Sunday, January 17, 2010

Interview & Book Giveaway : C.J. Darlington

" . . . But just because we cast the line, doesn’t mean the fish will bite . . . Does that mean we should give up and never fish again? No, it just means we need to keep on casting. Maybe today isn’t our day. But tomorrow might be."
-- debut author C.J. Darlington

C. J. Darlington began writing the story that would become Thicker than Blood (her first novel) when she was a fifteen-year-old homeschool student. She received so many rejections over the next dozen years that she "almost gave up . . . almost put it away in a drawer." Then in 2008, Thicker than Blood won the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel--which offered a publishing contract with Tyndale House. This book has released to rave reviews.

From the back cover:

"Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged younger sister, May, whom she abandoned after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon, Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. Could May’s Triple Cross Ranch be the safe haven she’s searching for? Will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late?"

Yes, this book is as wonderful as it sounds. I was grateful to receive a review copy of Thicker than Blood from Tyndale House, was hooked from the first paragraph--and read it straight through, non-stop. Action, suspense, emotion, enduring hope: this book has it all! I encourage you to pick up a copy, and to get the ball rolling I'm delighted to offer this interview with C.j. and a chance at . . .

A BOOK GIVEAWAY: I'm offering my ( oh-so gently treated) copy of Thicker than Blood. Leave a comment about this post and I'll include your name in a drawing. The book winner will be announced here on Monday January 25th. To discourage spam please leave any included e-mail address in "code." Example: candace (at) candacecalvert (dot) com.

And now, I'm pleased to share my interview with author C.J. Darlington:

Candace: Your non-writing passions are fascinating, C.J.
For instance, fly fishing. It recalls the novel and Academy Award winning movie “A River Runs Through It”—with a theme that compares fly fishing with life. May I challenge you, then, to find some similarities between fly fishing and writing?

C.J.: What a great question to start things off. Fly fishing is like the process of a writer searching for a publisher. Our flies are our manuscripts. Each cast is us sending out a query letter or proposal. The fish are the editors searching for a project to buy. It’s important to research what the fish like and when they like it.

But just because we cast the line, doesn’t mean the fish will bite. Maybe they’re not hungry. What if the trout aren’t interested in mosquitoes today? Our fly might be tied perfectly, but the fish just aren’t hungry for it right now.

Then sometimes a fish will bite, but right when we think we have them, they spit out the hook. Does that mean we should give up and never fish again? No, it just means we need to keep on casting. Maybe today isn’t our day. But tomorrow might be.

In Thicker than Blood, you have several very strong secondary characters, among them veterinarian Beth, ranch hand Jim, Ruth, and Aunt Edna. They are so wonderfully written that I found myself wanting to “see” through their eyes. Have you considered (or attempted) writing scenes via a secondary character’s points of view?

I actually wrote a scene in Aunt Edna’s perspective that was cut during the editing process. It was the only scene in her point of view, so we felt it wasn’t necessary. It would’ve been fun to write scenes through the eyes of some of the secondary characters, but I felt it was important to limit the point of view to as few characters possible.

Your troubled heroine Christy’s experience with men has for the most part brought her hurt and heartache; May, on the other hand, feels content in her life without a love relationship. As a reader, I can’t help but hope for more for each young woman. Can you tell us if romance will play a part in the sequel to Thicker than Blood?

Well, Christy’s the type of woman who would definitely be happiest finding true romance, so I could see her settling down someday. I’m just not sure I’ll be writing about it! Ha ha. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not a very good romance writer. Love does play a big part in my stories, but it’s usually familial love. But let me just say that within the first few chapters of the sequel you’ll find out the answer to your question, at least as far as Christy is concerned. It was hinted at in Thicker than Blood.

Which of these elements of scene writing do you enjoy most? Least? Why? -- Physical action, intense dialogue, humor, imagery, flashback, painful “dark moments,” romantic interludes.

Physical action and intense dialogue are the hardest for me to write. Perhaps because with action scenes you really have to slow things way down to make them work. Dialogue is so important too---selecting the exact right words, the tags, beats, and you have to get the rhythm perfect.

