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.