Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Christina Carson, author of Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know. I featured Christina in 2013 and reviewed Suffer the Little Children. I love reading her blog, and recently I had the pleasure of reading Dying to Know.
My review will be published later this week. I’ll only say that the book resonated with me, and I’m walking around the house spouting some of her wonderful insights.
The Backdoor Writer by Christina Carson
I’m what I call a backdoor writer. I didn’t write from the get go, using my first crayon to craft a story. I didn’t study literature but trained instead as a scientist. I didn’t think of myself as a writer until I was almost 50. And I didn’t start writing to become a writer, but rather to record a period of my life that had meant everything to me, but was over and would never replay. I wrote to document the stories of that time, the people who filled them and capture the love, hilarity, and true friendship I knew there.
I was a product of the civilized establishment of east coast United States before I left home and ended up in a “frontiersy,” wild, northern Alberta settlement to raise sheep. I stumbled into a life I never knew existed, hard but poignant, rough but tender, comical and real. The life exposed me to the good and the ugly of who I was. When I put the stories of that time on paper, I realized not only could I write, but I also loved doing it, and it was then my life as a writer began.
Long before my farming years, I had become disgruntled with day-to-day living. Too much of how I’d been taught to live didn’t make sense. I began looking for something I couldn’t even name that might bring meaning and purpose to a life that felt increasingly empty. My fifteen years of farming intensified that drive, for its demand for honesty and resiliency gave me a different taste of life. What haunted me most, however, were the big questions: who are we; what are we; why are we here? I called my endeavors human cosmology, for rather than religion, truth was what I sought to know.
Today I write books that reflect my continuing desire to explore life. I write fiction because I’d like the reader to live the story as if it were true life for them too, give them an opportunity to journey along with the characters and garner their own insights. Characters fascinate me. When readers include my characters in a conversation and talk about them the way they would an old friend, I feel I’ve succeeded.
Take Dying to Know, for example. Callie Morrow is a 36-year-old professional photographer who, having never challenged herself in any area of her life, suddenly sees it could now be over before it even began. Having watched her mother die of cancer using the traditional route of treatment, when Callie is diagnosed with the disease, she uncharacteristically takes a stand against that route, tentatively offering, “There’s got to be another way.” She shocks her childhood group of friends and disturbs all around her with her seeming irrationality, except for her Chinese friend Mary Chang and her Inuit artist friend Joe Kuptana. With the help of the worldviews these two people bring to her life, she starts a journey for which she had no map or sense of direction.
It took me three years to write this book so that it would offer a realistic portrayal of someone coming to understand health and well-being from a completely different paradigm yet continue to make sense to a reader who might not have entertained such concepts prior. My characters had to be thinkers in their own right, but unexposed to alternative views of the nature and laws of life. They also had to represent the reactions my readers might have toward Calli and her quest: amazement, disgust, curiosity, resistance, intense fear and abandonment. I wanted to make a place where each reader could fit in, move along with the group and perhaps make discoveries for themselves.
I am a writer. I don’t write to entertain; I write to inspire. I don’t encourage spectators. I want the reader to root for themselves as much as for the protagonist and experience new ideas, uncommon relationships and a deep sense of possibility before one of my novels comes to a close. For 40 years, I’ve been exploring life. My novels give a reader the opportunity to do the same in the company of friends.
About Christina Carson: I am 68 years old and have worn many caps and walked many roads. I started in research as a scientist even before graduation, then taught in nursing for a number of years, owned a masonry contracting business with a mate and worked at that and building houses. I went on to farm. I am a creature of the land and love animals. That life was a dream until it ended. I then went on to become a stock broker, which I hated, and then the aimless period began with intense doubt and chaos. I was there for years making it up as I went along and spending a great deal of time afraid and despairing.
I will forever consider Canada my home, but I returned to the states in 1996 after 30 years in Canada to marry a man I met in Vancouver where I lived for five years. He and I are perfectly suited to one another in intent, direction and integrity and as for the rest, we play that by ear.
Book Info: I end up in the genre of literary fiction by default. I don’t come close to fitting into any of the other proffered boxes. Adventure and philosophy – when are they going to stitch that together in a genre?
Christina, I so agree with you about the genre types offered. I made up my own–environmental fiction–but usually end up in literary or contemporary fiction. Thank you so much for offering us an insight into how and why you became a writer. Your passion for the craft is evident as well as your intent of showing your readers there are other paths.
Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/Christina-Carson/e/B006PM2QMM
Venture Galleries: I write for them and am a member of their Authors Collection
Books that Entertain and Inspire: http://christinacarsonauthor.com/
Asked and Answered: http://christinacarson-blogging.blogspot.com/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/