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Interview With Christine Lynxwiler

Ever since I was first asked to proofread one of Christine’s early books for Barbour, I have been a fan of her stories. So when I saw her name on my list of authors to interview this year, I was excited to get to know her better.

Christine, your books are fun to read, and they include all the elements I enjoy—a little suspense, a little humor, and romance. And your characters are so real, I always fall in love with them. Thanks for joining me today for this interview.

Thanks for having me, Marjorie, and for your encouragement!

How did you get started writing contemporary romance? And when did you get “the call” on your first book?
I have always preferred reading contemporary stories, even though from time to time I enjoy a good historical. When I started writing in 1996, my goal was to provide entertaining fiction that wasn’t bland yet had no sections that had to be “skipped” by readers who didn’t want to read sex scenes or profanity-laced dialogue. Since I’m not a history buff, it seemed normal to set those stories in the present. I got “the call” in January of 2001—Becky Germany with Barbour Publishing wanted to contract an anthology proposal I was involved in. It was incredibly exciting! I was working the front desk in my husband’s chiropractic office, and he was adjusting a patient when the call came. I jumped up and down and screamed, and my husband and the patient both came running out. I was red-faced, but nothing could bring me down that day. Shortly after that I got the second “call” (only it was an e-mail) saying she wanted to buy the second anthology proposal we’d submitted. That opened the door to submitting a proposal for a four book series I had in mind.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Besides prayer? It would have to be the Internet. I wrote the first book (still unpublished, btw) in two years without any guidance or real knowledge of how to write a book. Then we got the Internet. I read everything I could find about writing—point of view, character development, etc. I started going to Lynn Coleman’s Monday night workshop/chat for inspirational romance writers (something like what Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren have now at My Book Therapy). Through the chats, I learned a lot but I also made several friends who were writers. One of those friends, Tamela Hancock Murray, became a critique partner and invited me to be in those two anthology proposals I mentioned above. About the same time, I became member #17 in a tiny new organization called American Christian Romance Writers. What a blessing to be able to talk freely with multi-published, award-winning authors and pick their brains. That’s my number one recommendation to new writers who approach me about where to start. Join American Christian Fiction Writers.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Making myself write regularly. I love writing. Love it! But I love my kids more. And my husband, too. There’s nothing I’d rather do than spend time with the three of them. So if they have things going on, it’s torture for me to say, “No, thanks, I have to stay home and write.” I do it now, for the most part, but I’m a born procrastinator, so it took me a long time to learn that eventually the piper had to be paid. (Am I allowed to use a cliché in an interview? ☺) When I put off my writing, I pay dearly as the deadline closes in. In my defense, according to my sweet husband I have way too many responsibilities for one person, so maybe my greatest challenge is just that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I’m not sure. I don’t set out to write “Christian” stories. I write stories to entertain. I fill them with characters that become alive to me. They’re like me and my family—they have flaws and good qualities and varying degrees of faith. When I write the story, as these characters face conflict, that faith is tried and, just like in real life, it either strengthens or crumbles. My faith and spiritual life affect my storytelling much like they do the rest of my life—hopefully they are fine, strong threads naturally woven through that hold things together.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
There are so many moments that come to mind. I finally asked my husband what he thought the greatest moment so far has been. He said it was surely the day right after my first Heartsongs came out when I got a reader letter from a woman who said that Through the Fire changed her marriage, her heart, and her life. She quoted parts of the book and explained how they helped her. I remember how terrifying it was to realize something I had written could have that effect. It was a good reminder to pray about my writing.

You know what I’m realizing as I think about this question? There is no greatest moment. All the things I thought would be that—selling the first book, winning the first award, hitting the CBA bestseller list, signing a multiple book contract—are no more or less important than the smaller things—having a great writing day, getting a touching reader letter, hearing your daughter say she finally read one of your books and cried during parts of it, even though she never cries, staying up late plotting with friends, and typing the first paragraph of an exciting new book or the last paragraph of the book you thought you’d never get through because of your life battles. All these are great moments and I thank God for every one of them.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Some days the only thing that spurs me to write is the fact that I have a contract that says I will turn in a story by a certain date. But in the big picture, what spurs me to write is the joy of creating characters and stories from thin air and watching them come to life. I do a lot of brainstorming with friends (and sisters, who are also friends.)

I think I must be a terrible interviewee. What is this, three questions in a row that I really don’t know how to answer?

My story and character ideas come out of my head. Out of me saying, “What if there was a girl and she wanted to. . .No, no, wait. . .what if she didn’t want to. . .but then she had to. . .because. . .” When I talk about writing at schools, I call this the “What if?” game. It’s fun to play alone or with friends. All of my stories start with this game.

Finish this question. My favorite kind of story is . . .one that grabs me from the first page and holds me—mesmerized—until the end. It has elements of suspense, romance, and humor. The characters become real to me almost immediately and by the end, I dread saying good-bye to them. And when it’s all said and done, I feel like I’m different. . .for the better. . .for having read the book. The story lingers with me for days.

Any parting words?
For aspiring writers, two words—Don’t quit. For readers, take a chance on a new author. And if you love a book, tell everyone, and look for the next one the author has out.

You are a very good interviewee, Christine, and I appreciate your candid answers to my questions. Thanks for sharing with us!
Thanks again for having me!

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