C. J. Darlington is a fellow homeschooler who caught my attention when her first novel won the 2008 Operation First Novel contest from Tyndale House. Since then, I’ve been following her blog and reading her novels. Here, I’m excited to chat with C. J. about homeschooling, writing, and what’s next!
TKM: Thicker Than Blood is your very first novel, started when you were in your teens, and has been through many revisions. What kept you working on this novel instead of just starting something new?
CJ: I think part of it was that I’d come to really care about the characters. It was almost as if they’d become my friends! I couldn’t leave them high and dry. Also, as I grew in my writing craft I would find new things to change and fix to make the story better.
TKM: How would you say being homeschooled has influenced your life and your writing?
CJ: I truly believe if it weren’t for my parents homeschooling my sister and me, I wouldn’t be here responding to your questions today. Homeschooling taught me how to learn, how to teach myself. I learn best that way. If I didn’t know something, I knew I could find out. That’s definitely helped me in writing, but also in other aspects of my life.
Plus, having the support of my parents was monumental.
Curious about other homeschoolers and what they’ve done post-graduation? Check out my homeschool interviews!
TKM: All of your jobs so far seem to have something to do with books. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
CJ: Great question! I’ve been a book lover my whole life, so I have a feeling books will always be with me in some way. But I could see myself pursuing other creative arts like painting or drawing. Lately I’ve been really drawn to working with horses. Who knows! Maybe God has plans for me that involve them. I think I’d like that a lot.
TKM: Is there a sequel coming for Thicker Than Blood?
CJ: Yes! I have already written a sequel, titled Bound by Guilt. Some of the main characters from Thicker become minor characters in Bound. I’m really, really excited about this story. Rare books also play an important role in the second book too, especially a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
The story revolves around a sixteen-year-old girl named Roxi who finds herself homeless and in deep trouble. It’s about her longing for love and a family, especially a mother figure. Another main character is Abby Dawson, the sister of Christy’s boss Hunter Dawson in Thicker than Blood.
TKM: What advice would you give to other writers trying to submit their novels to contests?
CJ: Once you submit, try to forget about them! LOL. Seriously, it’s so hard to not wonder every minute what’s happening to your submission. But it’s very important to keep writing and not put all your eggs in one basket/contest.
Also, I know some contests will offer feedback on your submissions. That’s fantastic and helpful for new writers, but also don’t forget to trust your instincts. Just because one person doesn’t like your story doesn’t mean it’s time to put it in a drawer.
If you’re looking for more advice about writing, check out my ebook 112 Christian Authors and Publishing Professionals Share Their Best Advice for Novelists.
TKM: Did having a popular blog and website help you get published?
CJ: Ironically, my blog and website had nothing to do with my being published. When Tyndale House chose the winning manuscript in the 2008 Operation First Novel contest, no names were attached to them. They had no idea who wrote Thicker Than Blood. It won based on story alone. Now, my blog and website have really been a huge asset to help spread the word after the book came out, but they didn’t actually land me a contract.
TKM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CJ: Thank you, Bonnie, for all that you do to spread the word about great books. It’s a huge encouragement to authors to hear from people like you. Thanks for allowing me to share here on your blog.
TKM: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
To find out more about C. J. Darlington and her books, drop by her website.