Become a Fiction Writer and Thank the Lord for Your Lousy Childhood

Christine
Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted
on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and
her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic.
Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no
responsibility for the sinking of that infamous ship. Stories of
Christine’s ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired
her multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed
in Silk
, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and newly released Veiled
at Midnight,
published by WhiteFire Publishing. Last year Christine also had Londonderry
Dreaming
released through Pelican Book Group.
You Cannot Write Unless You’ve suffered
Lately,
there’s been a lot of talk about the insult to artists—that you cannot be an
author unless you’ve suffered. Al Kennedy wrote a savvy piece on this for the
Guardian Why I hate the myth of the
suffering artist
.
Kennedy says
that
for some, “they believe comfort and success are poison, that the Stones never did
anything good after they’d got money, Van Gogh prospered
because of mental distress, obscurity and ear mutilation, etc.” In essence, if
the artist wasn’t hurting, they couldn’t be working.
Kennedy
goes on to say, “I have been trying to write for at least
a quarter of a century, and I can say very firmly that in my experience,
suffering is largely of no (profanity
removed
) use to anyone, and definitely not a prerequisite for creation. If
an artist has managed to take something appalling and make it into art, that’s
because the artist is an artist, not because something appalling is naturally
art.”
I
couldn’t agree more, especially when we run up against writers who feel it’s
necessary to wallow in unhappiness just to produce a work of beauty.
However, as a Christian author I’d
like to go a step further. The best novels I’ve read were written by people who
suffered. Maybe not a lot of anguish and woe, maybe just a pinch of misery
while experiencing the loneliness of looking for a loving spouse. But, not that
that’s a small issue to sneeze at. As a Christian author there has to come that
balance of not sticking with the pain, but redeeming it for God’s purposes.
The
Best Paintings Have Shadows, A Foil for Sunshine. Art Needs That Delicate
Interplay Between Dark and Light
Before I started writing I used to
paint. I learned that balance of shadow and light made the difference between a
mediocre piece and a work that stole your breath.
Same with literature.
I occasionally like to read short humorous books, but after a while—if the
stakes aren’t raised, if there’s not a chance the hero or heroine will have
their hearts broken—I’m bored. Stories that keep me rapidly turning the pages
are those filled with anguish.
Reach Down Deep into Your Gut and Remember the Hurt
Granted we
don’t all need to know what it feels like to be attacked, or God-forbid—raped,
or live through a war or a kidnapping to write about such themes, but we must
tap into feelings that are similar.
I remember
the day my middle son disappeared. All the neighbors were out looking for Kyle,
people were praying. Two hours later, my six-year-old boy sallied home, smiling
to beat the band, clutching a posy of dandelions in his grubby little hand for
me. Thank God I do not know what it feels like to have my child kidnapped, but
I can tap into those feelings of the “Day of the Dandelions” as it is now known
in our family for all perpetuity.
It’s clear
that no one on this earth is exempt from suffering. It’s not exactly a
prerequisite for creativity, but suffering is a necessary ingredient for both life
and art.
But let’s not forget, light is the other essential
element. My fear for my little boy only made the sunshine of our reunion that much
brighter.
Because
What Is A Painting Without Light?
At a
writers’ conference I once heard Donald Maass talk about a writer who emailed
her agent about her latest book.
“It’s the
best thing I ever wrote,” she gushed. “It’s so honest.”
The book was
honest all right, but it was so full of angst it was a total drag to read. Why
is it we authors get trapped into thinking the darker or grittier our book the
greater the literary quality?
Unless there
is a hint of hope on each page then I’m unwilling to remain in that literary
dungeon. I want to feel emotion in each scene, but as a reader I must
experience building despair, balanced by hope, leading to a climax of joy.
Tap Into Your Lousy Childhood If You Were Lucky Enough to
Have One
Okay,
forgive my dark humor. I wouldn’t wish a lousy childhood on anyone, but dark
memories can be changed into something bright and beautiful. Mine were. It’s
called healing.
These days I
thank my heavenly Father for my lousy childhood. It wasn’t until I became a
fiction writer that I could say this. Before that I suffered the same battles
with bitterness as the next person, as the grown child of an alcoholic, and
later after relinquishing my first child to adoption. Despair is a great place
to start as a writer, but…
Unless You’ve Reached the Stage of Healing You Have Nothing
to Offer Your Readers
I promise my
readers a happy ending in all my books because I’ve seen happy endings in my
own life through my faith in Christ. 
But it was
my lousy childhood that started my writing career. Memories of my alcoholic
father inspired my multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the
British Raj. It’s only because I received healing from that emotional pain,
though, and the pain of losing my first child to adoption, that I believe I
have something to offer my readers.
Through that
delicate interplay of light and shadow, I try to offer my readers a rip-roaring
ride on a roller-coaster of emotions, the depths of raw anguish, the grittiness
of despair, the tsunamis’ of global conflict that our world inflicts upon us,
as well as what I like to call Big Love Stories when the love of God conquers
all.
My entire
series Twilight of the British Raj shows the healing of a family first tainted
by a father’s alcoholism. In book 1 Shadowed
in Silk
, my heroine Abby Fraser stands up to her abusive husband. In book 2
Captured by Moonlight my Indian
heroine Eshana stands up to her fanatical Hindu uncle who won’t allow her to
live as a Christian. And in the final book Veiled
at Midnight
my character Cam (who was a boy in book 1) and is now a man,
faces his inner demons that he has inherited his father’s addiction to alcohol.
All this set against a background of racial bias, political and religious
conflict, in an intoxicatingly exotic landscape.
Yes, there
are parts of my books that are gritty and heart-rending. But in triumph I write
not just about the struggle from alcoholism to sobriety, about surviving
through war, about standing up to bigotry, and refusing to be invisible in the
face of abandonment and abuse…
I Write in Triumph About That Tingling Feeling—When God Makes
Everything New.

Veiled at Midnight
The British empire draws to an end…but the turmoil has only just begun. 
The Partition of India has sent millions to the roads, instigated riots as uncontrolled as wildfire…and caught up in its wake Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah. 
Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since they played together at the mission as children. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he? 
For a while, Dassah believes that Cam loves her. But as the impossibility of a future with him becomes clear, what choice does she have but to run? He may hold her heart but she cannot let him break it again. 
Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, and as British forces prepare to leave India, she struggles. She finds purpose in teaching, in helping…but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soul mate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?