Q&A: C.J. Darlington (Ties that Bind)
Where did the idea for your new novel Ties that Bind come from?
For a long time I was intrigued with the idea of writing about someone just released from prison. What sort of difficulties would they face? I began to ask myself “what-if” questions, and my main character Brynn Taylor was born.
I often write about characters who don’t know Christ, but in Ties that Bind I wanted to write about someone who had known the Lord at one point in her life but drifted away from her childhood faith. Through Brynn’s journey, I hope to show that this person is also deeply loved by God. He desires for his children, no matter how far they’ve traveled away from Him, to come back into His arms.
You often feature rare first edition books in your novels. Why is this?
I’ve had great fun with this. For the past fifteen years I’ve been involved in the antiquarian book world, and I love studying the points that make a first edition valuable. In Ties that Bind a first edition of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility plays a very important role in the story. Published in 1811, it came out in three volumes, and in the story a father gives one volume to each of his daughters. Years later, the youngest daughter, Brynn, is on a quest to find her father again . . . only to discover she has two sisters who have no idea she exists.
Is the town where you set Ties that Bind real or fictional?
Elk Valley, Colorado is situated roughly where the real town of La Veta, Colorado currently resides. However, Elk Valley is a little bigger, and The Perfect Blend coffee shop, The Book Corral, and Triple Cross ranch are all fictional. Wish they weren’t! I’d love to visit Elk Valley. All of the ranching and horse details in the novel are based on real life.
Do readers have to read your books in order?
Not at all. While Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind do follow each other consecutively and have recurring characters, they can all be read individually in any order. I’m always careful about that.
Why don’t you include much romance in your stories?
I really enjoy writing about familial love and the bond between good friends. I think those type of relationships are sometimes neglected in Christian fiction, and they’re just as important!
What theme runs through all your books?
That no one is ever too far gone for God to reach. Whether you’re a chain-smoking alcoholic searching for love in all the wrong places (Thicker than Blood), a heart-broken teen on the run (Bound by Guilt), or a just-released former drug addict like Brynn in Ties that Bind, I want to show that God’s love and forgiveness is available to all.
You often write about animals in your stories, too. Why is that?
I believe God put animals in our lives to bring richness, not to mention lots of laughs. I couldn’t imagine not having pets! I have several dogs, an old cat named Cubby, and a beautiful paint horse named Sky, all who enrich my life immeasurably. It’s just natural for me to include animals in my novels. Ties that Bind actually has an interesting relationship between a girl and a horse that I think readers will enjoy.