Linda Chaikin interview on Focus on Fiction

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Focus on Fiction is pleased to feature

Linda Chaikin

Linda has written numerous top-selling books and captured the hearts and imaginations of a world of readers.  Her books include Tomorrow's Treasure, the Heart of India Trilogy, A Day to Remember series, the Empire Builders, Royal Pavilion Trilogy, Arabian Winds Trilogy, The Buccaneers Trilogy, and For Whom the Stars Shine, a finalist for the prestigious Christy Award. Two of her novels have been awarded the Silver Angel Award for excellence and several have been bestsellers. Linda is a graduate of Multnomah Biblical Seminary. She and her husband Steve make their home in Northern California. - free web hosting. Free hosting with no banners.

Focus:   Linda, you've written an amazing number of books for the Christian market. How many books have you had published since you began in 1990?

Linda Chaikin:  I have had 28 books published.

Focus:  Our readers have several of your masterpieces to look forward to this winter.  Can you give us a brief synopsis of Desert Star and Yesterday's Promise, and tell us when these books will be available in stores?

Linda Chaikin:  Desert Star is to be released in January 04. Here is a quick preview:

Is Callie destined to be a shining star in the desert?

Virginia City, 1862--Rivaling the stars in the sky on a clear desert night, the beautiful Callie Halliday O'Day glitters as she sweeps across the stage at the gilded Stardust Theater. With her career on the rise, she dreams of Broadway and revels in the fame and fortune her upcoming marriage to the dashing Ashe Perry, an acclaimed actor in his own right, will bring.

But Callie's uncle questions Ashe's faith, and then Gordon Barkly, the local newspaperman, makes stunning accusations about Ashe's past associations. Still, it isn't until Callie narrowly escapes death that she hesitates in her commitment to Ashe. Is he who he says he is? And what about the handsome Rick Delance? Although he steps in to protect her, his reputation as a gunfighter repels her.

When a shocking murder breaks the peace, violence erupts as Rick's desire for revenge overlaps a dispute regarding ownership of a local silver mine. Caught in the crossfire, Callie, Ashe, and Rick face life-changing decisions. Will Ashe reveal his heart? Will Rick hear God's quiet call? Will Callie discover the secret to love?

Yesterday's Promise is coming out in February 04. This is book two of my South African Trilogy, East of the Sun, that takes place during the founding of Rhodesia.  I'll let the back book cover offer a preview for this one:

He fought to seek his fortune. Would he lose a greater treasure: the love he left behind?

As the son of the squire of Grimston Way, aristocrat Rogan Chantry fought hard to win his independence from Sir Julien Bley and the British South Africa Company. Now, his pursuit of a mysterious deposit of gold, marked on a map willed to him by his murdered uncle, Henry Chantry, is challenged by a new complication: the impending British colonization of South Africa. Can Rogan find the gold in the midst of escalating tensions among the native tribesmen, the missionaries sent to win them, and the new colonists?

Meanwhile in England, Evy Varley, the woman Rogan loves, is headed for a brave yet dangerous confrontation with Henry's killer-but at what price? With so much against Rogan and Evy, a reunion seems improbable, if not impossible. Can yesterday's promise hold them faithful to the hope of future freedom and a victorious love?

Focus:  Your story characters have worked with William Carey in India, battled Byzantine intrigue during the Crusades, sailed the Caribbean as pirates, fought for faith and treasure in the deserts of Arabia, served as secret agents in France… the list goes on and on.  With many authors choosing to base their stories closer to home, what motivated your choice of these exotic story locations?

Linda Chaikin:  There are a few different reasons:   First, I enjoy history.   Second, there is great comfort in seeing how God has worked in the past at different locations.  Third, there are areas of history that Christians don't know how to explain, e.g.: the Crusades.  And fourth, there is value in not forgetting the work of believer's in the past.

Focus:  The historical detail you include in your stories is incredible.  Can you give us a general estimate of the hours you spend researching and writing each book?

Linda Chaikin:  I spend a month or more studying the history of a period before I start writing.

Focus:  Your female characters are strong, adventurous women who live their faith to the fullest and often find themselves in danger's path due to their bold convictions.  Is there one specific heroine in your stories with whom you most identify?

Linda Chaikin:  That would be Allison Wescott in the Egyptian, Arabian Winds Series. She probably best represents my heart for God, Country, Duty and Honor.

Focus:  There's a wonderful history behind your book, Wednesday's Child.  Can you tell our readers how old you were when you first penned this manuscript, and fill us in on the process it went through to become part of your Day to Remember series?

