Find a Christian store

Interview With C.J. Darlington

Hi CJ, Welcome and thanks for chatting with us today!
It’s my pleasure! Thanks so much for having me.

You’ve been on quite a journey with your book Thicker Than Blood. Can you share with us some highlights leading up to the book’s eventual contract for publication with Tyndale House?
The biggest highlight so far was when Jerry B. Jenkins announced Thicker than Blood as the 2008 winner of the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. I attended the Writing for the Soul conference (where they announced the winner) only knowing I was one of four finalists. When I heard my novel had won, I was floored. And then they brought out a poster of the book cover! Seeing that for the first time was such a thrill. And knowing I was going to have the chance to work with Tyndale House and my editor Jan Stob was also thrilling. They really got the novel and believed in it.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Not giving up. And trust me, I had many days when I wanted to throw in the towel. As a matter of fact, I almost gave up on Thicker Than Blood. I had entered an early version of Thicker than Blood in the 2004 Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. A couple months later I found out it had placed as a semi-finalist, but not as a finalist.

I started submitting proposals to editors, and started receiving back rejections. I revised the book a couple times and lengthened it by about 10,000 words. But after four years, still no publishers wanted it. I got close once or twice, but I began to feel discouraged and wondered if maybe I should put the novel in a drawer and start submitting something else.

I was days away from setting it in a drawer and moving onto my second book when the Lord prompted me to enter the 2008 Operation First Novel contest, which it won!

You have been in the business of promoting Christian fiction and entertainment for some time through How does it feel to be on the other side of the fence, with a book of your own to promote?
It’s amazing! has given me a unique perspective. I will often approach a media outlet differently knowing what it feels like to be pitched to. And it’s definitely fun to be on the other side of the microphone for a change!

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Time management is something I’ve struggled with a lot. Since writing isn’t my full-time job I’ve had to learn to not put it on the back burner. Some days I’ll put off writing until I’m too exhausted to write anything coherent, and that’s a mistake. I’m still learning how to balance it all.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My faith is the reason why I write. My goal is to share spiritual truths through stories. Themes of redemption flow through just about everything I’ve ever written. I love writing about hurting people coming to find forgiveness and peace.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
Having the honor of winning the Christian Writers Guild contest was a huge moment for me, but every time I hear from someone who’s actually read my book is an amazing moment. I’m so honored to have that privilege.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
My characters come from everywhere! One night while I was out walking in my back yard I had this thought, “What if all I had were the clothes on my back? What would I do? Where would I go?” I held onto that “what if” for several years before I used it in a story.

Sometimes I’ll base a character on a real person in my life. For instance, the veterinarian character Beth Eckert who works with her father in Thicker than Blood was inspired by my local vet, a father/daughter practice.

The villain for my second novel was based loosely on a real person in my life too!

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Hmm… good question. I’ve been told my descriptions are a strong part of my writing. One aspect that perhaps sets my stories apart is that I leave the romance to others much more skilled than I am! Love is a big part of my novels, but it’s usually familial love or friendship that takes center stage.

If you were to change anything about your journey to publication, what would it be?
I wish I would’ve been a little more patient and realized writing is an apprenticeship. It can take years and years before we develop our craft enough to even think about publication. And the journey is just beginning when you finish your novel.

What’s next for CJ?
If you find out, let me know. Just kidding. I have completed the sequel to Thicker Than Blood, and some of the major characters in Thicker become minor characters in this one. The working title is Innocent Blood, and I’m really excited about it! I get to return to some of my favorite settings---a rare bookstore and a Colorado ranch.

Thanks for sharing with us, CJ!

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.