Meet the Author: Allison Pittman
Award-winning author Allison Pittman left a seventeen-year teaching career in 2005 to follow the Lord's calling into the world of Christian fiction, and God continues to bless her step of faith. Her novels For Time and Eternity and Forsaking All Others were both finalists for the Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction, and her novel Stealing Home won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol Award. She heads up a successful, thriving writers group in San Antonio, Texas, where she lives with her husband, Mike, their three sons, and the canine star of the family—Stella.
Q&A with Allison Pittman
Q: What started you on the path to writing Historical Christian novels?
A: I love history. I'm fascinated with the idea that, despite our differences in technology and wardrobe, men and women have always lived with the same desires for love and home. And, given that God's promises are unchanging, the path to those things hasn’t changed, either. I also like having the freedom to play with people and places, bringing real historical figures into the story to do something that history never got around to recording.
Q: You have a way of describing the feelings of your characters so potently. Are some of your characters based on people from your past?
A: Not often. The character of Lilly from Lilies in Moonlight is the embodiment of a favorite former student of mine—a beautiful young girl who is effervescent, but with a deep, almost haunted center. When Lilly came to me, I emailed this girl and said, “I’m totally stealing your essence for this character. Is that OK?” (oh, and for readers who have read Lilies in Moonlight, let me add that Stephanie has a lovely mother…) Now, all those minor characters? They are totally taken from my Sunday School class, my family, my students, former co-workers, in-laws… You name it!
Q: Can you tell us more about why several of your books have a baseball theme? Did you enjoy the sport as a child? What is your current favorite team?
A: I don't think I even grew up with a knowledge that baseball existed outside of my dad's TV. I don’t think I ever thought much of it until my own sons started playing. Then, I found a book called Glove Affairs, about the history of the baseball glove. I loved the title, read the book, and learned that early players didn't wear gloves, and some would play entire seasons with broken fingers. They left the game too damaged to do any other kind of work. This was during the Major League strike, and the gap between the players' greed and the sacrifices of their "ancestors" struck a chord with me. I thought, These guys were heroes? Why don’t we write books about them? How many more love stories with farmers and ranchers and blacksmiths do we need? Baseball players were our first celebrities; they were cultural soldiers, fascinating, ordinary men.
Q: At the end of "Speak Through the Wind", we are not sure what direction Kassandra and Rev. Joseph's relationship will turn. I have always thought it would lead to marriage. Have you thought about writing a sequel for the book?
A: No. That's one that I’ll leave the readers to write for themselves. I’ve heard both from readers who hope that it will lead to marriage, giving Kassandra the home and stability she needs. Others are outraged at the thought of such a thing. Does Kassandra need a father? Or is she meant to be a bride? We as Christians have a relationship we have with our heavenly Father, yet we as a church are identified as the Bride of Christ. Those dual roles call to us in different ways, yet they don't contradict each other. I love the ambiguity of that ending. In fact, I like a touch of ambiguity in all of my book endings. I figure, I've given you the story; you have all the pieces in place. Now, when you close that back cover, give yourself a few minutes to dream up that final, perfect scene.
Q: I love the Crossroads of Grace series. What was your inspiration for writing the series?
A: The inspiration was a photograph in a history book of a group of prostitutes in a small Colorado mining town. Movies and TV always show the prostitutes all tarted up with make-up and flashy dresses. Or, in more modern ones, hanging around in their corsets and camisoles. This group of actual frontier prostitutes could have been a quilting club. Only the caption identified their true profession. That, and their faces. I know most historical photographs feature somber-faced subjects, but they looked like they had no hope. And I thought—these are just women. Ordinary, normal women who just want what everybody else wants: home, shelter, life. I couldn’t judge them for what they did. I couldn’t put our modern standards on them. They might have worked at Burger King or something if they lived today. I just loved them. So, Gloria from Ten Thousand Charms was born within those minutes.
Q: What are some of your own favorite Christian fiction authors?
A: Lynn Austin, for one. I never thought about actually writing fiction until I read her novel Eve's Daughters. It's the first Christian novel I’d ever read (except, of course, for Christy which I read in 6th grade). I was a co-finalist with her for the Christy Award for the past two years with my Sister Wives Series; I can’t even begin to tell you what an honor that was! I also love Jenny B. Jones—fabulously witty.
Q: What book are you working on right now and when will it be published?
A: Right now I'm working on a new series set in the 1920's. I love that era! I think, historically, it's the most socially and culturally relevant to our modern age. The first book is titled All for a Song, and it’s due out in February, 2013.
Interview Date: July 2012
Profile and questions compiled by Jeanenne R., Steele Creek Branch Library