I’d say imagery and painful dark moments come easiest. I’m really quite mean to my characters sometimes! I try to avoid flashbacks whenever possible, but they have their place and can be fun to write. Romantic interludes are definitely not my strong point, as you’ve already picked up by the lack of them in Thicker than Blood. If I try too hard to write humor it ends up coming off stilted, so it’s usually just something that happens to come naturally out of the writing.

You are a painter and art enthusiast as well as writer. Just for fun, let’s imagine you are painting a portrait of three characters in Thicker than Blood. You’re limited to a single color/media type for each. Describe how you would artistically depict May Williams, Christy, Vince Dubois?

May would be a pencil drawing. She’d be dressed in work clothes---her jeans, chaps, cowboy hat, gloves . . . probably riding a horse.

Christy would be an oil painting using lots of shadows and black. It would probably picture her looking off into the distance, a sad and lost expression on her face.

Vince would be a caricature, like those in political cartoons, drawn with red markers.

In comparison to your long years of studying writing craft and submitting your manuscript to editors, the leap from Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest winner to debut novelist must have seemed breathtakingly fast. Was there any part of the publication process—editing, marketing and publicity, actual production--that took you by surprise?

I was just thinking about how fast it all went. From finding out my book won the contest to holding the final book in my hand was less than a year. What surprised me most was how smoothly everything went. I had allowed myself to worry about the process all during my trying to get published, and I shouldn’t have. Tyndale House, as you know, is wonderful.

The antiquarian book business is a fascinating part of the Thicker than Blood plot, one which you write from personal experience. Your love of books—heft, texture, scent—is beautifully apparent. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Thicker than Blood is also available in electric format. Do you own (or can you see yourself owning) a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader?

I do not own an e-reader. There is absolutely nothing like holding a real book in your hands. I hope they never go away. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t own an e-reader in the future. It would come in awfully handing when traveling. Books don’t pack very well.

Will you describe your writing space for us, please?

As I write this I am in my bedroom typing at my laptop on a foldable table that slips beside my dresser at night. I also write at the dining room table. Wherever I can, really. Someday I would love to have my own little office space, but I’m thankful for what I have.

How did it feel to hold a copy of Thicker than Blood in your hands for the very first time?

Surreal. I could hardly believe it was happening. It still hits me sometimes that people are actually reading something I wrote!

The cover for your novel is exquisite. How much input did you have on the design?

Tyndale surprised me with the cover on stage when Jerry Jenkins announced Thicker than Blood as the winner of the Operation First Novel contest. It was everything I could’ve hoped for. I love how they perfectly captured the story.

Obviously you’d like your book to reach as many readers as possible, but if its message could resonate with (and positively effect the life of) a single reader, would you describe what sort of person you’d want that to be?

I would love to hear about someone giving a copy of the book to an inmate. I picture a person who’s hit rock bottom, kinda like my main character Christy. They’ve heard about God, but He’s never been real to them. Maybe they think they’ve fallen too far to be redeemed. I would love for this one to read the book and really understand how much God loves them. That no one’s ever too far gone.

Imagine that Thicker than Blood has been optioned for film. Who would play Christy? May? Vince? Hunter?

Sometimes I think Tracey Gold would play Christy well. But since this question has mostly stumped me, I asked my dad who he thought would play them (he watches more movies than I do). He thought Sandra Bullock might play a good Christy, Hunter could be a younger Harrison Ford, and he picked Meg Ryan for May. Neither of us know who would play Vince!

You’ve been hunched over the keyboard typing for hours, your daily goal has been met and you’re ready for an indulgent snack—what is it?

Chili and Lime tortilla chips. With a cappuccino!

Back to fishing: Catch and release, or batter and fry? You’re a fiction writer; ever told a whopper fishing tale?

Catch and release. I tell myself I’d like to catch and cook my own fish someday, but when it actually came down to, uh, ending the poor creature’s life, I always chicken out. And no, sorry to disappoint, but I haven’t told any whoppers lately.

Three words that best describe you would be . . . ?

Analytical, cautious, sensitive.

My twin sister Tracy answered: Spontaneous (sometimes), Hermit, Novelist

And now, before we end: Will you please share a favorite Scripture?

