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.
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