Glowing Author #11
Walking on Broken Glass, Christa Allan’s addition to Abingdon Press’s fabulous fiction list, has already garnered a coveted glowing review in Publishers Weekly, scads of great reader reviews, and top-of-the-charts sales. Yay, Christa! Today Christa is giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at her workings with her main character, Leah.
Here’s what I discovered after spending so much time writing a novel in first person. When it’s finished, you hobble around for a while like you’re wearing only one shoe.
Then, because I’m a mother and a writer and therefore doomed to be lovingly neurotic, I wondered and worried about my character. Did I say enough? do enough? care enough? Would she be able to exist apart from me? My family, of course, seriously considered therapy or an intervention or both.
This notion of writing Leah proved cathartic. And now that I’m beginning my second novel, I’m wondering if writing a “before” letter to my main character might make for an interesting read after I write “The End.” I’ll let you know how that works out!
In the meantime, you can find me at:
My website: www.christaallan.com
Thanks, Kay, for sharing your readers.
After living with you for over a year, I’ve experienced palpable separation anxiety since February 1 when you broke out on your own. Considering what you experienced because of me, perhaps that comes as a relief to you.
I hope this letter is your passport to real freedom.
A few chapters in, I almost changed your name. I’d chosen it because it was lyrical and soft without being prissy. Then, one morning reading my Bible, I came across the story of the manipulation of your father, Laban, in giving you to Jacob after he worked seven years to marry your sister. So, instead of the rivetingly beautiful in face and form Rachel, he found himself husband to her “dull-eyed” sister, Leah. And though Jacob accepted Leah as his wife, he worked another seven years for Laban to reward him with Rachel.
I ached for Leah, for the seven years she spent birthing sons for a man whose sweat and labor daily brought her younger sister one day closer to his bed. And after Rachel became his wife, the contest between the two sisters played itself out in pregnancies. Leah gave Jacob six sons and a daughter, and never felt as if she had acquired his affections. Rachel died giving birth to her second son, and never felt as if she’d earned his affections. The sisters never understood that fertility or barrenness did not earn Jacob’s love.
I didn’t want you to be this Leah. This woman who seemed weak and insecure and cast off. But, I reasoned, I’m writing fiction. I can develop Leah into a character with resilience and confidence and charisma. And so I wrote.
The irony I discovered along the way both surprised and horrified me. You drank and pretended to be the Leah I wanted because you saw yourself as the Leah I didn’t want. The gauntlet was thrown, and the challenge was mine to accept or refuse. Could I turn you inside out to reveal what you had drowned with years of drinking? Could I love you enough to risk your hating me for the wounds you’d experience that would heal themselves in your wholeness?
Maybe this doesn’t help now, but I want you to know you never suffered alone. I shadowed you with each step of hope that led to leaps of faith.
I can hear God say to you, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight. . .” (Matthew 12:18 NIV). The journey is yours now.
“Maybe this doesn’t help now, but I want you to know you never suffered alone.”
Christa Allan, to her character Leah