Here's the last in my 4 part series interviewing C.J. Darlington.
What is your second novel about?
It’s working title is Innocent Blood, and it’s a sequel to Thicker Than Blood in that some of the main characters of Thicker (Christy, Hunter, May) become minor characters in Innocent. But I also introduce some new people. And I will say this . . . someone you know from Thicker Than Blood dies in this second novel! :)
Is there anything else you’d like to say to my blog readers?
I still can’t believe people actually want to read what I have to say! Ha. Thanks so much for doing this interview, sis. You asked great questions!
FUN FACTS/TRIVIA QUESTIONS:
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I was homeschooled for all of my schooling years, and I know Morse Code. I’m surprised I haven’t forgotten, but back in the day it was a requirement to be a ham radio operator (I still have my license.)
When you’re not writing what do you enjoy doing?
Reading, camping, going to the movies.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A bowl of Nutty Nuggets, which is basically the store brand version of Grape Nuts. Good stuff!
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Organic eggs, milk and Romaine heads of lettuce.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
A grande triple cappuccino. Sometimes I’ll have them add a flavoring, like sugar-free vanilla or caramel, but I’m trying not to have too much of those chemicals. Can’t resist sometimes though!
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Well, here’s another surprising thing, I guess. I don’t have an iPod! But in my cd player and computer playlist you can find Mute Math’s “Spotlight” EP, Andy Hunter’s “Colour”, Iona’s “Woven Cord”, and Paramore’s “Riot” CD.
Tell me how you felt when they brought the cover out for you to see?
I was overjoyed! In one glance I knew the designer really got the story. It’s better than I could’ve dreamed.
When will Thicker than Blood be coming out?
I don’t have an official release date yet, but it should release late 2009 or early 2010. I’ll keep you posted!
Who is your favorite character in your story and why?
Oh, my. What a tough question. I think I would have to say Christy Williams, the main character, just because I spent so much time with her during the writing. But there’s a secondary character named Beth, the local veterinarian, who I really like. She adds some of the lighter moments to the book. I wish she was my friend! Hey . . . I guess in a way she is . . .
If your book were made into a movie, who would you have in it and make it?
Another tough question! I’ve thought long and hard on this one. As far as movie companies, I would pick either Worldwide Pictures (the movie arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) because I think they would really get what I was trying to say with the book. Or Jenkins Entertainment run by Dallas & Jerry Jenkins. They are making films that are gritty in their portrayal of reality yet don’t stray from sharing hope and truth. Exactly what I’m trying to do with my books.
Actors is another ball of wax that deserves more thinking time . . . okay. Tracey Gold, who’s been in a lot of tv movies would make a great Christy, I think. May could be played by an unknown, up and coming actress because I can’t think of anyone else who fits!
“That’s our instruction Book for life, His Love Letter to us,” Rebecca says. “Every day when we’re on the tour we have devotions. It’s a challenge to find time to be in the Bible, but it is a very big deal to me. So every day, whether it be backstage before I go on, in the motor home on the way to a concert, or here in the hotel room I set aside the time to feed my soul with God’s Word.”
Can’t understand your Bible? Too many “thee’s” and “thou’s”? Rebecca says, “I encourage people to read The Message Bible, besides whatever translation they usually read. It’s like a paraphrase, but it’s very easy to understand. A kind of ‘in your face’ message.” So find time to read your Bible, even if it’s just five minutes. “If we’re committed to living God’s way,” Rebecca continues, “we’ve got to be digging in the Bible, because otherwise we don’t know how to live.” God’s Word can change your life!
Here's part 2 of my interview with my sister C.J. Read Part 1 here.
Why did you enter the Operation First Novel contest?
I entered out of desperation, really. I was getting so discouraged. I’d been submitting my novel to publishers and receiving nothing but rejection. I was days away from putting it in a drawer and focusing on other projects. But I was prompted to enter the contest late one night. I was hoping to place as a semi-finalist just to give my confidence a much-needed boost. I never expected to win!
