Friday, January 17, 2014

Historical Fiction: An Interview with Author Christine Lindsay

Today my guest is author Christine Lindsay. Do you ever use the word "raj" for more than merely scoring big in Words with Friends? Time to brush up on some history

How did you come up with the idea for your novel Shadowed in Silk?

I wanted to tell a story set in the flamboyant era of British rule over India called “The Raj.” While reading about Colonial India, I discovered the Indian people felt invisible to their English rulers and so-called protectors.

Add to that, the feeling of being invisible as an individual. As a kid I watched my mother suffer in secret as my alcoholic father mistreated her and neglected us kids. 

Along with that, mix in the mystery of Indian culture of veiled women in Purdah, secrets brewing behind fretted marble screens, and the theme of invisibility emerged.

BTW, that gorgeous girl on the book cover is my birth-daughter, Sarah. I made an adoption plan for Sarah when she was three days old, and I was reunited with her twenty years later. As a birthmother in the days of closed adoptions, I felt invisible to my own child.

What is your favorite scene in Shadowed in Silk?

Miriam’s death scene. Miriam is an older Indian woman who is also a former Hindu widow who found life in Christ. For many years Miriam has run a clinic/orphanage for castoff women and children. Writing her selfless death scene, and of her slipping into eternity with Christ, still makes me cry. And gives me goose bumps.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

I wanted to tackle the issue of spousal abuse with delicacy. Writing the scene in which Abby’s husband strikes her was hard. I wanted it real, but not maudlin or melodramatic. I also worked hard at showing Abby not as a victim, but much like my mother, a woman who refuses to submit to cruelty.  
You have visited India. What was your impression of the country? What surprised you?

In 2010, I visited the south of India to observe and report back on the vibrant ministry, Children’s Camps International.

I was shocked to recognize around me so much of what I’d researched. A great deal of the British Raj is still in existence in the railways and administrative buildings. In fact, I was convinced some of the trains we rode came out of the colonial period, they were so old.

It was as though I’d stepped back in time and was sitting beside one of my true-life heroines that have long been in heaven. Travelling by train on hard seats with dust flying in through the open windows, I saw the emerald-green rice paddies that Dr. Ida Scudder saw when she built her great hospital in the south of India. Or the land of missionary Amy Carmichael, or that of the great Indian Christian heroine, Pandita Ramabai. All of these courageous people rescued women and children.

Your story has some surprises. What surprised you in your research?

I was shocked that the abuse and neglect I researched is still a reality today. One day I visited a Hindu temple, and there lying on the stones was an extremely thin, elderly woman. She was left there to die. Often women—young and old—must feed themselves by selling their bodies. Children must do this too. So many poor children are sold by the thousands in the sex trade—a harsh reality.

In Shadowed in Silk, I touched on this issue. While I want to awaken readers to the plight of suffering people, I also wanted to write a book that will touch the reader’s life. So Abby’s love story is important to me as well—her growth in the face of loss.

The darkness is woven into the tapestry of an adventure with big loves stories. I like a book that teaches while it entertains me. And I believe in happy endings. 

And your next project…?

I’m currently writing Veiled at Midnight, the third and final book to my series to be released August 2014. Book two, Captured by Moonlight, is already available on most purchase sites in paperback and ebook. Each book in this series deals in some way with abuse toward women.

In Shadowed in Silk, it is Abby Fraser with an abusive English husband. In book two, Captured by Moonlight, it is the abuse of Hindu widows, and in book three, Veiled at Midnight, it is what happened to women during the terrible Partition of India and the creation of the new country, Pakistan, an all-Muslim state. 


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