As a teenager Christine’s parents limited her to reading two books a day. She never expected to be an author but if she had thought about such a thing she’d have wanted to emulate her favourite authors and write, ‘life impacting’ books. She started by writing non-fiction. The second book, ‘Telling the Gospel Through Story’ was voted 2013 Outreach Magazine’s Resource of the Year in Evangelism. As a Bible storyteller, Christine spends her days telling stories or training others. She’s still in awe of the power of stories and it was listener responses that pushed her to jump into fiction. Her life goal is ‘making disciples one story at a time’. Christine continues to hunt for life changing books and keeps sane by cycling, swimming, birdwatching and hiking.
Grace Across the Miles is the sixth and final book in a series of contemporary Australian Christian novels. Since they’re Australian, you can expect there to be words and spelling that are different to those used elsewhere. This series started as a standalone book and I’m grateful to God that he didn’t overwhelm me with the thought of more than one book. It was hard work switching from writing non-fiction to fiction and my first book took four and a half years to write and edit. Subsequent books have taken six to eight weeks to write and then six months for the editing process.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The amount of time for research is different for every book. I have just started writing a historical series set in Old Testament times. That will require far more research than my first set of contemporary stories.
With the contemporaries I researched places (I looked at maps, calculated travel routes and times, looked at photos of the area …). I would love to travel to all the places I write about but that would require a generous benefactor.
For Grace Across the Miles, I did a lot of research about adoption in Australia in the 1960s. I quickly discovered that there was a key date (1967) when adoption laws significantly changed. My story revolved around that historical situation and included many real details from eye witness accounts of the times from all parties involved.
Each book in the series has also included specialty topics that have needed research but which also need to be checked by someone who knows about that particular area. For the various books in series I’ve looked at carpentry, quilting, kayaking, grafting of fruit trees, Down Syndrome, aspects of China’s history … research is probably my favourite part of the process as I love learning new things.
How do you select the names of your characters?
My process for naming characters is constantly evolving. The key thing is not to reuse names. One of the things I enjoy is putting an age and description of a character and asking those in my private Facebook group to suggest names. Mostly those names are in honour of someone who died. I have also used names of friends as a way to thank them (I ask permission first). Many of my characters come from different racial backgrounds as I wanted to show the backgrounds of the people who make up the category of ‘Australian’. It has been fun to name Indian, Chinese, South African, Vietnamese … characters. The name has to not only fit the background but also be reasonably easy for readers to pronounce. The historic names have been harder as we might not know many Philistine, Amorite … names.
More about Grace Across the Miles:
How can you belong when you don’t know who you are?
Gina Reid is surrounded by people getting married or having babies. She’s under pressure to settle down but how can she do that when she doesn’t even know where she came from? Since the startling revelation that she was adopted, it’s felt like there is something missing. Fear has kept her from searching for her biological parents.
What if learning the truth is worse than not knowing?
But now an overheard comment has propelled her into action. Can Gina find out who she truly is? Or will she discover that some secrets are best left undisturbed?
Grace Across the Miles is a soul-stirring contemporary Christian novel. Book 6 in the Grace series.
If you like compelling Christian fiction, relatable characters, and real emotion, then you’ll love this inspiring series.
Nepean River, Sydney
“That’s impossible!” Gina’s voice rose as she stared at her father. “Totally impossible.”
Her dad moved over on the grassy hillock, where they were watching the Head of the River rowing championships, and put his arm around her.
Gina shook off his embrace. “How can I be adopted? All those photos in my album!” Including photos of herself as a newborn clearly labelled with the date she’d always celebrated as her birthday.
“We took you home three days after you were born,” he said.
So was the date on the photos her real birth date or the date she went home from hospital? Had she been celebrating the wrong birthday all these years? She shivered and pulled her knees up towards her chest.
Was it only this morning that she had been bubbling with excitement to go and watch her brother Bruce compete in the championships? Rowing was a family sport. Dad had missed out on the Commonwealth Games due to illness, but he had always dreamed that one of his sons might make it. To give the boys the greatest possible chance they’d been sent to board at a top private school. It cost a fortune, but Bruce’s First VIIIs and IVs were the favourites for this year.
She jerked her chin towards the boats. “What about Bruce? And Grant?”
“No, they’re not adopted.”
Her father touched her shoulder and she willed herself not to push him away again. He was the one family member she was closest to.
“We love you just as much as your brothers.”
Her eyes teared up. He might love her as much, but she couldn’t say the same about her mother. Not that her mother was exactly a model of motherliness to Grant and Bruce either. They’d all been tiptoeing around her for years, anxious not to tip her over some unseen edge.
Gina took a deep breath and deliberately relaxed her tense shoulders. “I had no idea …” Her voice shook. “We all seem to fit together. I even look like you.”
“I love it when people say you look like me,” her father said. “You’ve made me proud every day of your life. We didn’t think we’d ever have children, and then you came along.”
Up until that moment, she’d never suspected she didn’t belong. Her chest ached as though the wind had been knocked out of her. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“It was tricky,” he said. “I wanted to tell you when you were eighteen, but your mother objected.”
So he’d backed down. Protecting mother had become the family’s preoccupation. None of them wanted to ever again experience years like those when Gina was in junior high school. Back then, she’d had to help her father do all the housework because her mother had retreated into her own world. Gina had buckled down and carried far more of a load than any teenager should have had to. Her cheeks flushed with past embarrassment. She had never mentioned her mother in case people asked questions. Sometimes her mother had been almost normal, just kind of spaced out. Yet other times, she’d been downright peculiar. The problem was that Gina had never known at breakfast whether the day was going to be good or bad, and things often deteriorated rapidly. It had become easier to avoid inviting friends around altogether.
And if Gina hadn’t made that casual comment today about her disappointment with her own rowing form compared to her brothers, perhaps her father wouldn’t have said anything. When had he intended telling her she was adopted? When she was about to get married? When she’d had a baby? When Mum died?
In the rational part of her brain, she understood there were problems with revealing the news at any time. But right now, she wasn’t feeling logical. Right now, she was angry he’d left telling her until now. And she was disappointed that he had put her mother’s needs ahead of hers. As usual.
The rowers were now approaching the finish line. Gina couldn’t see who was in front, but it looked like a tight race. She got to her feet. Other groups scrambled up too, and tension crackled through the air. Would the favourites win, or would something unforeseen happen? Gina’s father joined her, and they watched in growing anticipation as Bruce’s team came level with where they were standing. It was a close contest between three crews. Less than a minute later, Bruce’s team crossed the line first and the elation of his win overlaid the churning in her gut.
“I know this discussion isn’t over,” her father said, setting off towards the finish line, “but let’s go and congratulate Bruce.”
Gina scurried after him.
She still had so many questions, but whether he’d answer them was the big unknown.
Book 1 – https://books2read.com/GraceinStrangeDisguise
Book 6 – https://books2read.com/GraceAcrosstheMiles (can be read as a standalone but the series is best read from book 1)
The complete collection (money saving option): https://books2read.com/CompleteGraceCollection1-6
2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Christine Dillon”
I just love “finding” new authors to read!
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