Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If there's an elephant in the room...

Note from Christa: My apologies for being tardy with this post. I'm still recovering from being technologically-disabled.

If there’s an elephant in the room…I’ll find it.

When you’re the once divorced, twice married recovering alcoholic wife of a Jewish husband, mother of twins (one of the two has Down’s Syndrome) plus three other children, a daughter whose husband is black (and she’s not), and sister of a gay brother…well, just where are you going to go with that?

I never intended to write about issues. They found me first. And when I first discovered Christian fiction, I wanted, needed, characters with whom I could identify.

Sure, I found some novels with characters that were alcoholics, or gay, or parents of special-needs children. But, generally, they weren’t the protagonists or their situations didn’t mirror life as I saw it. As someone who came to Christianity in my late 30s, I wondered if I was an anomaly or if the people in the pews around me had equally messy lives.

When I started writing for publication, my first idea was a romance novel. Girl meets boy, they hate each other, then they like each other. Five pages in, and I was done. My husband suggested I write a mystery. I couldn’t even figure out who the killer was, so surely that wasn’t going to work either.

The notion to write about a woman alcoholic emerged after sharing with a co-worker that I’ve been a recovering alcoholic for over twenty years. Her surprise that an average teacher-mommy-wife who led an otherwise average life was ever an alcoholic was my epiphany.

So, now I write women's fiction for Abingdon Press, a Christian publishing house willing to allow me to write about women alcoholics and gay men (two separate books, though, I wish I had thought of that premise). I have an 1840s historical fiction set in New Orleans releasing in 2012 about racial identity and placage.

At times, when I tell people what I write, I see their eyes glaze over with visions of bonnets, which led to my adopting “not your usual” Christian fiction as a tagline. I want readers to know being a Christian doesn’t mean immunity from the world’s problems. For now, I’m delivering that message via a Christian publishing house.

The bottom line is that we never know just by looking at people what’s going on in their lives. So many people look so bright-faced happy and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives. Like those families in the picture frames sold in stores (who ARE those people, by the way?!).

But turn those pictures over, and what’s there? Nothing. I don’t believe that’s the life we’re called to. We’re called to compassion and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.

And that’s my passion for writing...to expose the elephants.

Christa Allan is the author of Walking on Broken Glass, The Edge of Grace, and the soon-to-be released Love Finds You in New Orleans. You can find her at www.christaallan.com, Facebook, and Twitter. When she's not frantically meeting deadlines for her novels, she teaches high school English. Christa and her husband live in Abita Springs, Louisiana with their three neurotic cats.


  1. Great post. Sounds to me like you have a lot of material to mine.

  2. Oh, Christa, this is a fantastic post!

    "The bottom line is that we never know just by looking at people what’s going on in their lives. So many people look so bright-faced happy and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives." ~So true!!

  3. Hi Christa, glad you found a home for your books.

    I think we all have messy lives. Some people are better at hiding it than others...I guess that's why I write mysteries!

  4. I love your introduction,what an amazing description of how you are!! You can't judge a book by it's cover, it's publisher or it's author, you just have to dig in. I've never ventured into too much Christian Fiction, pre judging it too puritanical, but I promise to check yours out. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Anita...I appreciate your honesty, especially because I think it's more true than not that readers imagine most Christian fiction as Bible verse dialogue!

    Sara...Thanks for stopping by. I like your mysteries = well-hidden and really messy lives.

  6. Jessica and Heather: Thanks for your stopping by and supporting my first venture here.

    Karin: Yes, I have quite a number of issue to go!

  7. Christa, welcome to the Club! Okay, just from this post, I know I like you already. And I definitely look forward to reading your books! :-)

  8. What a fabulous blog, Christa, and welcome to GBC as well! Your honesty really comes through in your post. I bet it does in your books too! Again, very enjoyable post!

  9. Christa:
    One of my favorite quotes (which hangs above my writing desk) is by Plato:

    'Be kind for everyone is fighting a tough battle.'

    I think your post speaks directly to that.
    Thank you for your post.

  10. Appreciate the welcome to GBC. Looking forward to learning the secret handshake.

  11. I high appreciate to this post dear! It is simply superb, have to bookmark this one! Lovely to find your blog...

    Sample Letters

  12. Great post, Christa! Through your honesty, you've piqued my interest in a genre I've to this point kept at arms length. Bravo to your publisher! And what a lovely book jacket.

  13. Christa, I love that you have such a diversity of experiences in your life and that you've brought them to your stories. I'm truly looking forward to reading them!

  14. Happy to find you! Loved the post. Good on ya, girl.