by C.J. Darlington
Terri Blackstock Interview
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biggest misconception [about addiction] is that it only happens to people
from dysfunctional, unbelieving homes."
-- Terri Blackstock
Terri Blackstock (www.terriblackstock.com) has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention and Vicious Cycle, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.
Terri, if it’s not too personal, could you share with us the experience you faced that compelled you to write about drug addiction?
Several years ago I learned that my daughter, who was in her twenties, had a severe drug addiction. I did what most parents would do and set out to find help for her. Along the way, I learned a lot of things about addiction and treatment, and I met a lot of other parents and family members who were experiencing the same heartbreak. I finally decided to write about it, with my daughter’s blessing, in hopes that I could give a bit of hope and guidance to others dealing with this.
Many authors would shy from writing about something so personal, but you have embraced it. Why?
Well, at first I told my publisher I would write the series, but that I didn’t want to make my personal story part of the promotion for the book. It was intensely personal, and my daughter was still fragile. But as the launch date approached, I decided that God had put me on this journey for a reason, and that was so that I could comfort others “with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3). My daughter was just coming out of a year of treatment, and she encouraged me to do it. I think sometimes it’s helpful for people to know that people who seem to have it all together are really experiencing the things they’re experiencing. That has borne out. My book signings for the Intervention Series have been like counseling sessions. People come with tears in their eyes and tell me the stories of how their lives have been impacted by a family member who’s bent on self-destruction.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about addiction?
The biggest misconception is that it only happens to people from dysfunctional, unbelieving homes. The reality is that it also happens to those of us who’ve raised our kids in Christian homes, who’ve never had alcohol or drugs in our homes, who’ve done our best to raise up our children in the way that they should go. My daughter never did drugs until she was away at college (a Christian college), and was an adult. Outside influences and her own personal choices led her down the wrong path, despite what I’d spent years teaching her.
In Downfall we get to see the story through Emily, Lance, Barbara and Kent once more. These characters have become very real to readers, and I’m sure to you as an author. Who’s your favorite and why?
I guess Barbara, the mother, is the one I most relate to, because I poured so much of myself into her. I know what it’s like to be in her shoes. In the first book, Intervention, Barbara sends her daughter Emily off to treatment with an interventionist she hired, but when they reach their destination, the interventionist is murdered and Emily vanishes. Though we never had a murder, of course, I had set up two interventions for my daughter, and I hired an interventionist and sent her off to treatment with her. So that was right out of our lives. The second book, Vicious Cycle, deals with another character with a Crystal Meth addiction, and Emily’s struggles after getting out of treatment. Again, I knew how Barbara felt as Emily came home. How she worried that she might relapse, that everything might start up again. And the friend Emily and Lance are trying to help might pull them both back into the drug culture. Barbara lives in fear of that happening.
In Downfall, things have settled down and seem to be on the upswing for Barbara and her family, until someone sets a bomb under Emily’s car. Barbara thinks Emily has drifted back into the drug culture and that all the chaos is beginning again. Emily has a lot to prove in this book as she tries to find the real protagonist and prove that she isn’t living in deception. I know Barbara’s paranoia about her daughter and the feeling that any minute the other shoe is going to drop. When you have loved ones with addictions, you can never be completely sure that it’s all behind you.
If you can only convey one thing to readers of Downfall what would it be?
That Christ forgives and redeems, and that He gives addicts the power to change, and family members the power to go on. He truly does help us carry our burdens. And sometimes He uses our suffering in powerful ways that help many others.
How have you seen yourself develop as a writer over the years? For instance, how has your writing changed since say your Suncoast Chronicles days to now writing the Intervention series?
I try to improve my
craft with every book, so I hope my style has matured. I think the emotional
I’ve experienced for the last decade has
deepened my writing. I feel more of an urgency to help others with my writing,
and I’ve dug much deeper into myself.
If you could describe your writing style in a sentence, how would you describe it?
My readers tell me that they like the fact that my books are fast-paced and keep them up all night.
What’s your favorite part about being a writer?
I love hearing from readers whose lives are impacted by my books. That’s an awesome and humbling feeling.
Will there be any more books in the Intervention series?
Downfall will be the
third and final book in this series. Already, I’ve
started working on a new series that I think my readers will enjoy. I don’t
have a title yet, but I’m deep into that and will keep my readers
apprised as we set a launch date for that first book.
Portions of this interview first appeared as an article in the Feb/March 2012 issue of FamilyFiction Edge Digital Magazine.
C.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.