Linda Chaikin:  At age fourteen I wrote my first full-length novel, using a pen and pad of paper. I was actually like Jo in Little Women who always had ink stains on her fingers! Later, when I was around seventeen, one of my seven brothers bought me a typewriter. I could write anywhere, even in a room full of people with the television going. Unfortunately I've lost that ability! That novel, of course, was never published as it was first written. What a heartbreak when that big New York publishing house sent it back with a rejection notice. I had been so certain it would be another Gone with the Wind!

Recently, I rewrote that very first novel and was delighted to see it come out in October, 2000 under the title, Wednesday's Child, in The Day to Remember series.

Focus:  Before your first story was published, you went through a real yielding process with your writing.  Would you be willing to share with our readers a few things God worked in your heart during that time?

Linda Chaikin:  As a teenager,  I was so motivated to become a published author that I came very close to writing romance novels that would corrupt the minds of my readers. I thank God that never happened. I was in the middle of actually writing such a romance when my mother turned on the radio one noon in Los Angeles, and the late Dr. J.V. McGee's voice came across loud and clear: "What's keeping you from yielding your entire life to the Lord, my friend? What's your little ewe lamb--the thing that is keeping you from God? Is there anything in your life that means more to you than knowing Jesus Christ and obeying His will?"

I believed he was speaking directly to me. I knew exactly what that "idol" was. That ambition that I would not surrender to His Lordship because I felt that if I couldn't write, I couldn't be happy. After the program, I must have paced the living-room floor for half the morning with that half-finished manuscript in my arms. One would have thought it was a solid bar of gold. In reality, it was nothing except hay, wood, and stubble. I knew I was being asked to make a clean break, whatever the cost, even if it meant I would 'never' write and sell my work.

In response to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, I made the right decision that day. I dumped all the pages into the trash. I knew if that I kept it in the closet I'd be tempted to go back to it during discouragement. I didn't write again for many years. At that time publishers rarely accepted Christian fiction. It seemed that you either wrote to feed the unbeliever's old nature, or you just did not write. So I walked away from writing and spent several years in intense Bible study. Then, for fifteen years, the Lord gave me the special privilege of teaching Bible classes for teens and children in my neighborhood. I forgot about writing and didn't miss it. During that time I learned that the Lord alone satisfies and that I need not fear surrendering my will to Him.

Focus:  In her biography of you in the book Behind the Stories, Diane Eble mentions a fantasy trilogy you wrote after reading some of C.S. Lewis's work.  Do you have any plans to see that trilogy published?

Linda Chaikin:  Like many writers, I have manuscripts sitting in the closet. I began the huge fantasy trilogy to get back into writing again. I would love to have it published, but the market is tight right now, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Focus:  Do you believe writing is a calling God has placed on your life, or simply a talent or career direction you have chosen to pursue?

Linda Chaikin:  I believe God has called me to write and will lay upon my heart ways of edifying the Bride of Christ.

Focus:  What do you feel is the greatest message with which God has entrusted you, and why have you chosen fiction as the medium for that message?

Linda Chaikin:  Early on I was deeply impressed with the clear demonstration of "good and evil" in novels by C.S. Lewis. Through Lewis's books the Lord showed me that there were ways to write fiction that would honor Him. This led to my writing stories that deal with the struggles and testing of Christians. The challenge is to use solid Biblical truth while making learning enjoyable. I carefully research my historical backgrounds. I want the reader to be able to take something away that's lasting, not just "tickle" their ears. This means lots of research, planning, and most importantly---maintaining my own spiritual walk.

Focus:  Is there a particular book among those you've written that you would especially recommend to our readers?  If so, why?

Linda Chaikin:  That would be the South African Trilogy, East of Sun, that I am presently working on.  I am very excited about these stories.

Focus:  I've noticed that a number of your books contain maps and drawings by an individual named "S. Chaikin".  Could you tell us who this person is, and how they work in partnership with you in your writing?

Linda Chaikin:  My husband, Steve, has made maps for several of my books. He is also my encourager, and first editor before a manuscripts goes to the publisher. I bounce ideas off of him and sometimes he comes up with alternatives that I use. As you can see, after 32 years of marriage, we have a great partnership.

Focus:  What message do you hope to communicate to readers of your stories?

Linda Chaikin:  That God is in control and is faithful in all circumstances, that disappointments, trials, and joys all have a purpose.

Focus:  How can your readers and fans encourage you? 

Linda Chaikin:  Read my books and then write and tell me a few specifics about what you enjoyed!

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