Thursday, January 25, 2007
Interview with Cindy Thomson Part II
Welcome back to the second half of my interview with Cindy Thomson
Which character do you identify with most and why?
It would have to be Brigid because she is the main character. However, I was never separated from my mother. I doubt I could ever be as self-sacrificing as she was. That’s why I focused the story on her human side. We have all been separated from God by own doing at times, and I can relate to trying to do the right thing and then falling back into selfish habits. Also the quest for finding your roots and then discovering that there was something more important to find came out in this story.
Brigid is also sold in the U.K. Can you share the publishing story there?
Actually the publisher is in the UK and it’s distributed here in North America by Kregel. Monarch took a chance on me since they don’t normally publish fiction. Christian fiction does not sell well in Europe. Christians there don’t buy it. They buy mainstream fiction. So it hasn’t done well there, yet anyway. Monarch doesn’t publish fiction anymore. They do well with missionary type nonfiction books. They were great folks to work with, however. And Brigid is available in many different countries because of how Monarch (imprint of Lion-Hudson) distributes. Also they sold translation rights to a German publisher so it will be available in German!
What are some things that you find most fascinating about Irish history?
Definitely the story telling. During the time Brigid lived the Irish had no written language. But they did have a vast and colorful history handed down orally. Monks recorded this history in the centuries after her, and several ancient illuminated manuscripts still exist in museums, like the Book of Kells. The keeper of the stories, the seanachie, was and is held in high esteem. Sometimes it was the bards who told the stories in song with a harp. The people were in the stories. It was who they were and without the stories of the past they were lost. If you had a book, or you had the stories, you were a very important person. I think that’s why the ancient monks memorized all 150 Psalms.
You have two blogs devoted to history. In addition to Favorite Pastimes, you have a blog called Celtic Voices. Tell us about some of the thoughts you explore there.
Oh, it’s anything related to Celtic Spirituality (http:celticvoices.blogspot.com). The Celts were very spiritual people before Christianity took over. They believed that there was very little dividing us in this world with the next. They had a close connection to nature and were very open to learning about the God of Creation. Celtic Christians believe that God is in us because we were created in His image, and likewise we are to look for God in others and love them. Many people think of Celtic spirituality as being New Age, but the spiritual side of the faith speaks to me and to many Christians. The name Celtic Voices comes from St. Patrick. He was kidnapped from his home in Wales (or somewhere on the coast of Britain) and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was a teenager. He connected to God during his lonely days working as a shepherd. He escaped and returned home, received training as a bishop, and then heard the Voice of Irish speaking to him, begging him to return to them. He did and was one of the fathers of our faith.
Why the interest in all things Celtic?
It’s my heritage. There is a saying: There are the Irish, and then all those who wish they were Irish.
From Brigid of Ireland to the story of baseball legend, Mordecai Brown. That seems like such a big departure. How did you come to write this?
Again, it’s a history story. Mordecai Brown, a Hall of Fame pitcher from the Cubs glory days (yes, they had glory days in the early part of the 20th century!) is my grandfather’s first cousin. Everyone has more than one interest, right? I’m a huge baseball fan. Got it from my mother (yes, my mother, again! Have to give the Irish connection to my dad since that’s the side of the family I have researched.) My mother is the Brown. We didn’t know we were related to Three Finger Brown (check out the site http:www.threefinger.com) until my cousin, Scott Brown, discovered the connection. Scott and I co-authored the book and Scott has started a non profit foundation in Mordecai’s memory: http://www.mordecaibrown.org.
What are some interesting facts about this story?
Do you have all day? Hmm, he pitched with much success with a deformed hand. He endured death threats to beat the New York Giants in a one game play-off for the National League Championship in 1908. I have a children’s historical fiction story based on him coming out in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine in March. There is so much more to tell. I hope people will read the book!
Tell us about some of your other writing projects.
Other than magazine writing, which I continue to do, I’m working on two new novels. One, Brendan the Navigator, is based on the life of St. Brendan, another ancient Irish saint. Some believe he actually sailed to North America in the 6th century! The other is a contemporary, one in which a young woman learns her family history going back to ancient Ireland and how secrets have affected the generations since. This information sheds light on her own life.
Any parting words to history fans or historical writers?
Continue to support historical fiction if you love it. We are hearing in the Christian market that publishers aren’t open to new authors. If you disagree and want to read works by new historical fiction writers, leave reviews, let people hear your voice. And if you’re an author, congratulations on taking on a genre that is hard to write and research but tremendously rewarding. Remember that we are called to tell the stories of the wonderful things God has done (Exodus 10:2).
Thanks so much Cindy! It's been great blogging with you and I wish you much succes with your books as well as Favorite Pastimes.
Join me tomorrow for a quick review of Brigid of Ireland as author Sharon Hinck's fourteen year old daughter shares with us how this book impacted her life.
Posted by Beth Goddard at 11:04 PM