Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A View from Christa Allan's Window and AUTOGRAPHED GIVE AWAY!

I am honored to welcome Christa Allan to my Window! Her debut novel, Walking on Broken Glass made a huge impact on my heart and mind, and I wanted to share some of Christa's heart with my readers. I hope your heart is as blessed as mine was, and I hope you gain tender understanding of this precious writer's heart for Christ and for her readers!

Christa is also offering an autographed copy of her new novel as a gift for those who stop by today, so please leave a comment and let Christa know you paid a visit! Please, give a warm welcome to Christa Allan!

Where was this story born in your heart? What led you write about addiction in such a personal way?

My tagline is “stories of unscripted grace” and that grew from my realization that our lives don’t always follow the scripts we’ve expected and, as a result, we sometimes find ourselves frustrated, lonely, confused, angry. We think God’s abandoned us, when-ironically-we may be following God’s script for our lives, and His grace will sustain us.

I’m a recovering alcoholic and, by God’s grace, have not had a drink for over twenty years. I invited God back into my life because of AA, not in spite of it. As I grew in my faith and in my recovery, I realized that so many Christian families suffer in silence. Alcoholism, drug, sex, or food addiction, lifestyles are all the big elephants in the room we don’t talk about. But we all know they exist. So, what’s someone to do who’s immersed in these challenges? I wanted to reassure women struggling with addiction that they’re not alone, that there’s a loving and compassionate God who cares about them and His grace will be sufficient for them. I wanted to remove the fa├žade that often hinders real recovery. “Good” Christian families aren’t immune to the world, but once we admit we have a problem, we can be healed by God.

Even at the point when Leah is entering rehab – of her own choice and against her husband’s wishes – she still thinks she is “not like these other people”. Can you explain this mindset as it relates to addiction? Addiction is certainly no respecter of persons!

I think, for most, the perception of an alcoholic is of a homeless person, passed out on a street corner or a raging, slurring, tottering wacko at a party. Debutantes, soccer moms as alcoholics? Who would think? For Leah, the perception defined the disease. It became the ruler by which she measured and justified her own drinking.

Why was Leah’s husband unable to recognize Leah needed help when it was so clear to her best friend?

Someone told me, “When you point at a person, remember that there are four fingers pointing back at you.” We’re all very good at denial, especially with those we love. But to really see and admit they have a problem forces us to take a long look inside of ourselves and, perhaps, own some of our own problems and issues. And then, once you admit there’s a problem, well then you have to do something about it. For Carl to admit his wife was an alcoholic he had to let of his own social pretensions. What people would think of him became more important that helping Leah. And, on another level, one that is painful to bear, her being an alcoholic gave him control.

As it turns out, the event in Leah’s life that the reader thinks is the root cause of all this trouble winds up as only another symptom of the addiction itself. Why do you feel some people use emotional pain as an excuse to abuse a substance?

Initially, most people would forgive someone who drank too much to ease the pain of a tragedy. After all, who wants to feel, really feel that ache? Years ago, a doctor wanted to prescribe medicine for my son that would “take the edge off of life.” He was 12. Life’s supposed to have an edge; otherwise, how do you know when you’re falling off?

Just when you think there’s a pill for any symptom a human can experience, along comes a pill to help boost the pill you’re already taking (it’s a pill related to depression ). I’m not saying anyone who takes medication is trying to escape reality. Maybe there is a genetic predisposition to substance abuse or biochemical imbalances. Countless numbers of people have been helped by medications for psychiatric disorders, depression, anxiety, for instance. But when pills or alcohol or other drugs are used to numb us, then that’s something else. Because there’s no way to escape reality; it’s always there waiting for us. I’m going out on a totally unresearched, undocumented limb here…but I think if there’s no real spiritual foundation, one that has roots— not just something sprinkled over the soil— then reality is difficult. Finding God, at least for me, opened the eyes of my heart to a reality far greater than this world.

Can you give readers a sneak peek into the book that is planned to follow this one?

I’d love to write a sequel for this novel; unfortunately; there’s not one contracted or in the works at this point! My original intention all along was to write a sequel, which might explain some of the looser ends in the story. I know how I’d want this second novel to unfold, and it would probably begin five years later. Other than that, my agent’s shopping two proposals that I truly hope get picked up. One deals with the issue of a woman coming to terms with her brother who is gay. So, once again, I’m headed into an issue-driven novel, and one that’s not been tried in CBA publishing.

What do your students think about you becoming a published author? Have they read your story?

My high school students have been a part of this journey from my signing with an agent to being offered the book contract to publication. For some of them, I hear, “Wow, you published a REAL book!” Others respond with, “That’s great. Did I miss anything yesterday?”

The message I want them to get from this is to not let go of their dreams. If my dream can come true, then so can theirs. And I pray they don’t wait as long!

What has been your most meaningful response to the book release thus far? What do you ultimately hope the message of the book achieves?

Truly, since this is my first novel, every response is meaningful! Because it’s a novel about alcoholism and sexual issues between a husband and wife, my greatest concern was that it wouldn’t get read. That people would know the subject matter and think it was “appropriate” for Christian fiction. Abingdon really stepped out in faith in publishing this novel, and I’m so grateful for them believing in Leah’s story.

What’s most meaningful is when people see this as a story of hope and redemption. And for those dealing with addiction themselves or in the lives of family or friends, I pray this novel gives them the courage to heal and find God’s grace on the other side of brokenness.

Closing words of encouragement to your readers?

Don’t ever let someone steal your dreams. Trust that if God placed the desire in your heart, that there’s a way for it eventually unfold.

What exciting thing is God doing in your life right now?

Well, the responses to this novel are tremendously exciting! Actually, I think God is pruning me right now because things aren’t happening the way I wanted or hoped they would…and, of course, the key word there is “I.” So, I’m excited that God cares enough about me to take time to teach me!


twg said...

I would love to read this! Thanks !Becky twgooch(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Great post. This sounds like a great read.

Mocha with Linda said...

Don't enter me, but just wanted to say I loved this interview. It was a great book!

Unknown said...

"stories of unscripted grace"...I love that, so true.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Cynthia Ruchti said...

I'm reading the book right now and am enamored with Christa's insightful and moving way of unfolding this story. Great interview of a gifted storyteller and courageous author.

Winning Readings said...

I've seen some good reviews and would love to read this! I love "REAL" books - and so many Christian publishers have guidelines, especially for fiction, that prevent the real stuff from getting out. Thanks, Christa, for sharing from the heart.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your interview and would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks!

Julia M. Reffner said...

I would love to read this especially reading the story behind it.


Carmen said...

Your honesty about your own issues may be the catalyst of healing for many. I think when we become more transparent, people are more apt to listen to your message of hope through Christ. I would love to win a copy of your book. Please enter me. Thank you.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Carole said...

I am so glad to see this difficult topic addressed in Christian fiction! And thank you for sharing your personal story, Christa. Your book takes on a whole new meaning to me and I appreciate the chance to win a copy. Best wishes in your future writing.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Benita said...

What a terrific post! Thanks for the possibility!


Jan said...

Great review, and I would love to read this book. Please count me in.

alongtheway at telus dot net

Kim said...

CONGRATULATIONS CAROLE!! Please be watching for my email to confirm your win!!