Today I have the good fortune of chatting with my friend, Cynthia Ruchti, president of American Christian Fiction Writers, 2,000 member strong group of authors, editors, and agents who work collectively
to produce inspirational fiction. She is also
the author of They Almost Always Come Home, a delightful novel about a marriage that needed a near-fatal accident to be revived from the brink.
In addition to writing, Cynthia is also the producer for a radio show, Heartbeat of the Home
In 2007, she was the recipient of the ACFW Member Service Award. In 2008, Cynthia won second place for Women’s Fiction in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Contest. Cynthia is the editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. Cynthia spends her days diving into words, worship, and wonder and celebrating 37 years of marriage, three grown children, and five exceptional grandchildren.
1) Even though the economy is in the tank and people are writing the demise of the publishing industry almost daily, Christian fiction is more popular than ever. Why is that?
I’m sure there are as many opinions on that topic as there are books on my to-be-read pile. Storytelling has always been the most popular means of communicating and connecting people, no matter what the culture. I think Americans experienced a period of time when we took ourselves and technology so seriously that we too often abdicated the joy of thinking, wondering, considering, imagining. But the human heart listens best when something is presented in story form and it loses its elasticity if it isn’t fed a story from time to time. Readers find hope hidden in the pages of Christian fiction. The characters’ internal struggles assure readers they’re not alone. Imagination is given the reins again and the freedom to gallop.
2) I hear people dis Christian fiction a lot, but I wonder if they read it, because I’m reading some amazing stuff by a wide variety of authors. What do you say to that?
One of my answers will sound very philosophical, but I believe we’re living in an era when xdissing” or ranting about something is seen as every person’s right. It feeds some carnal urge when people find something to look down on. Sometimes Christian fiction is the target, but I wholeheartedly agree that those who complain the loudest about it are usually the ones least familiar with what’s being produced today for the Christian fiction market. The last few years have seen the publishing world tackle some tangled subjects and authors are hard at work creating meaningful, significant, well-written novels that engage a wide range of reader tastes–entertainment, inspiration, healing, insight…
3) I want to talk about your book, They Almost Always Come Home. I read it while I was out of town and I loved the book. The writing is so tight and it really walks the reader through a marital struggle. What inspired you to write this book?
In my role as writer/producer for The Heartbeat of the Home radio broadcast, and as a mom, grammie, friend, sister, and member of a close-knit church community, I’ve heard stories of marriages that fell apart and those that stayed glued no matter what crisis they encountered. I’ve had conversations with women who have a hard time liking the man they love, whether for a day, a season, or a lifetime.
In 1999, my husband almost left me. He didn’t intend to, but he almost died in the Canadian wilderness that drew him to many a canoe adventure over the years. He was rescued in time. But after we both recovered from the trauma, my writer brain began to wonder what a woman might do if her husband didn’t return at all. And what if she wasn’t sure she wanted him to? What would make her heart so full of pain that she couldn’t stomach the thought of his returning, but couldn’t bear the idea that he might? What if she had no answers and felt as lost as she feared he might be? Those what ifs led to They Almost Always Come Home. I wrote a good deal of the book from imagination, but had to dig deep to write the rest of it authentically and in a way I hoped readers would find both comforting and challenging.
4) Every published author goes through a long journey before they get published. Tell me about yours and what you learned.
Novel-writing can tax a writer’s energies and endurance. But I persevered through the traditional long waiting periods and influx of rejections. Determined to learn as much as I could about the craft of fiction and the publishing industry itself, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers in 2002 and began to see evidence that I really was growing as a writer. Prayer, persistence, and a patience I didn’t feel naturally led me to the day in 2008 when a manuscript of mine was a finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest for unpublished authors. Within a month of receiving that award, I’d signed with an agent and a publishing house. The book released eighteen months later as They Almost Always Come Home. It surprised me to learn that I would enjoy each leg of the journey, no matter how difficult the terrain.
5) If you could say one thing to that writer who has a manuscript, believes in their novel, and yet keeps getting rejected, what would that be?
I’ve developed a standard answer for that. Work as hard as you can and wait as hard as you can. There’s always more to learn and always a new challenge to our ability to and penchant (or lack of it) for waiting. But the Bible notes many of the Lord’s favorite people were entrusted with difficult assignments and long waits. Those who remained faithful to Him and to what He asked them to do partnered with God in something spectacular. Abraham, Noah, Joseph the son of Jacob, Gideon, Jesus.
Waiting with grace is as important as working with gusto for a writer. Which reminds me, I’d better get back to both! Thank you for the stimulating interview, Daniel.