Romans 5:6-8: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Wonderful, C.J. Thank you. And now I'd like to offer one more treat for my readers: A dramatic trailer for the award-winning Thicker than Blood:

Additional information about author C.J. Darlington may be found in these links:

Remember to leave a comment below, and your name will be included in the January 25th drawing for a copy of Thicker than Blood.


Diana Prusik said...

I love CJ's analogy between writing and fishing. What a wonderful way to encourage aspiring authors to persevere! Thanks for sharing the interview, Candace.

Diana Prusik

Unknown said...

What an awesome book trailer! I would absolutely love, love, love to win this book. Great interview, C.J. and Candace.

Anonymous said...

Great interview!
I'm so happy for C.J. and know this was a long time coming...

I'm truly blessed by the kindness and encouragement you've both shown me... and I think you are both pretty awesome... thank you!

Melinda Lancaster said...

Wonderful interview about what appears to be a very inspiring book.
Please count me in for this drawing.
Melinda Lancaster

Lisa said...

I enjoyed reading reading your interview. It's nice to learn about the storyteller as well as the story itself. Can't wait to read the book
Lisa Stowell

Merry said...

CJ sounds like such an interesting lady. I'd love a chance to win Thicker Than Blood. Thanks!


CandaceCalvert said...

Thank you all for leaving comments (and entering the giveaway!). It's been great getting to know C.J. and I know you'll enjoy her book.

B. J. Robinson said...

I'd love to win a review copy, and I'd read and do reviews :) It sounds like a great novel, and I love the picture of the cover she's holding. Beautiful. Congratulations.

Cara Putman said...

I love the concept of this book. Can't wait to read it. Congrats again, CJ!

Cara Putman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keli Gwyn said...

What an awesome interview. I loved your insightful questions, Candace, which allowed CJ to reveal a great deal about herself, her writing, and her powerful debut novel.

I've heard so many great things about her book and look forward to reading it.

CandaceCalvert said...

Again, I so appreciate your enthusiasm for C.J.'s debut. Yes, she IS such an inspiring and delightful person, and her (long-awaited) debut novel is both unique and engaging. You'll love it. Can't wait to add all of your names to my crystal book-giveaway bowl and choose a winner. Monday morning, sharp! :-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Candace, I left a comment earlier, but please don't enter me in the contest. I was just out shopping and came home with CJ's book. Found it on the same shelf with another great title I highly recommend, Critical Care, written by a very talented author named Candace. :)

squiresj said...

I would love to win this book. I've tried winning it before. It looks like I'm going to have a lot of time to read with the bad news I got yesterday.

Rel said...

Hey Candy & CJ - sorry it has taken so long for me to read your interview and comment! GREAT interview ~ qu's and answers but then I expect nothing less from two wonderful writers and even more amazing women :)

Love and hugs

PS. Don't include me in the giveaway. I have a copy already.

Unknown said...

Great interview! CJ is a woman of many hats!!! I write and that's about it!!! Haha!!! I would love to be entered into the drawing! Thanks!!!

Alisa Hope

sanctifiedtogether (at) yahoo (dot) com

CandaceCalvert said...

Keli, you made me smile--C.J. is my shelf-mate. I love that!

Rel--so kind, thank you. And you provide such an awesome service with your review blog site.

Again, to all of you: I so appreciate your stopping by to read about C.J.--such a shining new star. I can't wait for you to read her work.

I'll be doing that book giveaway drawing first thing Monday. :-)

C.J. Darlington said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, and Candace... you're a gem! I'm very thankful for the time you took to ask such great questions! Really fun interview. Thank you.

. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tessa Emily Hall said...

I would like to be entered in the drawing. Thank you! :)


CandaceCalvert said...

C.J., thank you for stopping by. Getting to know you better via this interview has been wonderful!

Tessa, you are entered in the drawing as well. :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow what a fabulous interview with CJ. I have been hearing about this one for a while and cannot wait to read it...and the trailer was amazing :)


crittyjoy {at} gmail {dot} com

Magdalena said...

Great Interview and a very funny way to make writers to go on...I liked the most "I wish the cop will shoot me", very funny (Christy wished the cop would just shoot her.)
I am very happy taht she did nto agve up on writing!!! I read some of CJ reviews on books at I wish to win that book!!!
Thanks Candance, I read your book by the way and love it,

Magdalena Marocik