jump into fiction. Grace in Strange Disguise was runner-up in the Athanatos Christian Writing Contest. Christine loves reading and keeps sane by cycling, swimming and hiking. You can touch base with her over on her website at www.storytellerchristine.com and on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/storytellerchristine/ and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storytellerchristine/
Welcome to Interviews & Reviews Christine!
Which books do you find yourself reading over and over again?
The Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia set. I think I’ve read them every year since I was about thirteen.
Many authors report that they always wanted to be a writer. Was this true in your case?
I envy people like that. I’m a reluctant writer who really only started because it was easier to write down evangelism and discipleship training stuff than to train everybody one by one. Non-fiction is where I started and I have two books published through traditional publishers. 1-2-1 discipleship through a Scottish publisher (Christian Focus, 2009) and Telling the Gospel Through Story through IVP, an American publisher (2012).
I never intended to write fiction. I was smart enough to know that it would be an incredibly difficult thing to do.
various other writing projects. Internally the pressure was slowly building to write fiction but I had no idea how to start. I was staying in a friend’s place in the Philippines and picked up Francine Rivers’ ‘Sons of Encouragement’ and once again the thought was there, “You’re a Bible storyteller, practice by writing a biblical novel.” Right there and then, I sat down and wrote the first of two biblical novels. In 2013, I finally planned and started to write what I thought of as the ‘real’ thing. It took 4 ½ years to birth the baby.
Obeying God when you can't make sense of a strange request is very hard. Especially when He asks something of you that is akin to pulling teeth. Aside from not wanting to write fiction, what is the hardest thing about writing for you?
I’m a full-time missionary with OMF in southern Taiwan. Plus, I’m involved training people in storytelling, evangelism and discipleship. Time is scarce. Over the last 5 years I’ve sacrificed a lot of rest time. Thankfully, I’m organised and I’m learning my rhythms and how to get the planning and writing done. I’m also cutting things out of my life to give myself the necessary creative thinking time. I’ve even learned to plan as I swim laps.
Many of your readers have commented on the Bible storytelling modelled in your book. Why did you put that in?
I’ve been using Bible storytelling nearly every day since 2004. It is such a natural way to share about Jesus with other adults. One of the reasons I wrote this book was because I’d seen Christian books where the evangelism was sort of dumped into the book almost as an afterthought. It was often awkward and really not a good model for anyone. I wanted people to be the fly on the wall to conversations so they would be inspired to give it a go. I’m excited that good numbers of the reviews mention they’ve been inspired to try telling Bible stories.
Did you have other hopes for your book?
Several things have concerned me about Christian fiction. One was that there are so many ‘happily ever after’ stories. We like reading them but for many of us that isn’t our life. I want to write fiction that inspires people to follow Jesus whatever the cost. A book that did this for me was ‘Safely Home’ by Randy Alcorn. I call that kind of book an ‘eternity impacting’ book. That’s what I want to write. I want to deal with real issues. Far too often when I’ve been discipling someone they’re disappointed in God because he hasn’t done what they’ve expected. They really want a genie who grants a million wishes, not a suffering Saviour. I wanted them to see the benefits of hard times and the joy that comes with obedience. So they learn that real gold doesn’t fear the flame.
That's very inspiring. Do you have any other books in the works?
Grace in Strange Disguise’ was intended to be a standalone novel. About three and a half years into its journey, I began to get ideas for a follow-up novel. I told the Lord, ‘No’ but that is never very successful.
In May, my editor shocked me by saying she thought the first book was really one and a half books. When I recovered from the shock I could see she was right. So I cut off the final third of the book and wrote a new ending. In October, I met up with her and shared some ideas and she thinks there is enough for five books. I’ve nearly finished the first draft of book two. I’m aiming for October publication but the details are up to my Boss. He started me on the journey and it is up to him what happens and when.
What have you learned spiritually through writing the book?
That when God asks you to do something, you must obey and he will provide everything you need. It has been tough and many times I wanted to quit. I despaired that my writing would ever be any good. But every time I cried out to him, he provided the strength and ability to keep going. He loves to use the weak to gain himself the glory he deserves (1 Corinthians 1:27-29) and he has proved himself over and over. He has sent the right encouragement just when I needed it. He has matched me with the right editors to suit both my personality and what was lacking in my writing. He’s provided me with the finance to pay the editors and buy the writing craft books. It has been a faith expanding journey.
That is so inspiring Christine. I can't wait to see what God does next in your writing!
And now, dear readers, I have a nice surprise! Christine would love to give one of you a digital copy of her book Grace in Strange Disguise. I have just started reading it myself and can't put it down. It's that good! So if you would like to win a copy, just fill out the form below. Contest closes January 9, 2018.
Winner of Grace in Strange Disguise is Linda Palmer.
Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?