Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Author Christine Lindsay: Writing Romance in British Colonial India




This week we’re glad to host Christine Lindsay as our spotlight author. Christine was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that when she was a baby she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip (Queen Elizabeth’s husband). Christine’s great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the infamous Titanic. Stories of Christine’s ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the British Raj.


Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Christine! Let’s start by letting you tell us about your road to publication.
I started writing around 2001, but it wasn’t until 2009 when I won the Gold in the ACFW Genesis for my first novel Shadowed in Silk, which was called Unveiled at the time, that things really started happening. That’s when I met my publisher WhiteFire, and we’ve had a wonderful relationship ever since. WhiteFire likes to publish novels of high quality that deal with deep themes. They weren’t afraid of my unusual setting of India, and the first book did so well that I simply had to make it a trilogy. Both Shadowed in Silk and Book 2 Captured by Moonlight won various literary acclaim, and Veiled at Midnight is the explosive and passionate finale.  

Since then I’ve also been picked up by Pelican Book Group with my first strictly romance novella Londonderry Dreaming, and soon-to-be released Sofi’s Bridge, a historical romance.

You can read the first chapters of all my books on my website http://www.christinelindsay.com


How long have you been writing historical fiction? What drew you to the genre?
I write what I enjoy reading, which are novels that transport me to somewhere exotic and exciting. Historicals often fit this bill. Plus the fact I grew up on true-life stories about my ancestors. During WW2 my great Uncle Eddy served in the British Cavalry under Mountbatten (Queen Elizabeth’s cousin), the last British viceroy to Colonial India. That era was so fascinating, so exciting, so colorful, I simply had to share it with the American audience. I’ve continued with historicals in an American setting with the soon-to-be-released Sofi’s Bridge.


Your trilogy, Twilight of the British Raj, is a bit unusual because of its setting in India. Share with our readers your personal connection and why you set the books there.
As well as my great uncle, my great-great grandfather was also a British soldier serving in India in the late 1800’s. The flamboyancy and hardship of their life as British soldiers in such an exotic place intrigued me. And my very favorite novels are those written by the blockbuster novelist MM Kaye with her Far Pavilions set in India. Such romance and history combined made me want to write something similar but from a Christian point of view.


Veiled at Midnight is the final book of the trilogy. Congratulations on its release! Tell us about the storyline.

The main male character in Veiled at Midnight is the Captain Cam Fraser, the grown son of Abby Fraser, my main character from Shadowed in Silk. Growing up in India, Cam has always felt as though India was his home even though he is of British and American parents. He is also in love with a beautiful Indian girl—Dassah—whom he has known since he was a boy.  

But Cam is now Aide-de-camp to Lord Louis Mountbatten at the time of the India Partition, as India is being torn in two to create the new country of Pakistan. Cam in his high position in the British military can’t marry a poor Indian girl. It just isn’t done.

Veiled at Midnight is ultimately a love story, as Cam and Dassah are torn apart at the same time as India. Not only are they being separated by externally circumstances, but also because of Cam’s addiction to alcohol, the demon he inherited from his natural father (in Book 1).

This all sounds really heavy, but there is also a lot of humor in my books as well as high stakes, passion and trauma. Much of the humor comes from the subplot of Cam’s sister Miriam.


Now please introduce us to your main characters. What’s your favorite thing about each of them?
Captain Cam Fraser: Cam is such a true hero even when he’s struggling with alcoholism. Here’s a snippet of a scene that shows Cam’s true heart.

“Dassah….” Cam reached for her, glad of the sudden fall of Indian night, its darkness cloaking them from prying eyes. His hands encased her waist, and he felt the delicacy of her ribcage. “Dassah, I love you as I could never love another woman.”
“But I am Indian. I am dark-skinned.”
He laughed. “I’d say you’re more the color of a creamed tea. But even if you were ebony, I’ll thank you very much not to insult me with idiotic racial prejudice.” He lifted the back of her hand to his lips. “Is the night sky that God created any less beautiful in its darkness than the lightness of morning?”

Dassah: In Indian and British Colonial society Dassah is just a poor Indian girl of no importance, but Dassah learns to stand up for herself with the power of God. Here’s a snippet.  

Cam would be a good father to their son, but Dassah could not give up her baby even to him. That would tear her heart that she would never recover. It had to be her who taught little Cameron to read Wind in the Willows and the works of Kipling, the poetry of Tagore. It had to be her who taught her baby to laugh and play…and become a man. With all that was within her—the Spirit of the Risen Christ—she would teach her son about Yeshu, even if it meant committing the contradictory act of marrying a Muslim to protect them, and living in Pakistan.

Miriam: Cam’s sister Miriam also seems to be a contradiction—she resembles the beautiful American film star Carole Lombard, but is a Theology professor at the true-life Kinniard College for Indian women. Here’s a snippet of a scene that portrays Miriam’s dilemma.

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland stood before her, a man in his forties, yet he stood there like a gauche boy straight out of military school. He’d been through the war, probably dallied with any number of women—Miriam just knew that in her bones—and yet he wanted to marry her. And all she wanted right now—prim theological professor—was to get back into his arms and let him kiss her senseless. But marriage?


Those are great sneak peeks! Are there common threads through the trilogy’s storyline, or will readers meet some of the same characters in the different stories? Whichever case it is, how did writing the series that way make things easier or pose more of a challenge?
Most of the characters in all three books came together in the first book Shadowed in Silk. Having the series evolve deeper and fuller was easier for me to write, because the characters became so real. Cam, as a little boy in Book 1, is a grown man in Book 3, and I understood the heartache from his childhood with an alcoholic and neglectful father. The love of Cam’s life—Dassah—was born in Book 1, mentioned again in Book 2, but her story flowers in Book 3.


What is the most interesting thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your projects?
Visitors, come back tomorrow for Christine’s answer to this and other questions – you won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, you can enter for your chance to win a copy of Veiled at Midnight! Either click our Rafflecopter link below, or answer this question from Christine in the comments:

Do you like settings that take you away from the humdrum, to something exotic that is unlike anything you have ever experienced? Why or why not?


a Rafflecopter giveaway


See you tomorrow!
Leigh

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love what I have read on your answers. Thanks for a chance to win. kamundsen44@yahoo.com Kim

traveler said...

I am captivated with the wonderful feature, great giveaway and fascinating post. I love to be transported to exotic realms, lands and places since they allow me to travel there within an enthralling novel. Travel is an experience that opens up such vistas and provides me with happiness and enjoyment. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Jennifer Sauer said...

As an avid reader, I like new, exotic settings, because they're different. All of my favorite historical fiction books are set in places and times I didn't really understand existed until I read those books. There are so many amazing points in history and the cultures of the world today, but authors tend to limit themselves to the same ones over and over again because they're safe and they know people like them.

I really like it when an author offers me something fresh because all of a sudden they're not only opening a new world for me, but unlike a fantasy, it's a real world. It teaches me something, without being a history book. It makes the time and the setting and the culture come alive, it makes it real.

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