Linda Lee Chaikin was born the youngest of ten children. Her father died when she was five months old, leaving her mother with eight young children and very little income.
Linda suffered with asthma throughout childhood which caused her to miss weeks of schooling each semester, spending much of her grade school years alone. Though her family lacked material things, her mother provided her with plenty of love and books to read. No matter how skimpy the budget, she always managed to scrape together enough change to buy her the Little Golden Books she loved so much. She would usually buy them at the drugstore on the way home from seeing the doctor. "I'd lie in bed and read and reread those little books, and my imagination would come alive. I especially recall the thrill of receiving a large book of Grimm's Fairy Tales one Christmas. These books became the friends that I didn't have the opportunity to make at school. Though I was behind in subjects like math that required sequential learning, I excelled in reading, writing, and spelling. One of my proudest moments was when the teacher moved me up to the highest reading circle in my class."
Out of these experiences Linda has seen Romans 8:28 fulfilled in her life as God has worked all things together to good. God has used some of her limitations to prepare her to be a storyteller.
During her teenage years, she began rewriting the endings to novels because she was dissatisfied with them. She also noticed that when she received essays and short story assignments her teachers would often read her work aloud to the class. This reinforced Linda's desire to write. At age fourteen she wrote her first full-length novel using a pen and a pad of paper. "I was actually like Jo in little women who always had ink stains on her fingers," she says. Later, one of her seven brothers bought her a typewriter. In those days Linda says she could write anywhere, even in a full room of people with the television blaring.
"I sent off my novel to a New York publishing house, convinced it would be another Gone With the Wind. What a heartbreak to receive the manuscript back with a rejection slip. (That novel, rewritten years later, was released under the title, Wednesday's Child in the Day to Remember series.)
Still, Linda's driving ambition was to become a published author, so she began writing a romance novel that contained things that could corrupt the minds of readers. One day at noon as she was in the middle of writing her secular romance, her mother turned on the radio, and the late Dr. J. Vernon. McGee's voice came across clearly. "What's keeping you, my friend, from yielding your entire life to the Lord. What are you holding onto that is keeping you from God? Is there anything in your life that means more to you than knowing Jesus Christ?
"I knew that the Lord was using Dr. McGee's verse by verse study of the book of Leviticus to speak directly to me. I knew exactly what my idol was--the ambition that I would not surrender because I felt that if I could not write, I could not be happy. After the radio program I paced the room for an hour with the half-finished manuscript in my arms. One would have thought it was a bar of gold, but in reality, it was wood, hay, and stubble.
At that time, Christian publishers were not publishing fiction, and most secular publishers did not accept stories with "overt" Christian themes. It seemed that you either wrote to feed the old nature, or you didn't write at all. I knew I was being asked to make a clean break, whatever the cost, even if it meant I'd never write and sell my work. I finally walked over to the trash can and dumped the whole manuscript into it. I knew that if I kept it in the closet I'd be tempted to go back to it once something went wrong in my life that brought discouragement.
I did not write again for many years. I studied the Bible and worked as Jr. High girl's youth sponsor in my church. At that time the mother of one of my Jr. High girls worked in the same company as my future husband, Steve. Since he attended the company lunch Bible studies, she spoke to him about the girl named Linda that worked with her daughter. When he came to my church singles group he entered the room about five minutes late and sat down right beside me. We were married six months later. I had the special privilege of teaching neighborhood Bible classes for teens and children in our home for about twelve years. I was content in God's will and forgot all about writing novels and didn't miss it at all."
One day Steve brought Linda some books by C. S. Lewis. She was deeply impressed with the clear demonstration of good and evil in his novels. "It was as though the Lord was showing me that there were ways to write fiction that would honor Him. Soon afterward Steve and I were accepted at Multnomah SchooI of the Bible in Portland, Oregon where we completed the one year Grad course. "Returning to California, Linda began writing (in longhand) a huge fantasy trilogy, and when Steve started reading it he became interested in the characters and would forget that it was his wife who wrote it. Impressed with his wife's talent, he bought her a new early model IBM PC (with no hard drive!) and a word processor program to encourage her. Since Linda liked history, she began writing historical fiction that dealt with the struggles and testings of Christians living in dark times. After receiving many rejections, her first book was published in 1990. 'I was thrilled that the Lord had given my writing back to me. Since then I've written over thirty books, so I've made up for lost time!
Linda believes that God has called her to write. 'Edifying the Bride of Christ is my goal. I prayerfully consider what He wants me to say in each book. I research my choice of historical backgrounds and include main characters that respond to solid Biblical principles in a mostly hostile world. I want the reader to take away something that goes beyond being exposed to an interesting story that sells. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11. God knows His good plans for each of us, and that should allow each of us to pillow our head at night with peace and contentment."
THE FOLLOWING IS THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS PAGE FROM WEBSITE
Q: What is Christian fiction? How do you define your genre of Christian Historical fiction? Is fiction even a
valid category for a Christian author? You have even written a historical fiction about the first Tyndale Bible. Is this appropriate?
