I discovered just recently that Christine and I are almost neighbours. We both live in BC’s Central Fraser Valley just outside Vancouver, which is on the Pacific coast of Canada, about 200 miles north of Seattle.
Christine says it’s a special time in her life as she and her husband enjoy the empty nest, but also the noise and fun when the kids and grandkids come home. Like a lot of writers, her cat is her chief editor.
She writes historical Christian inspirational novels with strong love stories. She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects such as the themes in her debut novel SHADOWED IN SILK, which is set in India during a turbulent era. Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj was seeded from stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India. Shadowed in Silk won first place in the 2009 ACFW Genesis for Historical under the title Unveiled. Shadowed in Silk is being released by WhiteFire Publishing in two stages this year, first as an eBook on May 1, 2011, and as the printed version September 1, 2011.
Christine has kindly offered to give away of a copy of SHADOWED IN SILK in either the ebook or paper format to someone who comments on this post before 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 3rd. If the winner chooses the ebook it can be claimed this week. If the winner’s choice is a paper copy, a coupon will be issued for when it’s available in print.
CG: SHADOWED IN SILK is your debut novel. Please tell us about the story.
CL: After the Great War, Abby Fraser returns to India with her small son, where her husband Nick is stationed with the British army. Nick hasn’t written in four years, and when Abby finally catches up with him, she discovers that he has become a cruel stranger.
Major Geoff Richards is broken over the loss of so many of his men in the trenches of France. While Geoff is a devoted Christian, he struggles with anger over the way his British peers treat the Indian people he loves. Geoff also can’t help but notice that Nick Fraser is mistreating Abby and her little boy. Meanwhile Geoff is ordered to search out a Russian spy, throwing him into Abby’s social circle.
Abby discovers that Tikah, one of the servants, is more of a wife to Nick than she is. This other woman is Muslim, and she also is mistreated by Nick.
Amid growing political unrest within India, and threats from Afghanistan, tensions rise.
Abby and Geoff, caught between their own ideals and duty, stumble into the path of the Russian spy, and straight into the fire of revolution.
Shadowed in Silk deals with—and I think delicately—a tough subject, spousal abuse. It’s about how women are often mistreated in eastern cultures as well as western.
CG: Where did the idea for this story come from?
CL: I’ve always loved novels set in India, especially those by the great MM Kaye. But the story of Abby came about from watching my mum who was abused by my father when I was growing up. However, I want the readers to know there are no overt graphic scenes of violence in the book. In fact I’ve been told that I deal with the subject in a delicate manner. And there is so much more in the book. There is romance, and great adventure, as well as true historical events that shook the British Empire.
CG: This isn’t your first published work, is it? Would you like to share a bit about your contribution to THRIVING AS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY?
CL: I contributed to the non-fictional book compiled by David and Renee Sanford who are adoptive parents. I am a birthmother—a woman who relinquished her child to adoption. Adoption changed the way I look at everything, especially how I view God. I wanted to show how birthmothers often feel invisible.
It used to be that a great many birthmothers couldn’t even talk about their experiences, or the pain of giving up their child. Most birthmothers relinquish their child out of tremendous love for their baby. I wanted people to understand that.
CG: Everyone has a story about “the call” and “how I found my agent/editor/publisher.” Can you share a bit of the journey that led you to your publisher, Whitefire Publishing?
CL: Shadowed won the 2009 ACFW Genesis under the title Unveiled, and that garnered a lot of buzz for me and my book. But most of the CBA houses passed on it. At the same time, my agent decided to leave the business, and another very well known agent was ready to sign me up.
But after I gave this new agent the bad news, that about six of the major houses had already turned SiS down, she had to back out of her offer. I was pretty devastated. I’d been writing seriously for about ten years.
So there I was about two years ago—agent-less, and with a book no one wanted. I went on a missions trip to India, and was willing to give up my desires for a fictional career in order to do non-fictional work for free. That was when God seemed to bring my dead and buried fictional book back to life, and I got the call from WhiteFire. It just goes to show that you can’t out-give God.
CG: How long did it take you to write SHADOWED IN SILK? Was the first draft close to the finished product or did it go through multiple revision transformations?
