Friday, January 22, 2016

Interview With Author Christa Allan

I'm pleased to welcome fellow author Christa Allan to the blog today. Christa has had an interesting journey in her writing career, and although she and I might disagree on writing styles and subjects, her road to publication is noteworthy. I thought you'd like to hear it.

RM: Christa, the prologue to your first novel is some of the best writing I've ever read. I'd recommend that our readers use Amazon's "look inside" feature to read it. Tell us the story behind it.

CA: The Prologue in Walking on Broken Glass was actually written in response to a journal prompt (“if I had known…”) I’d given my students.  At least three days a week, my high school juniors would journal, and I would write with them. Ten minutes, no thinking, no worrying about spelling, grammar, mechanics. Just free writing without lifting the pen from the page.  As a writer, I believe journaling is an important organic process to accessing what’s really inside of us.  It’s what I go to when a novel idea creeps into my brain or when a character, situation—whatever—is stubbornly refusing to make itself known.

The story behind the novel?  I’ve been a recovering alcoholic for almost thirty years now, and have stayed sober by the grace of God.  When I discovered Christian fiction, I couldn’t find stories I could relate to in terms of my life experiences. So many of them seemed sanitized. I wanted to write, not only about what happens when the road to sobriety is under construction, but challenges Christians face. My character, Leah, is confronted by her BFF Molly, who tells her she’s drinking too much. Molly’s willingness to risk their friendship to tell Leah what she needed to hear was also something I wanted readers to know. So many times, we see friends struggling, and we’re afraid to speak out and tell them the truth. If my friend had not summoned the courage to talk to me about my drinking, I’m not sure when or if I would have taken the steps to treatment. 

RM: I know you had some problems getting your first two novels accepted by a Christian publisher. Would you tell us about that:

CA: I will forever be grateful to Abingdon Press for opening the door to publishing Walking on Broken Glass and The Edge of Grace, the novel based on my relationship with my brother, who is gay.  At a writing retreat with other Abingdon authors and our editor, I asked how many people there had a gay parent, sibling, relative, or friend. The hand of every person in that room was raised. 
Ironically, the problem with these two books had more to do with the response by the community than Abingdon, a Christian publishing house.  Abingdon stood behind me and supported me when both of these novels released.  What some people said to me, often in print, after the publication of The Edge of Grace wasn't very Christian!

RM:  You and I have travelled different roads since we first met at ACFW years ago. Can you tell us a little about what you’ve done about getting into publication since then?

CA: I published four novels and one historical fiction in between those, then—by choice—I ended my contract with my agent while I thought about what I wanted for my writing.  

Publishers have tended to see my fiction as “issue-driven” (seems like that’s a  B-A-D label!). What I find amusing, though, is that I’m writing about challenges in my own life that I’m positive are being experienced by other Christians.  Let’s face it…I’m a recovering alcoholic, Christian, once divorced, twice married, wife of a Jewish husband and I have a gay brother, a child with Down’s Syndrome and a son-in-law who is black. Those aren’t issues to me—they’re family.

In 2014, I wrote and indie-published a Christmas novella, All They Want for Christmas, the first in The Magnolia Hill Garden Club series I’m planning. It’s geared primarily to a general market audience, and I had great fun writing it.

RM: What's up with Christa Allan now?

CA: I recently signed with Jessica Kirkland of  The Blythe Daniel Agency, and because of her, signed a contract with Waterfall, an imprint of Amazon publishing, for an October release. I’m already blown away by their support, and I’m looking forward to future projects.
RM: Anything you want to leave with our readers:

CA:   First, thank you Richard for inviting me to be here today. I truly appreciate           
your continued support and encouragement. I returned Sunday from my third annual Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend in Nacogdoches. Kathy L. Patrick, its founder, brings together about fifty authors and hundreds of readers in one weekend, and the fun never stops—author panels, dinner, activities and entertainment.  If you’re able to attend, I highly recommend it…but only if you’re ready to meet enthusiastic readers and authors from all ends of the earth.  The Timber Guys (authors and readers) also hang out with the girlfriends.

If you’re looking for me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram , as well as on my website

NOTE: Christa has kindly offered a copy of her recent novella, All They Want for Christmas, to one of you who leaves a comment. As Christa points out, this one is written for the general market--check out the first few pages on Amazon, but if you do, I think you'll agree with me that her writing draws you in.
AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN: Connie will receive a copy of All They Want for Christmas. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Please include your email address (spelled out to avoid web crawlers), so we can contact the winner. You have a week to leave your comment before I select a winner.

