The Edge of Grace, which just released, grew out of my own struggles when my brother told me he was gay. At a writer’s retreat several years ago, I shared the first few chapters not knowing what sort of response to expect. From the first page, there’s no doubt that the subject of the novel is a woman finding out about her gay brother. And, as part of the tagline I use, that’s definitely not your usual Christian fiction. Their response was overwhelmingly encouraging and, to a person, every writer there had either a gay sibling or relative or co-worker. Obviously, I wasn’t the only Christian who had struggled with this issue.
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. In Walking on Broken Glass, the woman’s experiences as a drinker and in rehab, are loosely based on my own.
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.
What I hope readers will take away from both of my novels 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. That’s not the life God planned for us. He wants our lives to be framed by His love. We are called to compassion, and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.
A true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa Allan’s novel Edge of Grace will release in August. Her debut women’s fiction, Walking on Broken Glass, was published by Abingdon Press in 2010. Her next three novels are scheduled for 2013 and 2014.
Christa is the mother of five, a grandmother of three, and a teacher of high school English. She and her husband Ken live in Abita Springs.