CL: Multiple revisions for sure. I was working full-time when I first started researching this setting and era. And the actual writing took a while because of my job. It probably took about four years in all, on a part-time basis. But I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. As people are reading it, they are delighted with the exotic setting and historical detail, and I’m pleased with how it all turned out.
CG: Are you a writer who plots and outlines first, or do you dive in and figure things out as you go?
CL: I outline first, but as I write I often find the story takes on a life of its own, as I’m sure you’ve heard before. The characters start to come alive. So I am a bit of both—an outliner, and a seat of the panster.
CG: Give us a glimpse of where you do most of your writing.
CL: In our new townhouse there is a nice little office that overlooks a pasture. I sit on our old couch and tap away on my laptop, usually with the dog at my feet, and the cat beside me.
CG: Were there doubts, low times or obstacles for you along the way? How did you overcome them?
CL: Oh my goodness, were there doubts, etc. Many, many times. But each time I would relinquish my hopes and ambitions to God in the same way I surrender myself to Him as a living sacrifice each day. What’s the sense in banging your head against the wall, if something you want isn’t God’s plan for your life?
So I was always willing to give up my dream if the Lord wanted me to do something else. But each time I asked Him if I should quit, He would do something amazing to encourage me to keep on. One year He arranged for me to win a scholarship to the ACFW conference.
CG: Do you have any advice for writers who are a step behind you in their pursuit of publication? Anything that you wish you’d known before you waded in yourself?
CL: It will probably take you a lot longer than you think to polish your craft, and for the Lord to set up certain things for you to be noticed, to be in the right place at the right time. It will cost you much more than you realize in time, energy, and maybe even cost you financially. To become a writer can often mean giving up things in order to follow that calling. It’s not about making money. In fact you could make more money at your old day job. Ask God first if He wants you to do this. And surrender yourself to Him every day, and keep in mind—it’s all about Him. Nothing else is worthwhile.
CG: I understand SHADOWED IN SILK is being released as an e-book now, and then in book form in September 2011. What are your marketing and promotion plans.
CL: Promotion is harder than writing the book. Very uncomfortable. WhiteFire will use every connection they have—and they have many. Because it’s a small traditional press just starting out, they have a small line, and can easily promote each of their books fairly.
As for me, I am getting the word out on a more personal basis. Naturally, I’ll do all I can online to make Shadowed be noticed. But at the same time I never want to be pushy. It’s my desire that in every communication I have with readers, that I encourage them in some manner. It’s not about me just selling my book. I want to remain true to my prayer—to help others come to know God better. That means my book may not sell very well. But the Lord will provide my daily bread.
CG: Where can people buy copies of SHADOWED IN SILK?
CL: The paperback format will be released September 1st but is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com. The ebook version is available now in all formats from eBookIt and in Nook format from Barns & Noble.
CG: What’s next? Do you have another story in the wings?
CL: I have two—one is the sequel to Shadowed in Silk, and it’s called Captured by Moonlight. It will continue on with two of the characters from SiS, and will have lots of danger and suspense as well as romance.
The other book I’m working on is a historical romance set in Washington State in 1910. I call it Sofi’s Bridge for the time being. It’s about a young woman who feels duty-bound to ignore her artistic gift. And in 1910 it wasn’t very acceptable for a woman to want to design bridges.
CG: Anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to take the opportunity to mention?
CL: Like I said before, you can’t out-give God. After my reunion with my birthdaughter, I began to relive the pain of giving her up in the first place. God comforted my heart by encouraging me to write. So my birthdaughter became my muse. Through no planning on my part, it just all sort of happened quickly, the Lord arranged for my daughter to be the model on the front cover of my debut novel. Only a tender-hearted Father would do something so intricately kind.
CG: Thanks for sharing your publishing story with my readers, Christine. I wish you God’s continued blessings and much success with SHADOWED IN SILK.
If you have any questions for Christine, please leave them in a comment below. And don’t forget… someone who comments will win a copy of Christine’s new release, SHADOWED IN SILK.
Christine’s email: Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributor to: International Christian Fiction Writers Blog