Interview with Award-Winning Author CJ Darlington

Get to know C.J….

C.J. Darlington’s first novel, Thicker Than Blood, was the winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. Her second novel Bound by Guilt has just released from Tyndale House. She is the co-founder of the Christian entertainment website. She makes her home in Pennsylvania. When she’s not writing, she’s reading. Her hobbies include book and art collecting, horseback riding, painting and drawing. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

What initially drew you to writing?

It was a natural extension of my love for reading. Ever since I can remember, one of my favorite pastimes was visiting the library. I would come home with bags and bags of books. I remember sitting down at my dad’s old word processor and typing stories with names like, “The Horse Story” and “The Hot Dog”. I guess it was my way of doing something with an overactive imagination! Later when I was a teenager I was drawn to stories that described hurting people on their journey toward God. I’d always enjoyed reading storylines like that and wanted to tell some of my own.

Who is your favorite author?

I’ll always love Frank Peretti. His Darkness novels were part of what inspired me to write. More recent favorites include James Scott Bell, Sibella Giorello and James David Jordan.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come from all over the place! For example, the impetus for Bound by Guilt came from a newspaper article and a random thought I had while out walking in my back yard. Sometimes I’ll get an idea from seeing a person walking down the street and asking, “What if . . .” I got an idea for a short story years ago from watching an episode of the old TV show Rescue 911.

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

Right now I’m busy working on my third novel, but I can’t spill the beans quite yet on its plot. I will say that if you enjoyed Thicker than Blood and Bound by Guilt, I think you’ll enjoy this one. But since it’s still in the early stages, I try not to tell too much too soon.

What advice would you give young writers?

Write the book of your heart. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks (including editors and publishers) during the early stages of your writing. You’ll have plenty of time for that later. Ask yourself, “What is the story I really want to tell?” Then write it. If you aren’t passionate about your book, it’ll show on the page.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

My writing mentor James Scott Bell once told me that the best cure to the writing blues is the act of writing itself. If we write through our blue times, or our blocks, we won’t stay blue or blocked for long. But sometimes it just takes pressing on whether we feel like it or not.

More recently I received advice from my friend Sibella Giorello along the lines of what I shared above about writing the book that’s on our heart to write. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

When are you the most productive? (Morning, noon, or night?)

Most of my writing is done in the evenings. That works well for me.

Are your characters completely fictional? Or do you base them off real people?

They are mostly fictional, but occasionally I will take a personality trait from someone I know (or even myself) and apply it to my characters. I haven’t yet taken someone straight from life and plopped them into a story, though.

What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?

Both of my novels have been equally challenging, and equally rewarding. They were written at different times in my life, so what I brought to the table as far as technique varied for each. Thicker than Blood was written over a period of almost fifteen years, whereas Bound by Guilt took a lot less time.

What is your dream vacation?

An RV trip to Colorado! Or maybe even Alaska. I fell in love with the American West and would visit it every year if I could. Another vacation I’d love to take is to a working cattle or horse ranch. Not a dude ranch, but a real life working ranch. I would want to be put to work and experience all the trials and joys of that way of life.

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