BIO: C.J. Darlington is the winner of the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over a decade, scouting for stores similar to the one described in Thicker than Blood before cofounding her own online bookstore. She also cofounded the Christian entertainment Web site A homeschool graduate, she lives in Pennsylvania with her family. Visit her Web site at

In your book Thicker than Blood, you described the job of an antiquarian bookseller. Was that an accurate description? Leave any parts out? Since you had this job in the past I was just wondering.

Writing about Dawson’s Book Barn (my fictional bookstore) and being able to include lots of bookselling facts was a really fun part of writing Thicker than Blood. I tried to describe the business as accurately as possible. It’s a hard time economically to be a used bookdealer. The aspects of the antiquarian book trade I focused on in this story were those of a large bricks-and-mortar store. It can be a little different if you’re going solo as a book scout or small store owner, and I’m hoping to cover some more aspects of this profession in future books. Book scouting is hard work.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you make the leap to author?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eleven or twelve. I had no idea how to make that happen, but the desire was there. As the years passed that desire never left. It’s been an amazing experience to have folks like you actually read some of the stories I’ve written. It’s really a dream come true.

Did you come up with the book title? If not, what was the working title of this story?

My mom actually came up with Thicker than Blood. My working title for several years was The City Girl and the Country Girl, but I knew that would have to be changed to something more marketable. When mom hit on Thicker than Blood, I liked it and purposely wove that theme into the story more than I’d originally planned. I’m really glad Tyndale decided to stay with it.

What did you love most about being an antiquarian bookseller? What did you like least?

I love holding old books in my hands, smelling the pages, and flipping through them. I also love the challenge of learning all the points of various first editions. You can never learn everything, and that keeps it interesting.

I think actually going out to book sales to acquire the books was the hardest part of the business. There was a ton of stress, because twenty other dealers would also be at the sale, and they also knew what was valuable and would want to get those books before you. The competition was fierce, and there were some crazy characters we’d run into. I hope to write about some of those experiences in future books.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on next? When do you suspect it will be out?

I have completed the sequel to Thicker than Blood and have begun a third book now. The working title for the sequel is Innocent Blood. Some of the major characters from Thicker become minor characters in Innocent. But there are many new characters as well. Rare books also feature prominently, especially a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The story revolves around a teenage girl named Roxi who finds herself homeless and in serious trouble. Another main character is Abby Dawson, the older sister of Hunter Dawson the bookstore manager.

Did you have any say in choosing the book cover? I love it!

I love it too! Tyndale surprised me with that cover on stage when they announced my book as the winner of the 2008 Operation First Novel contest. It so beautifully captures the story. I couldn’t be happier with it. The designer, Jennifer Ghionzoli, is brilliant. She actually took that picture of the books on the cover herself.

I looked at your pictures on facebook and ran across Jerry Jenkins holding this very book cover poster you are holding. Can you tell me the story behind that photo. I'm sure it's a good one?

The picture where Jerry B. Jenkins is holding a poster of the Thicker than Blood cover was taken moments after he announced my novel as the winner of the 2008 Christian Writer's Guild Operation First Novel contest at their annual Writing for the Soul writers conference. Part of the prize of the contest includespublication with Tyndale House. Operation First Novel is an annual contest the Christian Writers Guild holds in which writers can submit their complete manuscripts. The CWG selects approximately ten semi-finalists and then four or five finalists. Those finalists are sent to the acquisitions team at Tyndale who make the final selection of the winner. They surprised me on stage with the cover of Thicker than Blood that night too, and it was so awesome!

(second photo with Jerry Jenkins) L-R Karen Watson, C.J. Darlington, and Jerry Jenkins at the Writing for the Soul conference where C.J. found out she won the 2008 Operation First Novel contest.(photo credit: Cindi Koceich of Selah Photography Studios)

I noticed you mentioned real book titles and authors in your book of book treasures. Was it hard to choose what titles you were to put into your book?

That’s a great question. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. As I wrote the story, books would just come to my mind. Some of them I’ve actually seen or held myself, others I’ve only heard about. Then later during revisions I did go back and add in some other titles.

What was the most expensive book treasure you found? What did you find the most nerve racking about book auctions? What did you love most about it?

One of the cooler finds we had the priviledge of selling were several volumes in a set called The Botanical Register. These are books full of hand-colored plates of flowers and plants from the early 19th century. They were amazing. Some of the plates even folded out to become larger. When we got these books in we didn’t realize what we had at first because they were missing their covers and looked really ratty. But then when we opened them up and saw those beautiful plates we realized we had something special. Each volume was worth about a thousand dollars.

Book auctions were a lot of fun. It was especially nerve wracking when we had one of our own books up for sale in the auction. But it was a good kind of nerve wracking because we had no idea how much the books would go for. The auctions gave me the chance to hold so many treasures I might not otherwise have had the chance to see.

Do you have a passion for riding horses and ranches like May did? If so, when did you develop this passion?

I took horseback riding lessons when I was a kid, and my sister and I had our own pony for several years. Her name was Raisin and she was a cute Appaloosa. Then we stopped riding for awhile, but even as a teenager something about cowboys and ranching fascinated me. I have amassed a small library of books on the subject, never ceasing to be intrigued with that lifestyle. Within the last year or so I’ve started volunteering at a horse barn, and it’s been wonderful to be around horses again. The American West has always held me in awe, and I decided to set the book in Colorado, one of my favorite states.


If you could pick two people to hang out with (not necessarily at the same time) in the history of the world, alive or dead (besides Jesus) who would you like to hang out with. What would you do?

Wow. I had to really think about this question.

I think the first person I’d like to hang around would be Albert Einstein. I’d love to pick his brain and try to understand the way he thought about the universe.

Second, I think I’d go with Frank Peretti. I’ve admired him as a writer for many, many years, and it would be fun to have coffee with him and talk about writing.

Name four of your favorite books of all time.

Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti - one of the first adult Christian novels I ever read. I think I re-read it at least five times.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – my favorite series of all time, and they really do withstand the test of time.

Christy by Catherine Marshall – I read this around the same time as the Peretti, I think I was twelve.

The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello – this is a new favorite of mine. I really enjoy Sibella’s writing style.

What movie most impacted you as a kid? Why?

We watched a lot of old Disney movies growing up. I think I’ve seen Swiss Family Robinson at least ten times. I can’t think of any that impacted me hugely though. I enjoyed the BBC versions of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Black Stallion.

Name three things you would not want to live without?
Besides my family, of course . . .

My computer, because that’s what I write on. I could adapt to pen and paper, I suppose, but I think it would take me a lot longer.

Books. I love books! If I had to give them up life could be pretty miserable.

My dogs. They really are my children.

This is my first born~~

What was the last movie you saw in the theater? Did you like it and what kind of snacks are your favorite movie treats?

The Blind Side. Enjoyed that one a lot. It had some really funny parts and yet dealt with a serious subject as well. It was especially cool that it was based on real life events and people. I love to get a small bag of popcorn (so I don’t overeat!) and a cup of flavored coffee. Going to the movies (if it’s a good movie) is one of my favorite things to do.

You find yourself in a life threatening situation and you have to call on someone to save you (other than Jesus) who would you call for help? Why?

Other than Jesus? Yikes. Don’t know of anyone else I’d like to call, but if I had to . . . Thinking . . . Oh, I know. Lassie!


Thank you for reading Christian fiction! Without readers, writers would be a desperate bunch.

Thanks for stopping by C.J. It's been great fun to get to know you and your new book. All the best to you. Can't wait for you to stop by again. Blessings to you in the NEW YEAR!!

Nora :D

LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW for your name to be put into the hat for your chance to win a copy o C.J. Darlington's new book Thicker Than Blood, Itotally enjoyed it.

DRAWING WILL BE JANUARY 20th-PLEASE leave a correct email address so I can contact you if you win.

****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open U.S. residents and Canadian residents only, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

CONGRATS MARLENE - you have won a copy of Thicker Than Blood!! THANKS to everyone for leaving your comments and encouraging this new author.

BLESSINGS to all --Thanks also to C.J. for this interview. IT was fun to get to know you and share your story with my readers.

Nora :D


  1. Great interview! :) I've been watching the buzz on this book over the last few months and am looking forward to reading it.

    srfbluemama at gmail dot com

  2. What a well-done interview! Some interviews are pretty boring, this interview caught my in the begining because of all of the graphics. The interesting questions and answers kept me reading until the end. Keep up the great work!

    Thank you for the Giveaway and the chance to win this book.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. Fun interview! I'd love a chance to win the book.

  4. Great interview and I definitely want to read this book. I would love a job that had you collecting books. Thanks for sharing and please enter me in the drawing.

    Sheryl Barnes

  5. great the pictorials :) Thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous book.


  6. Nora,

    Thank you for such an interesting interview! I really enjoyed reading about C.J. Darlington and actually found that we have several things in common, how cool!

    You know that in this generation we need pictures to keep us came through! I am jotting things down for future reference for sure :-)

    Many Blessings,


    LucieInCA (at) aol (dot) com

    p.s. if I win this drawing I will give this copy to someone in my book club since I just got a copy myself.

  7. This was a absolutely fantastic interview. Really enjoyed it.

    This book also sounds absolutely fantastic and would love to get entered in the drawing. Look forward to reading the book.


  8. I was kinda surprised the see that Peretti is who you'd hang out with. