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Interview with Christine Lindsay


I met Christine Lindsay at the First Timers’ session of the 2008 ACFW conference in Minneapolis where her passion for history, especially her British Raj series, shone through every word and then stayed with me over the years. Christine’s newest release, Sofi’s Bridge, is set in Washington State where she uses her Irish birth, wit, and love of family history to flavor the lives of her characters.

Sofi’s Bridge is a powerful story of a woman who has been given the gifts of engineering, drawing, and mathematics necessary to build bridges, but is held back in a 1913 society where it isn’t conventional for a woman to know such skills, never mind have the gall to use them.


Sofi’s love for bridges makes me wonder if you have architectural or engineering skills yourself?

Not particularly architectural, but artistic skills, yes. In high school I made straight “A”s in Art, History, English, and English Lit. I did poorly in every other subject because they didn’t inspire me. One of my favorite subjects was Art History, and of course one aspect of that was architecture. Living close to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the coast we must drive over many bridges to get here and there, so I’ve come to enjoy the artistry it takes to build a bridge.

But really, Sofi’s hunger to build a bridge is metaphorical for my journey as a writer. Ordinary life held me back many times from pursuing the labor of my heart. I know it’s the same for most writers and artists. Sofi’s Bridge is about pursuing the work of your hands that you believe God inspired within you.

Since the bridge plays such an important role in Sofi’s Bridge, did you use an image of a particular bridge while writing? Did it look like the one on the book cover?

I couldn’t find a picture of exactly what I envisioned, but the one on the front cover is close. The bridge in the story was up much higher though, crossing from one side of a wide gorge to another. I wanted it high enough to instill fear in my characters as they crossed the bridge and looked down between the railway ties under their feet to the swirling rapids below.

Sofi’s Bridge takes place during the bridge’s construction giving us the chance to see what is required for a job as a metal riveter. Since your family history includes men who worked as riveters on the Titanic, can you share any stories that circulated when you all got together?

My original draft of Sofi’s Bridge wasn’t about a bridge at all. The idea came to me a year before the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. I wanted to write a novel from the viewpoint of the shipbuilders.

Alas, I realized I was up against too many famous writers and my draft would fail to be noticed as the anniversary approached. So I tanked my first draft of the book that was set on the Titanic, and reused all my research for steel riveters in bridge construction.

My family members get a kick out of our connection to the Titanic as they all know that I’m referring to my great grandfather and my grandfather when I talk about those bridge builders. Back in those days, the safety for construction workers of all kinds was extremely precarious.

Did you get out there and bang the metal and rivets of a few real bridges?

No, but I climbed up a few old railway bridges close to my home and touched them. I wanted to feel the texture of rusted steel. My husband and I also took in a number of train museums so I could get inside old Pullman railway cars featured in the book too.

Your story covers some hard-hitting facts, including the use and effects of laudanum, a common medicine at that time. In what part of the writing process did you decide to use laudanum as your addiction of choice for Rosie?

I always like to put some modern-day issue into my historical novels, and in this case I wanted to touch on drug addiction that is perpetrated by poor diagnosis and laziness of some medical doctors today. My mother was addicted to medication for a mental illness that she did not have. It took the wise eyes of another doctor to catch this, and for my mum to be weaned off the wrong meds.

During the era Sofi’s Bridge is set in, the most commonly prescribed drug for too many female ailments was Laudanum. The times may be vastly different in many ways, but so often our family problems are the same.

Sofi’s Bridge has specific life lessons which enhance the story and can be used to reach out to certain people. For example, Sofi as a role model for youth, Rosie and her drug addition, Trina and her trauma, etc. Have you been able to capitalize on these during your speaking engagements?

Oh yes! When I speak at women’s events I love to address the heartaches and issues we are experiencing today. I often address the grief that comes to all of us in life, and how to turn those heartaches over to God and let him bring healing and new beginnings. This is especially true when I share my own life journey, especially that of being a birth-mother, a woman who relinquished a baby to adoption.

I found it easy to keep track of your characters because of the way you presented their diversity. What type of character chart do you use?

I used Excel for my character charts, and listed each character’s strengths and weakness. Also, what trait my characters need to grow in by the end of the book. Before I start to write I like to list the scenes of my characters’ “ah-ha” moments. But as writing progresses, I will often adjust my character charts. While I start out as a plotter, I am enough of a panster to adjust and change as the story leads me on.

Does Sofi’s Bridge contain more suspense than your previous books?

Panorama of Christine Lindsay's books

This historical romance is a bit more of a mystery than my other books, but my historical trilogy, Twilight of the British Raj, has loads of suspense with my characters often in danger, especially those in war settings.

Have you considered a sequel with Sofi’s sister, Trina, as the heroine since she’s experienced such a traumatic event that could affect her adult life?

Actually, I hope to start the sequel soon and turn it into a 3-book series. Yes, Trina will be a heroine for book 3, but I want the middle book to feature Joel Harrison (the Pinkerton Detective in Sofi’s Bridge) as the hero.

On average, how long does it take for you to craft a story from concept to submission?

I’m still fairly early in my career with only my seventh book being released, so the timeline for each book has been vastly different. Shadowed in Silk took about four years. Captured by Moonlight and the finale Veiled at Midnight were wanted by the publisher in about two year slots. Londonderry Dreaming took only a matter of months (it’s a novella), and Sofi’s Bridge was a story I dug out several times over five years to work on.

Where will your adventurous mind lead us next?

At the moment I’m scrambling like mad to promote the release of my first non-fiction book, Finding Sarah, Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story. But I hope to start a brand new series soon that is set in Northern Ireland where I was born. I’d like to combine my love of historical with contemporary romance in a series that looks back and forth between a woman and her great-grandmother’s experience with loads of mystery, suspense, romance, and gorgeous settings.


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and their youngest of 4 kids. She writes historical romance set in Canada and the United States.

Romantic Refinements, Novella 2 in the Austen in Austin Volume 1 collection by WhiteFire Publishing released in January 2016. This 4-novella collection of stories set in historic Austin, Texas is based on the novels of Jane Austen.

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