READ: Firm Foundations, Fulfilled Dreams: An Interview with Author C.J. Darlington (Part I)
Homeschooling Today magazine recently published my interview with homeschooled author C.J. Darlington. I’ll share it with you in four parts over the next four “Read” and “Write” blog days. In spite of its homeschool slant, I believe non-homeschoolers will be equally blessed to read about this gifted young writer who’s also become my friend. Enjoy!
Keep the foundations strong.Our family watched this principle come to life when faulty construction forced a neighbor to vacate her home. Within two years of its construction, huge cracks appeared in the floor. An improperly laid foundation threatened the home’s integrity and its owner’s safety. Today, the house sits abandoned—beautiful on the outside, hopelessly flawed within.
Homes that endure time and testing provide encouragement to keep the foundations strong. In the same way, we find hope when we look at longtime homeschool families and the fruit of their labor. Often, this fruit comes in the form of people: students who succeed, parents who persevere, and lives that are changed.
As a writer and veteran homeschooler, I took particular delight in the news that homeschooled writer C.J. Darlington had won the prestigious 2008 Operation First Novel Award from the Christian Writers Guild. C.J.’s prize, presented by CWG owner and bestselling author Jerry Jenkins, included $20,000 and a contract with Tyndale House for her novel Thicker than Blood. Homeschooled throughout her school years, C.J.’s story offers unique encouragement to parents and students alike.
Although Thicker than Blood releases in January, C.J. and her identical twin sister, Tracy, have already earned a strong reputation in the world of Christian publishing and entertainment. In 2006, they began www.titletrakk.com to promote Christian books, music, and other media. The Darlington family also runs an online store dedicated to the same type of book search featured in Thicker than Blood. But I’ll let C.J. tell that story herself.
Marti Pieper: Can you tell us about your family?
C.J.: The cool thing about being a twin is that I had an instant fellow classmate. We were in the same grade with similar interests, which made homeschooling a lot more fun. It was also easier for Mom since she only had to teach one grade level. But although Mom did most of the teaching, our dad taught us science and took us on most of the field trips. I’m not sure who had more fun, Dad or us.
M.P.: Please describe your interest in antique books and explain how that developed into a business.
C.J.: For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read and visit the library or bookstores. At age seventeen, Tracy and I became book scouts who bought used books and resold them to retailers. As the Internet dawned, we began our own online bookstore. Eventually, the little business started by two ambitious teenagers grew to employ our entire family. And I was able to incorporate much of what I learned about the book business in Thicker than Blood. A first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls plays an important role in the story.
M.P.: Your first novel releases this month. How will it interest homeschoolers in particular?
C.J.: The fact that I started writing the book as a fifteen-year-old homeschooler will encourage homeschoolers of all ages to dream big. God puts dreams in our young hearts for a reason. Those early ideas often reveal our future calling.
Homeschoolers will also appreciate the fact that the story centers around redemption. It clearly presents the gospel and teaches that no one is ever too far gone for God. It also reveals the struggles we face in reaching out to our unsaved friends and loved ones. How do we show the love of God without hitting people over the head with our Bibles?
Originally published in Homeschooling Today® magazine, January/February 2010, used by permission. All rights reserved, www.homeschooltoday.com.