By Deena Adams
Today, I’m pleased to introduce author, Christina Ryan Claypool. I’ve never met Christina in person but we’ve corresponded through email and I believe she has a sincere heart for the Lord and seeks to honor Him through her writing.
For a chance to win a copy of her novel, Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife, simply comment on the interview!
Welcome, Christina! Let’s start with how and when you started writing.
I began writing in the early 1970s as a troubled teen. After surviving a near fatal suicide attempt, I was committed to Ohio’s Toledo State Mental Hospital. During those long months, I wrote about my feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and depression. God used writing to enable me to survive.
I’m so sorry you went through such a difficult time, but I’m glad you survived and are willing to share your story. What led you to write contemporary novels? And what unique challenges does writing about today’s culture present?
I had a passion for what they call ‘recovery work’ within the Christian church, addressing challenging, difficult issues in a nonfiction sort of way. Then I realized that a lot of people are not going to read nonfiction recovery work. They’re not going to read a self-help book, but they’ll read fiction, and you can still address challenging problems through that.
Because I wanted to address complex issues, I had to balance this desire with the goal of making the novel an entertaining and uplifting read.
I totally agree with God using fiction to reach those in difficult situations. So, how do you incorporate Christ and hope into your writing?
The truth is when you love Jesus and have followed Him for a long time, God’s Word becomes part of you and the love you have for Him pours out and filters everything one does in this life.
Writing is no different. The balance is to not make your writing too preachy and turn off those who are unbelievers. This way it can be an evangelistic tool and it should always point to hope. Hope is the most important thing to give the reader, but only God’s Spirit can do that.
I’m all about sharing hope through our fiction writing. And God teaches us as we write, doesn’t He? What did He teach you through the writing of Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife?
Secrets have such power in holding us in a prison of the past. If we are honest, most of us have secrets, and those secrets really do make us sick if they are not exposed to God’s love and light and healed.
So true. Tell us which character in Secrets of a Pastor’s Wife was easiest for you to write and why.
There is an important character, besides the two main characters. Her name is Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones. Lizzie is based on a precious lady named Miss Clemmie who is an important part of my own history, so she was really easy to write about.
To explain, during the racially turbulent sixties, as a Caucasian child growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t know anything about racism. Therefore, it seemed only natural when Miss Clemmie came to take care of me and my siblings while my mom was seriously ill.
Miss Clemmie was an extremely overweight African-American woman who had a heart as huge as the girth that surrounded it. My financially struggling family couldn’t have paid her much of a salary, yet she lovingly looked after all of us. With Miss Clemmie there, I instinctively knew that everything would be alright.
What I didn’t know then was that a Civil Rights movement was being birthed out of the frustration regarding injustices that African Americans like Clemmie could no longer bear. Not yet a first grader, I couldn’t imagine anyone hating such a wonderful woman, simply for the color of her skin.
Eventually, my mother regained her health, so Clemmie no longer came to care for us. Yet her colorblind love, which was based on her faith in the Gospel’s message, “…Love one another, as I have loved you…” had made a lasting impression.
If only we could all live out that scripture and love like Christ. On another note, what was the hardest scene for you to write?
The suicide scene was by far the most difficult to write. I almost died by suicide myself as a very young woman. I realized what a weighty responsibility it was to not trigger anyone emotionally, and still to provide God’s grace and point to His comfort.
In addition, I have lived through losing more than one close loved one to suicide and I did not want to stir up the pain of those emotions and grief within myself or especially within a fragile reader. Yet, since it is a topic that is rarely discussed, I wanted to bring healing to those who had lived through it.
There can be such a sense of guilt for those left behind when a loved one completes suicide, and I wanted to see people set free. It took me a long time to find this freedom through Christ. Writing the novel enabled me to heal more in this area, too.
I’m so thankful you found freedom in Christ and are sharing that with others. Many fiction authors share impactful stories that help people heal. Who is your favorite fiction author? Favorite novel?
I can’t select just one favorite author. Sorry, there are too many good ones.
But Francine River’s, “ Redeeming Love” is definitely my all-time favorite novel and her writing style is beyond incredible.
Best book for 2020: A recent book, ” Afraid of the Light,” by Cynthia Ruchti remains on my 2020 list as best book of the year.
Redeeming Love is my favorite as well! And I loved Afraid of the Light. Wrapping up, besides posting comments on your website, how can your readers and fans support you?
Please, please, please write positive reviews if you think a book you read deserves one. The most powerful thing a reader can do to support an author is to write a positive review, especially on Amazon.
Plus, sites like Goodreads, BookBub, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbooks.com. Although it’s extremely helpful if they also place their reviews on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, etc.
Any last words for your readers?
For anyone who has taken the time to read any of my books, I want to thank you personally. Words cannot adequately express the honor that it is for a reader to select an author’s work as something valuable enough to invest their limited free time in. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God bless you!
Thanks so much for your time Christina, and sharing about your life and writing. Blessings to you!
Join the conversation. Have you read any novels that helped heal a hurt in your life? Do you enjoy reading stories that deal with hard topics like suicide and bring hope in a hopeless situation? Be sure to comment by March 9 for a chance to win a copy of Christina’s novel.
Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife by Christina Ryan Claypool
Click the book cover for Amazon purchase link
Wherever Cassandra Martin goes, her secrets go with her. And hiding her past is beginning to take a toll.
Cassie lives in a small white parsonage in the village of Maple Grove. For 15 years, the beautiful and talented artist has appeared to be the perfect wife for Rev. John Martin, the new pastor at Maple Avenue Community Church.
The couple has moved frequently, and Pastor John is too busy with other people’s problems to notice Cassie’s distress. She has no close friends to confide in, fearing her secrets could jeopardize her husband’s position.
That’s until Maple Grove coffee shop owner Katherine “Katie” Montague embraces Cassie as if she were the daughter she never had. Sensing her pastor’s wife is haunted by something tragic, the caring widow begins praying for her. Will Cassie trust Katie with the pain of her past or will she let the secrets destroy her?
Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife features discussion questions for women’s book clubs, church small groups, and recovery ministries. Entertaining and inspiring fiction, this compelling storyline will encourage emotional healing, forgiveness, and restored faith.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a National Amy and Ohio APME award-winning freelance journalist and Christian speaker who has been featured on Joyce Meyer Ministries Enjoying Everyday Life TV show and on CBN’s 700 Club. Her inspiring fictional, “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is her most recent book. Christina is also a four-time Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor, who has written two Christian recovery books. She has a B. A. from Bluffton University and an M.A. from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Besides loving God and her family, coffee and chocolate really are her favorite things.
Please share this interview on social media to support Christina and spread the word about her book.
If you missed last week’s interview with J.M. Hackman, find it here.