A: I consider a Christian Historical Fiction novel as one in which the main character/s (regardless of the
choice of historical setting) live their lives according to Scriptural principles in a basically hostile world. I have seen some “Christian historical" novels that I think should not have been printed for one or more of the
a. They substituted speculation for known history, perhaps even contrary to history.
b. They did not study the attitudes of the period in which they placed their story.
c. They were not well acquainted with the Bible, and even substituted facts in the Bible with other ideas.
d. They attempted to justify unchristian morals, values, language.
I am cautions when I do a historical (especially a Biblical historical) to be accurate with the known history and characters, and for the fictional portion of my story—to be consistent and harmonious with the facts of the period. The goal is to edify the reader through the experiences of the fictional characters as they are caught up in the real history of the period. This is appropriate as long as the reader understands the distinction between historical and the fictional themes in the story.
For example: If you would like to understand the motivations of the different factions in the First Crusade, you will find my book “Swords and Scimitars” helpful. The secular school books are confusing and negative on Christianity over this topic, and most Christians are unable to explain it. If you would like to get an appreciation of the times in which the only English Bibles were the outlawed handwritten copies of John
Wycliffe’s work when William Tyndale suffered to have the New Testament reach the printing press, I think you will be inspired by Everlasting Flame/Recovery of the Lost Sword. If I have succeeded in my goal in such stories, the fictional characters will move the story along as you are confronted by the truths of the period.
Q: I've been looking for "Valiant Hearts" to purchase, but the only place I've found it was at Amazon - used - for $50.00! Can you tell me why this one book costs so much?
A: This is one of a few of the Earlier Books that I have run out of. I am surprised at how much they are asking on the used book market (presently $60.00, 12/03/05), so I am trying something new: I have purchased a used "Valiant Hearts" and a used "Jamaican Sunset" that am loaning out for a cost of only $4.00 (covers media mail postage and shipping) to any of my readers who are willing to send a deposit. The Deposit is $49.00 for "Valiant Hearts" and $32.00 for "Jamaican Sunset." All but $4.00 of the deposit will be returned when the book is mailed back in reasonable condition and time - the reader may hold the book up to 4 weeks before mailing back.
Q: Is there is a book 2 that follows, “For Whom the Stars Shine?”
A: The sequel is Spoils of Eden, with two more books following.
Q: I was wondering if there will be "Saturday's Child" book?
A: Thanks for asking about my “Day to Remember” series. It was decided to end the series at “Friday’s
Child”. I presented some ideas for a Saturday Book, but the publisher went instead for the set of two Western books, called “Desert Rose,” and “Desert Star” that are in the Historical Setting of Virginia City, Nevada. I’m confident you’ll like them also. These are from Harvest House Publishers. There is still hope the Saturday book may one day be published, but perhaps under a different title.
The following letter had many typical questions about my writing. I’ll take a shot at them:
1) Q: How do you describe scenery?
A: Read period authors who do it well. Read guide books about the areas you are interested in from
Chamber of Commerce, travel agencies, vacation guides are often descriptive. Look at photographs of the
area. Watch a sunset and put it into words, describe the surroundings, the wind on your face. Describe how
your location would look during the time you are studying about.
2) Q: How do you get so much information for your stories?
A: Facts must come from research. You've got to read the history before you can do a historical. You don’t
need to know everything, but any included facts must be correct, and you need an accurate sense of the
time, place, culture, and issues of the day where your story takes place.
3) Q: Where do you get your plots from?
A: They really do come from my imagination, but they develop as I read the period history and work with my characters.
4) Q: How do you choose names?
A: They mostly come from books for finding baby names, also telephone books. The Internet is helpful
because some sites even have sorting and searching for things like nationality.
5) Q: How do you come up with character dialogue?
A: It only comes naturally to me after I get to know my characters: their ambitions, concerns, fears, emotions, situations, historical setting, etc.
6) Q: Do you first write the ending, or the beginning of a story?
A: I do beginnings first - though they often need to be rewritten, shortened, or eliminated - especially since
they tend to have too much description before the start of the real story.
7) Q: How do you do it?
A: To write convincingly about Christian characters the author must know the scriptures and be in fellowship our great Savior. I also get my batteries recharged by reading other good writers. I can’t just produce continually.
Here is another recent Query:
Q: How do you narrow the range in which you study? Do you just take time and read it all? Also, any tips that you have about how you go about setting up your plot and how you focus in on a main theme.
A: After I decide which period of history I am interested in I start gathering the history books. I typically spend 6 weeks studying those texts before I start writing, but of course I am thinking about what I want to use as background for the story much of the time. It is true I study more history than can be used, but that is all part of deciding what would flow with my plot and be edifying to my readers. How much history I can use will also be affected by whether I will do only one book, or a series. The main theme often is based on the history and how the fictional characters will use their faith in Christ to decide the path they will walk among the often unique challenges of their particular time. The main fictional characters should progress in their faith. The fictional part of the plot should help the reader move through the history and be consistent with the truths and moods of the period I am writing about.
Thank you so very, very much Linda. I loved reading about your life and the many questions and answers you sent.
To my blog followers, Linda has graciously agreed to giveaway her newest book “The Spoils of Eden” to one of you. Here is my review of “The Spoils of Eden.”
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