Interview with Christel Cranko

What is your writing process?
For starters, I like to write with a pen. It makes me feel warm and comfortable to take a fine tip pen, settle in a comfy chair with my coffee (sustenance) and start to make notes of the ideas that have been floating round in my head for a while. I sketch an outline (which often changes as I move along), and then I start to flesh out the bits and pieces. It's peaceful and tranquil. I love reading sections of my work to my family as I go along. That way I get encouragement and ongoing critique.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It wasn't my first story but it's the first one I can remember as I won a national short story competition. I was about seventeen years old. The heroin was an abused girl called Gazelle and it was a thriller that took place in a forest.
What are you working on next?
I am finalising a few children's stories. The illustrations are in progress and the audio books are pretty much completed. I am very passionate about encouraging, guiding and giving children emotional tools and understanding.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember the first real story book that I read on my own; Johnny Apple Tree. I loved it and read it repeatedly. I picked it up many times as the years went on, just because I loved it so much.Even now, I get all warm and fuzzy if I see a copy of the Johnny Apple Tree story and I want to read it. I adored his heart for people and animals. I was awed by the fact that one man could make such an impact on a vast section of a country by planting apple trees and teaching others that the simple act of planting an apple seed can help others in the future.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love seeing the story unfold. I am always fascinated at the way it becomes something I didn't seem to create. It is something I envisioned but the whole is just so much greater than the sum of the parts. I also get very excited when people love my writing and are blessed by it or learn from it. It gives me courage to tell the next story and try to add one more good thing to this world.
Who are your favorite authors?
Top of my list is Jane Austin. I reread at least one of her books about once a year. I own a few copies of Pride and Prejudice (much to the confusion of my family). I am so fascinated by her use of words and wit. My favorite!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
God, my work for him, my family and the excitement of knowing that each day brings amazing and unexpected things. Each day I know that I am learning and growing. I love that about a life with Him.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small gold mining town in South Africa. My mom owned and ran a highly respected preschool. Living in this environment exposed me to much suffering around me; particularly that of women and children. My own childhood home caused me much trauma that took many years to heal. This gave me a passion for the protection of women and children. I came to believe that an intellectual understanding and spiritual awakening would empower and set them free to be whole and make decisions that would lead to healing. I saw many people dehumanised and humiliated and I am therefore fervent about human dignity and respect. I try to teach this in my writing whether it be for children or adults.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Monsters in my House is my life or at least an aspect of my life thus far. I never considered writing this story and first wrote a novel just using aspects of my life in a mining town as the foundation of the beginnings of the story. I have many stories that I want to share and have a number of possible ways of telling them. So I focused on that. However, it eventually became apparent to me that the story of my life could bring some understanding and healing to others. I believe that God wanted to take my journey, pain and ultimate healing to help others to be healed. Hopefully my story could teach them to take a shorter path than I did, to that healing and the wonderful relief of freedom.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I wrote my first novel, and I was looking for an agent ( which I eventually found), I really struggled to categorise it into a particular genre, which made it difficult to get an agent or publishing house to read the proposal. I started to think about publishing independently. When I wrote The Monsters in my House, I immediately decided to go the indie route as it is quicker and the process is very satisfying.
Published 2015-11-23.
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