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Bonnie Calhoun

The Advocate

Bonnie Calhoun Interview

by C.J. Darlington

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"I love to entertain. I have to tell the stories as fiction because if I told them as non-fiction… well to coin one of my favorite phrases, 'First there’d be the oohs and the auhs, and then there’d be the running and screaming.'" --Bonnie Calhoun

Bonnie Calhoun is the Owner/Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (CFBA) where she has 250+ book reviewer blogs that twice weekly do blog tours for the latest in Christian fiction. She is also the Owner/Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine (CFOM), a three-year-old 50+ page Ezine with columns and articles by the best and brightest authors and professionals in Christian fiction. Bonnie serves as the President of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), and Northeast Zone Director of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

What first drew you to writing fiction?

Entertainment! I love to entertain. I have to tell the stories as fiction because if I told them as non-fiction… well to coin one of my favorite phrases, “First there’d be the oohs and the auhs, and then there’d be the running and screaming.

Your bio is as interesting as your characters! With so many life experiences to draw from, what made you decide to write Cooking the Books, and when did this particular story idea first germinate in you?

My brain is like my office…chaotic and stuffed to the hilt with books and ideas, so it’s kinda hard to pinpoint when I thought of this particular fiasco…er, uh storyline. For Sloane I wanted her to be a sustainable character that I could give multiple adventures, so she has a full page storyboard of concepts for future books. And then again…you know writers…sometimes our characters take over and move us in a totally unthought of direction.

I love that you include rare books in this story! Share with us why antique books, and why this one.

Because this one is the germination of another adventure I’m planning for Sloane into the secrets of the stars. The Bible tells us in Amos 5:8, “He made the Pleiades and Orion.” And in Job 9:9 it says, “He made the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades. And this particular book lends itself to that equation. LOL…if I told you more, I’d have to kill you :)

What did your journey to publication look like? I know you’ve had a few hurdles along the way…

Hurdles?? Nah…not even close to the things some people experience in this industry. My journey began in 2006 when I started blogging about books with T.L. Hines, and apparently God had this natural progression in mind, and I wasn’t even paying attention. I woke up one day…here. And it’s sorta like…”Hey Lord, this is pretty cool. But if you’d have told me ahead of time, I’d have lost some weight and bought a new outfit.”

Cooking the BooksYou’ve described Sloane Templeton as a cleaner version of Stephanie Plum. Is that how you originally pictured her, or did she develop as you wrote the story?

I already had Sloane Templeton in mind…*blush*…she’s a younger, thinner version of what I’d like to be. But when I started reading Stephanie Plum, it occurred to me that she had the same kind of energy…although slightly bawdy…and sometimes x-rated. So it was easy to find the similarities in characters…except Sloane is going to have way more fun because my mind is extremely more warped than Janet Evanovich’s *snort-giggle*

I’m really intrigued that you’re a seamstress by day. How did you get started in the business, and how do you think it impacts your writing (if it does)?

I’ve been a seamstress, or a sewer if you will call it, since I was seven years old. My mother was a master pattern maker for all the factories back home in Scranton, Pa at the time. It does actually impact my writing because I usually write my first drafts at my store while sewing. I’ve sewed my whole life so I don’t need to think when I sew, so I’m concentrating on the current chapter. When I start to forget what I’m thinking up for the character, I stop sewing, type it all in…and then go back to sewing!

True or false: writing is like sewing. Why or why not?

True! I’m always taking a seam ripper to some chapter or passage :)

As a gal who’s had some firearms experience, what was your most intriguing/embarrassing/memorable moment dealing with guns?

Yikes! I can NOT tell you that one *snort-giggle*…he may still be looking for me :)

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about law enforcement?

That cops are evil. Yes there is always a bad apple in the bunch but they are trying to do a job of protecting us FROM the evil in the world. They all become jaded sooner or later, and compassion for perps is hard to come by after you’ve heard ever story in the book…twenty million times. Like... I didn’t stab him…he ran around the corner and ran into my knife… 47 times.

Your novels aren’t necessarily “Christian fiction” per se, but they feature characters who are Christians. What are your thoughts on the whole discussion on the definition of Christian fiction?

Well in this day and age it’s pretty much synonymous with no bad language or sex, because other than that we have finally come to the conclusion that we are living in a fallen world and bad things happen to good people. We have to be able to show real life, or the average Christian won’t be able to identify with our books. For the majority of Christians, their everyday life is not filled with quoting Bible verses, especially outside of church. So sometime subtle messages are better when you are trying to reach a fallen world. After all, the Book of Ester never mentions God, yet we can see God all over the place :)

So many of your characters are off the wall quirky! Are they based on real people or your crazy imagination? :)

ROFLOL…my imagination is NOT that good. Well let me categorize that…my imagination is…oh, whom I trying to kid…yes my mind is that crazy. But I’ve got enough crazy friends that I can actually blame it on them and seem like I’m the sane one.

How has owning and operating CFBA and CFOM impacted your own writing?

Hmmm…It has given me access to a ton of literature and people who love our industry, and that love and constant buzz creates a synergy of its own that you just get drawn into. So I would say that both organizations have supplied me with the support structure of people that a writer needs to keep them going when the road gets tough.

What is your goal as a novelist?

ROFLOL…another easy one! To entertain people, and to impact others lives by showing them that they don’t live in this crazy ‘I don’t believe that just happened to me’ world alone.

Describe yourself in three words:

Me, myself, and I….there are three of us in here arguing to get out at any given time, so while two of us are asleep, the other one can get some work done. Shoot! I just told you my operational secret. Now I’ll have to get you my pretty *cackle, cackle* and your li’l dog too.

You’re in line at Starbucks, what are you ordering?

Very Berry coffeecake. Yeah, yeah… I know it’s a coffee place. (I’ve tasted better.) :)

Can we expect another Sloane Templeton story, and what else is cooking in your brain?

You can expect as many as Abingdon will allow me to write. I have a lot. I’m presently working on one of Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series books titled Pieces of the Heart. It is actually the backstory of Sloane’s family during WWII. Sloane is a third-generation battered woman, and this is how it starts.

Anything else you’d like to say?

May the Lord bless and keep you all, surrounding you with a legion of angels!

Portions of this interview first appeared as an article in the Aug/Sept 2012 issue of FamilyFiction Digital Magazine.

C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.