Interview with C.J. Darlington

Curious by nature, questions abound as I read an intriguing story and setting such as in Bound by Guilt.  I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to ask the author, and to share her responses with you all.

C. J. Darlington

Where did the idea for Bound by Guilt come from?

I read a news article about a young man who’d been arrested in California for stealing rare books from various bookstores and re-selling them to other stores for a profit. I wondered what kind of story I could build around that idea. For many years I’d also wanted to write about someone who suddenly found themselves with nowhere to go and nothing but the clothes on their back. What would they do? How would they survive? These two ideas propelled the story.

Why did you choose to deal with guilt in your book?

When I started writing this novel I didn’t have a specific theme in mind. I had a few elements of the plot and several characters I wanted to include. But most of the story came about organically as I wrote. My working title actually wasn’t Bound by Guilt. What’s really cool is that when my editor suggested that title I stepped back and looked at the story and realized how perfect it fit. Even the first line, which was written long before we had the title, is about guilt! However, this story is also about forgiveness in a big way. How do you become free from guilt? By being forgiven. There are characters in the story who desperately need to forgive, and there are those who desperately need to receive forgiveness. The wonderful thing is, like the Scripture Gordon shares with Roxi, God can not only forgive our sins, but he can forgive the guilt of our sins too.

Do you form emotional attachments to your characters?

My characters are real people to me. I might see someone walking down the street and think, “Wow, she really looks like Roxi.” It can be hard to finish a book because it’s like saying good bye to close friends. I sometimes have to remind myself they’re imaginary!

Your stories focus on the world of antiquarian books. How did you research this?

I’ve been involved in the rare book industry since I was seventeen. My sister and I began book scouting for local stores, and within a year or so we started our own online bookstore selling directly to consumers. Much of what I write regarding rare books comes from personal experience, or something I’ve heard in my travels. I’ve been to book sales all across the country, from California to Connecticut, and I’ll tell you . . . book dealers are a colorful group!

During your travels to scout out books, what would be the most intriguing situation you’ve experienced?

What sticks out in my mind is the book that got away. Every book dealer has a story like this, and they’re painful to hear. Mine was when we found a first edition copy of The Velveteen Rabbit that even had its very rare dust jacket. Unfortunately, we didn’t know how rare it was. We listed that book at an online auction site for three hundred dollars, and we were thrilled when it sold. Years later I realized we could’ve gotten ten times that, or more.

How do you “get into the heads” of difficult characters such as  Irene in Bound by Guilt.

I actually find writing the bad guys easier in some ways than writing the good guys. But I almost never get them right the first time. In the rough draft of this story for example, Irene was very one-dimensional. We didn’t understand why she was doing what she was doing. I had to dig deep into her character and ask myself to really think about her motivations. Much of their character comes from asking myself what if questions. And letting my imagination run wild.

Your writing reveals a deep affection for and an understanding of animals. Have you always felt this?

I love animals. I grew up with dogs and cats, and at one time we had a pony and a miniature donkey too. Selah was actually inspired by my Whippet mix, Story, who we rescued. Did you catch how Selah’s story actually parallels Roxi’s? They were both thrown away and forgotten, had trust issues, and needed someone to love them. One of my favorite quotes is: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” That applies to all the animals we love.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope they’ll be challenged to look past outward appearances and see people, especially teens, the way God sees them. Love them for who they are with no strings attached. Love them even when they make mistakes. Love truly does cover over a multitude of wrongs.

If God gave an endorsement of this novel, what do you hope He would say?

My biggest hope would be that He would say, “I can use this book to stir people’s hearts.”

Will there be a sequel to Bound by Guilt?

I’m currently writing a third book that is closely connected to both Bound by Guilt and my first novel Thicker than Blood. We’ll see what happens!

Thanks C. J. for the interview.  For those who would like a sneak peak – click below for the book trailer and first chapter.  Enjoy – I know it will only make you want more!


Book Trailer for Bound by Guilt

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