How did you find out about the contest?
I first heard about it in Writer’s Digest magazine. The Christian Writers Guild had an ad for their very first Operation First Novel contest. That put it on my radar, and I’ve been following the Guild ever since.
How many entries were there?
I believe this year there were 132 entries.
How long did it take you to write Thicker than Blood?
From initial idea to contracted book? Almost fifteen years. But I didn’t work on it every day by any means. However, the characters were always with me. I made a commitment to get serious with my writing when I was eighteen. I finished Thicker Than Blood when I was 24. So really the majority of the work happened during that time.
What did the judging process look like?
You know, I’m really not sure. I know they selected nine semi-finalists and four finalists. I don’t know for sure who all was involved in that selection. But I do know the four finalists were sent to the Tyndale fiction acquisition team who made the final decision on the winner.
C.J. Darlington is my twin sister, and her novel Thicker Than Blood will soon be published by Tyndale House. She started writing the novel fifteen years ago. I remember her saying, "Someday you'll see my novel on the shelves." I also remember she'd lay in bed at night and ask me things like, "What do you think of this character name?" or "What should my main character do next?" or "How can I get this character into more trouble?"
I've interviewed Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, and so many other musicians . . . it's rather weird to be interviewing my own sister! But it's also fun to make her think!
Here's the first installment:
Tracy: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
C.J.: I have written stories ever since I was a little kid. My most ambitious was called “The Horse’s Story”. I remember starting it when I was eight or nine on my Dad’s old word processor. It was about a horse named Loopter who would become Joshua of the Bible’s horse. He was going to be a witness of the walls of Jericho falling down, but . . . I never finished it.
Then there was my epic (started when I was twelve) called “Moby”, about a Labrador Retriever trying to find his place in this world. He tried being a lap dog (with some humorous consequences!), a fire dog, a police dog, a sheep dog . . . he never did find out what he was meant to be ‘cause I never finished that story either! Around this time was when I started dreaming of having a book published. I knew nothing of how it worked, but the seed was planted.
When I was fifteen I started a story that would change the way I thought about writing. It was about two sisters who hadn’t seen each other for years but eventually met again. That story became my first novel, Thicker Than Blood, which just won the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest and will be published soon by Tyndale.
Were books a big part of your life growing up? If so, what books would you say influenced you most as a child?(Photo pictures Karen Watson, C.J., and Jerry B. Jenkins)
I loved to read! One of my favorite activities was going to the library. My sister (you!) and I would come home with bags and bags full of books. I didn’t read every single one, but what a luxury to have so many available at my fingertips.
I’m trying to think of what book influenced me most . . . interestingly, I loved reading fictionalized accounts of historical figures. I loved the Childhood of Famous Americans series (Will Scout, Boy in Buckskins was a favorite), the Landmark series (I re-read The Swamp Fox of the Revolution several times), the We Were There series, and of course Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Jr. and the like filled my bags, too. And then there were the animal stories like 101 Dalmations, the Dr. Doolittle series, and a book called Brimm’s Boat. And Narnia. I LOVED Narnia. Man . . . I could go on and on and on.
I guess they all influenced me without me even realizing it. But later, when I was an early teen I picked up Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. Nothing was ever the same after that!
What inspired you to write Thicker than Blood?
It wasn’t like there was a huge inspirational moment, but that initial spark when I was fifteen came from some games my sister (you again!) and our dear friend Erica played as kids. We would pretend we were different characters, and basically role play stories we made up as we went along. One of the characters we used was named Christy and she had a sister named May who lived on a farm. All I knew when I started the story was that I wanted to write about these two sisters, one of them lived on a ranch/farm, and I wanted to have a Christian faith element. That basic idea is still there in Thicker Than Blood.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Infuze Magazine, and other publications. She is the co-founder of TitleTrakk.com has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Newsboys, and many others. In her spare time she can be found listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte.