A Southern woman who knows that you don’t wear white after Labor Day and that any gumbo worth its salt begins with a roux, Christa Allan writes Christian women’s fiction dealing with far tougher issues, like alcoholism and abuse.

She is a recently retired English teacher, the mother of five and grandmother to three, and the author of five novels, all released in the past five years. Her latest is Test of Faith from Abingdon Press (March 2014).

Christa and her husband, Ken, share a 170-year-old home in New Orleans with three neurotic cats and a rescue Chihuahua mix.

Which came first, your desire to teach English or to write stories?

Hmmm….tough question! Never thought about that, but thinking back to high school when I thought I wanted to be in the medical field, I suppose the desire to write came first. I think the idea of being in medical technology seemed much more attractive and status-y than being an English teacher! Of course, college changed all that. I didn’t love Biology as much as I did Shakespeare.

How does your faith play into your writing?

My novels address tough issues like alcoholism, abuse, homosexuality, and I’ve always felt that demonstrating that God calls us to love, and He meets us wherever were expressions of my faith. My stories also reflect redemption and hope, which I would never experience without a loving God.

Let’s talk about Test of Faith. Please tell us a bit about it.

Like all marriages, Elle and Logan Butler’s has its ups and downs. Yet they hang together, even as his political campaign escalates. But Elle has a secret that haunts her, one that she never thought would be revealed. It’s a secret that has driven her from God and kept her from sharing her whole heart with the man she loves.

But now the secret must be told.

The news rips Elle’s world apart as she struggles with painful memories and paralyzing fear of what will happen when she tells Logan. Every secret has consequences, and this one could destroy everything they’ve built.

What inspired the idea for the story—and what was the most difficult part about writing it?

The story is based on a true story told to me over dinner one night by the wife of a friend of my husband. As soon as we closed our car doors to leave, I pulled by checkbook out of my purse (it was the only paper I had at the time—I know better now!) and started making notes on the backs of my checks and deposit slips.

The most difficult part of writing this was/is my fear that readers would find the premise unbelievable. Truth truly is stranger than fiction, so I did my best to honor her story.

Can you tell us about a recent “detour” in your life—or in one of your character’s lives—that taught you something?

A little over a year ago, I retired after teaching high school English for twenty-five years. Six months after that, my husband decided to open his own veterinary clinic, and I was called to duty. Let’s say, I was dragged pouting and resentful. The first few months of working full-time were not pretty; in fact, I wondered if our relationship would survive.

Lately, my only writing consists of chart notes and prescription labels. I now have two days off a week, and I’m ever so grateful. Still difficult to get myself back into writer mode, but I’m working on it. I learned, as my sweet writer friend Jenny Jones told me, that this is a season in my life. I have a greater appreciation for what my husband does on a daily basis, especially when I see him doing surgery or caring for very sick patients. I’ve learned that getting fired is quite difficult when you’re not getting paid!

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch because it’s just so decadent.

This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?

Oh, goodness, no. The best I can do is make a joyful noise.

If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?

Anything jazzy.

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

I’d probably be the girl next door who’s trying to walk in high heels.

I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.

We have three neurotic cats—Amelia, Newton and Harry. Our newest addition is a rescue dog, a Chihuahua mix named Herman. He was found comatose on the side of a road and brought to my husband. Ken force feed him for a week to keep him alive, then he was neurologically blind for a few weeks, and finally weeks later, he fully recovered. Ken couldn’t bear to part with him, so now he’s ours. Herman enjoys eating my sweatpants, jeans, bras, anything plastic, and Magic Erasers.

Thanks, Christa! It’s great to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thank you!!! I am grateful for the invitation!

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 For more information about Christa, visit her website.

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