five adult children, a grandmother of three, and a teacher of high school English. She and her husband Ken live in Abita Springs, Louisiana, where they and their three cats enjoy their time playing golf, anticipating retirement, and dodging hurricanes. Find more information about Christa at http://www.christaallan.com/.
SDC: Welcome Christa. Please tell us what inspiration went behind the penning of your most recent book.
Christa: The story grew from my realization that our lives don’t always follow the scripts we’ve expected. Because of that, we sometimes find ourselves frustrated, lonely, confused, angry. We think God’s abandoned us, when-ironically-we may be following God’s script for our lives. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and by God’s grace, have not had a drink for over twenty years. I invited God back into my life because of AA, not in spite of it. As I grew in my faith and in my recovery, I realized that so many Christian families suffer in silence. Alcoholism, drug, sex, or food addiction, lifestyles are all the big elephants in the room we don’t talk about. But we all know they exist. So, what’s someone to do who’s immersed in these challenges? I wanted to reassure women struggling with addiction that they’re not alone, that there’s a loving and compassion God who cares about them and His grace will be sufficient for them. I wanted to remove the façade that often hinders real recovery. “Good” Christian families aren’t immune to the world, but once we admit we have a problem, we can be healed by God.
SKC: Thank you for sharing that. I know it will minister to many who read it. I also can see how it will play a great part in your writing. As a writer do you believe you are self-taught or have you learned a lot from others? And tell us about some of the authors who have given you insight on how to express your own voice or taught you the most about development of style
Christa: In high school I realized that I couldn’t sing, dance, paint, play sports, play an instrument…but I could write. Sometimes we tend to take our gifts for granted thinking that if it’s something we’re good at, then it can’t possibly be “worth” anything. So, in that sense, I believe that I-like many authors-have a certain innate propensity. It’s the gift that God gave me, and it’s my choice as to how I will develop and use it.
I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I truly my writing benefitted, and still does, from reading. In fact, as a high school teacher, I’ve noticed that reciprocal connection more than even. My strongest writers are my most enthusiastic readers. That being said, I think it’s crucial that we expose ourselves in reading to authors whose work we admire and aspire to. I’m not sure there’s enough space to talk about writers who have influenced me! A few: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lisa Samson, Harper Lee, William Faulkner, Mary DeMuth. . .
SKC: William Faulkner was one of my favorites early on. Reading played a great part in my life as well to draw me in to becoming a writer. What about when you are in the middle of a project. Let's go there. When you are in the middle of series and deadlines does it cramp your creativity, or enhance it, and in what way?
Christa: Deadlines force me to write on demand, so I spend far less time “obsessing” over what I write. Sometimes, the creativity is sacrificed for expediency.
SKC: I receive a lot of different angles on how well to approach a deadline. Thanks for sharing yours. After the deadline comes and your books are out, how would you say your readers are responding to your work so far? What are some of the comments you have received that have blessed you or taught you where you need improvement, Christa?
Christa: When I saw the review form Publisher’s Weekly waiting in my email, I almost didn’t want to read it! But it was surprisingly positive, and my publisher (Abingdon), even used a snippet from it on my cover. Leah’s story seems to have resonated with readers, and that was my greatest prayer— that her story would bring people hope. Also, readers appreciate that her story, though gritty and real, is told with a degree of wit.
SKC: That's great for we don't always receive that positive response. Or at least we are never sure what to expect. How difficult it is for you to keep up a website and blog on a regular basis to promote your work?
Christa: Exceedingly! I’m drowning in paperwork between the papers I need to grade for school, the online class I’m teaching, keeping up my social networking, marketing, and writing!
SKC: I bear witness. But I'll bet, from the way you've answered these questions thus far, even that has been an boost to keep you going. Who would you say is the most inspiring character in the book you have coming out soon and why?
Christa: Leah, the main character, continues in the responses and reviews I’ve received to be the most inspiring. Publisher’s Weekly said, “Leah is fascinating, complicated, and above all funny.” She finds the strength to start the journey to wholeness even when all the odds seem against her.
SKC: Leah sounds like an intriguing character. Tell us about more about the book you hope to share with one of our readers.
Christa: Leah's Thornton's life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice in the supermarket shatters the façade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears. When her best friend gets in Leah's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision. Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah's commitment to her marriage, her motherhood, and her faith.
SKC: That's a good taste. Thanks, Christa. As I mentioned in our e-mails back and forth, I like to have the guest authors send out a thought-provoking question to our readers. Will you do that for us too? If you were to ask a question to readers today about anything, what would it be?
Christa: [Here it is] What topics don’t you find in Christian fiction that you want to read?
SDC: Thanks Christa. And to our guests, please take the time to answer the above question if you are interested in winning a copy of Christa's book. Names will be drawn at random. Please don't forget to include your e-mail address. If I can't locate you I always have to draw another name.
And to Christa, I can’t thank you enough for coming by to visit. I look forward to the opportunity I shall make for myself to read some of your work soon. As we close, please let our readers know where they can locate you or your books.
Christa: Thanks for hosting me here. I appreciate the opportunity. Readers can find my book at Cokesbury, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other online venues.
Congratulations to our winner! You are going to love the book, Casey Herringshaw of Burns, Oregon. Be watching for your book in the days ahead.
And THANK YOU for coming to A Pen for Your Thoughts.
A woman dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple personality disorder). Or for that matter, one who is dealing with schizophrenia. These are difficult things to deal with but I would love to see them written about. Yes, you'll need to do a lot of research!ReplyDelete
It would help the mainstream society understand some of their issues.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com
Wives of husbands that are disabled with schizophrenia....or.just talking about schizophrenia. There is almost no books written about this. Also, books where normal people struggle with eating disorders and they are not considered by everyone as really messed up people......I see from the comment above I am not alone in this. My husband is a PS, and I am really alone and I know I really am not....but people do not understand the disease at all. martha(at)lclink(dot)comReplyDelete
How Christians can accept the freedom that Christ wants them to have!ReplyDelete
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I would like to see a book where schizophrenia is dealt with either in the woman or someone close to her in the family. That seems to be a subject that isn't brought up and yet it is a reality. It is something hard to address but something that a lot of people go through.ReplyDelete
You know, I don't think I have an answer to that question. I don't know when I last saw a book on acholism, this would have to be something I will have to think about. I often find books I think are interesting and read them, regardless of the topic. :)ReplyDelete
I would really like to read this book, please enter me!
Thanks, so much, for all of your feedback. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back here. My internet has been uncooperative, so Ive been "unplugged" for over a day. Whew. Now THAT's a crisis!ReplyDelete
I don't know that I would have realized that schizophrenia touches the lives of so many families. Martha, Jo and Linda, thanks for sharing this. Eating disorders is an area that I see as an issue, especially because I teach high school and witness body image problems among teen girls.
Casey and Andrea, thanks for your comments and for dropping by.
What a fantastic interview. Thanks, Christa, for sharing your experiences. I look so forward to this book! I'm so glad Abingdon is publishing such great stories that touch on difficult topics.ReplyDelete
Shirley, don't enter me in the drawing. I'm ordering it. :)
I am so encouraged by the comments here because I have a story that I will now finish based on my mom, a paranoid schizophrenic, that I fictionalized. I was Mom's Full Legal Guardian for 7 years and so I bring that to the table for this story. It's an inspirational romance now. (A slight change in the ms.)ReplyDelete
I won the 2007 Touched By Love Long Contemporary for What She Didn't Know but my mom died during the contest. I didn't finish the book. I set it aside for a time I could go back with less struggle. Now I'm finishing one book this month and I'll start getting back into that book next month. So for me, yes, I want to see schizophrenia dealt with in fiction in a caring, supportive manner.
Please feel welcome to browse the posts I have in my blog on schizophrenia. Thank you so much for this post and for the comments that you all left afterward! You all have lifted me up today so very much!
I would love to be entered in the contest for Walking On Broken Glass.
Great interview! The book sounds awesome and much needed.ReplyDelete
Such great comments and insights I read coming in about what is needed in a book, and what people are writing.ReplyDelete
I look forward to selecting the winner of Christa's exciting book probably tomorrow. If anyone else decides to write in, now is the time.
Look forward to hearing from you.