Tweet with a single click: Interview with author Christa Allan reveals the problems she faced after publication of her first novels. Click here to tweet.



37 comments:

  1. Thanks Richard and the Suspense Sisters for featuring this interview today. Much appreciated!

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  2. Christa, I've read the Edge of Grace and while I'm more of a romantic suspense reader, I couldn't put it down. A difficult subject and I'm so proud Abingdon went with it!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia. I'm proud as them as well. As were my brother and his partner!

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  3. Such a fantastic interview and exceptionally talented writer. I continue to love, admire and respect the raw honesty and willingness to open up and write about real issues in your own life and open up about facing those issues and/or challenges!

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  4. Thanks for the interview. I haven't read any of Christa's books. It's always good to learn about a new to me author.
    tumcsec(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Appreciate your stopping by, and I hope you enjoy my novels when you read them!

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  5. I enjoyed reading your interview. I am putting Christa's books on my to read list. I think I am going to like them. I love fiction, but I like it to be on the real side and this sounds like what Christa writes.

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    1. They're as real as fiction can be, and let me know what you think!

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  6. I really enjoyed your interview. I have not read any of her books as of yet. I love finding new authors. Thank you. Jacque Webb bouttime at gmail dot com

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  7. Hi Jacque--I'm glad you stopped by and commented. I hope you have a chance to read one if my novels!

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  8. Hi Jacque--I'm glad you stopped by and commented. I hope you have a chance to read one if my novels!

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  9. Christa, I read your book, Walking on Broken Glass, and really liked it. It's interesting that writing about issues is B A D! We all certainly have issues in our lives and having validation and encouragement about them through the written word, whether fiction or non-fiction, is a good thing. I look forward to reading your other books and here's hoping on the novella! Thank you for your interview.

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    1. You're welcome! Maybe publishers are easing back into issue-drive fiction, but for a while, I dared not refer to it as such. Glad you enjoyed my debut novel.

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  10. Great interview, Christa and Doc! Christa, I love journaling and appreciated the back story on Walking on Broken Glass. I thoroughly enjoyed that novel!

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    1. Thanks, Judy---we need to keep journaling alive!

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  11. Thanks to everyone for their comments, and to Christa for taking the time to let us get to know her even better.

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  12. Fabulous interview, Christa. So interesting to see your ups and downs. Such a tough business, but I'm betting that working with Waterfall will be a good experience. So blessed by your friendship.

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    1. Counting on it, girlie! Thanks for passing by.

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  13. This interview is so you. You are the journaling guru for certain. Your books are unbelievably honest and bring the reader to an emotional brink few authors ever attempt. I highly reccommend Walking on Broken Glass.

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    1. Thanks, Phylis. Appreciate your stopping by!

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  14. Folks, don't forget to leave your email address (spelled out, like Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com) for a chance to win Christa's novella. If you've already commented, leave another with your email. We have room!

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  15. So agree with this: "the prologue to your first novel is some of the best writing I've ever read." Christa's writing is phenomenal. Very excited to see her new direction!

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    1. One of my true "partners in crime"! Thanks, Jenny.

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  16. Author Christa Allan you are a new to me author. Congratulations on your accomplishments I look forward to reading novella All They Want for Christmas. Thank you for the giveaway chance.
    Deanne P.
    Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

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  17. Great interview! I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I already own your first two novels, and haven't read either of them. I will plan to rectify that soon.

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  18. New author for me looking forward to reading her book. kamundsen44ATyahooDOTcom.

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    1. Delighted to meet you, Kim. Hope you have a chance to read my novels.

      Christa

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  19. What a history this woman has! I recently met Christa at Pulpwood Queens and had the privilege of hearing her speak on a panel of authors. She is a little ball of energy and her writings sound amazing. I would love to read her book!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  20. Thanks, Melanie. Wasn't PQ weekend THE BEST?! I miss everyone...such fun! Thanks for your kind words.

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  21. Christa, I enjoyed reading the first five pages of All They Want For Christmas and I look forward to reading more of your work. Richard, thank you for interviewing Christa.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. A lovely highlight thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  23. I like finding new Christian authors,too. I'll be sure to look for your books.

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  24. I would like to read this book, as well as others by this author who is newly introduced to me. Too many of real life issues are hard to be honestly approached. Thank you for this honesty.
    Janice
    pjrcmoore@windstream.net

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