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Interview with Cindy Williams

As she celebrates the release of her debut novel, a Biblical fiction titled The Silk Merchant of Sychar, Cindy Williams shares a wealth of insight from her former career as a nutritional speaker and writer.

Welcome, Cindy, and congratulations on your new release. You’ve chosen a well-known and poignant Biblical story for this novel. What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
There are so many messages one can take from this story. I hope that the Holy Spirit speaks to each reader with just what they need.

For me, the two biggest takeaways are:
Jesus knows everything about us – and always speaks to our deepest ‘issue’ when we come into his presence. This is the reason that Leah was so astounded – and it’s the reason that many townspeople believed when she said, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’

Second, the Lord uses us in ways we may never plan or intend. Leah was concerned about coping with the messiness of her life yet she unintentionally ended up being one of the first evangelists for Jesus!

You’ve spent years speaking and writing about the importance of healthy eating, and now you’ve ventured into the world of Christian fiction. What do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Prayer and my writing group.

Prayer was essential to keep me committed to writing when I was tempted by prestigious nutrition job offers and had no friends or family encouraging me to write.

For me, writing a novel is like having an assignment with no deadline, and that nobody wants! Without my writing group I would never have finished. We met every Tuesday afternoon and so most Tuesday mornings you would find me frantically trying to write my self-imposed goal of one thousand words to read out to the group. They gave no sugar-coated platitudes; just honest criticism, super helpful suggestions and genuine encouragement. They were a ‘god-send’ and yet most of the group were avid atheists!

What led you to change paths a little and pursue a career in the Christian fiction industry? What have been the biggest surprises so far?
I loved my high profile nutrition career so much that I would pray, ‘Lord, I know I should put you first but I can’t.’ What a dangerous prayer! I’m sure the Lord smiled and said: ‘I can help you with that!’

At the same time I had written a nutrition book that a big publisher was set to take on but at the last moment they cancelled. I was devastated and I felt the Lord saying, ‘I’m not going to let you write a book until you get your motives right.’

‘Okay,’ I said, ‘when you think I’ve got the right motives, please give me a story.’

It happened a few years later… and took fifteen years to write. During that time I had three international moves, lived in ten different homes in four different cities and had a baby. That’s one way to wrest a career from someone’s white knuckled grasp.

The biggest surprise has been just recently as I have realized that the Lord has given me the one thing I missed as a dietitian: I couldn’t speak about true health, the health of body, soul and spirit. As a Christian author I have a legitimate platform to speak about spiritual health as well as food and exercise.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I pray for the Lord to give me the story he wants me to write, and the plot. For this book, I was not at all interested in the woman at the well. I wanted to write a novel based on my granddad’s war diaries. But He had other ideas.

I have only a vague idea of where I am going with a plot. I’ll have a few incidents or maybe a character. I trust that the Lord will give me ideas as I go along. It’s like walking along a dark path with a light shining only a few feet ahead. In the book I am working on now, a prostitute has shoved her way into the story – and I’m trying to ignore her!

Nutrition, I could do in my own strength. Writing, I cannot. With these two books I found that if I was in a hurry and started writing without first praying for the Lord’s help, I would struggle to write anything. It was like writing through mud. I cannot write without first praying.

What do you find different from your current fiction career and the career you had as a speaker and nonfiction writer?
The greatest difference is being stuck at home in front of a computer rather than out interacting with others.

Also, fiction writing can feel as though it’s not a real career: you don’t go out to work, you don’t get paid, and years go by with nothing to show for your work. Fiction writers need great inner strength.

The style of writing is different too. Fiction requires learning a whole new set of techniques.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Poetic. My style is quite poetic. It fits the biblical fiction genre, and also the Maori character of my first book.

Concise. Years of writing nutrition copy for advertising taught me to write succinctly. Also, as soon as I get bored of writing a scene, I wrap it up and move on!

Action. Whenever I sit down to write, I hear my husband and son saying, ‘Why can’t you write like Tom Clancy?’ So I try to keep the action happening.

Word of God. I try to include words and phrases from the Bible. The word of God is living and active and I believe God’s word can slip under a person’s defenses like a double edged sword, and minister to them without them realizing. It worked with my atheist writing group. They would sigh with delight at something a character said; not realizing it was from the Bible.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Running around the beautiful Sydney waterfront; working out at the gym with my husband; spin classes with my friend – especially the chatting on the stretch mat afterwards.
Coffee and prayer with friends. Teaching scripture at a primary school. Cooking – Middle Eastern is my favorite right now. Traveling – a wonderful way to meet people with different perspectives, and to collect stories and great photos for writing!

Finish this statement: In the future, I will…

… continue to pray for God to give me His words and ideas to entertain, encourage and inspire people.

Any parting words?
If you feel the Lord leading you to write, be obedient and be patient. Do the work: set goals, do writing courses, keep learning, trust the Lord’s timing.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

May the Lord bless you greatly.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works in the health & wellness and personal development industries, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a Shiba Inu-mix named Nova. She has sold over 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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