When you’re the once divorced, twice married recovering alcoholic wife of a Jewish husband, mother of twins (one of the two has Down’s Syndrome) and three other children, a daughter whose husband is black (and she’s not), and sister of a gay brother…well, just where are you going to go with that?
I never intended to write about issues. They found me first. And when I first discovered Christian fiction, I wanted, needed, characters with whom I could identify. Sure, I found some novels with characters that were alcoholics, or gay, or parents of special-needs children. But, generally, they weren’t the protagonists or their situations didn’t mirror life as I saw it.
As someone who came to Jesus in my late 30s, I wondered if I was an anomaly or if the people in the pews around me had equally messy lives. Good grief…I was the one flipping pages furiously in my Bible during sermon time trying to find the scripture passage (could the Spirit have led to an alphabetically organized Bible? and could someone have explained to me sooner that Hebrews is not in the Old Testament?), I surely wasn’t going to start blabbering about my poster family for dysfunctionality in Sunday School classes.
When I started writing for publication, my first idea was a romance novel. Girl meets boy, they hate each other, then they like each other. Five pages in, and I was done. My husband suggested I write a mystery. I couldn’t even figure out who the killer was, so surely that wasn’t going to work either. The notion to write about a woman alcoholic emerged after sharing with a co-worker that I’d been a recovering alcoholic for over twenty years. Her surprise that an average teacher-mommy-wife who led an otherwise average life was ever an alcoholic was my epiphany.
We never know by looking at people what’s going on in their lives. So many look so bright-faced happy and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives. Like those families in the picture frames sold in stores (who ARE those people, by the way?!). But turn those pictures over, and what’s there…nothing. That’s not the life God planned for us. He wants our lives to be framed by His love. We are called to compassion and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.
Too many Christian families suffer in silence. Alcoholism, drug, sex, or food addiction, lifestyles are all the big elephants in the room we don’t talk about. But we all know they exist because they’re stepping on our toes and squeezing the life out of many of us.
And that’s my passion for writing, to expose the elephants. My goal is not for my novels to be labeled as “edgy”; I don’t write for the purpose of sensationalizing. I want to comfort people facing issues in their lives, to let them know that being a Christian doesn’t mean immunity from the world’s problems. But if my words can pierce the façade, then my readers can see God on the other side.
Christa Allan is the award-winning author of Walking on Broken Glass, The Edge of Grace, and Love Finds You in New Orleans. Thread of Hope, her next novel in Abingdon’s Quilts of Hope series, will release in March.. You can find her at www.christaallan.com, Facebook, and Twitter. When she’s not frantically meeting deadlines, she teaches high school English. She is the mother of five and the grammy of two Christa and her husband recently moved to New Orleans to live in a home older than their combined ages. Their three neurotic cats are adjusting.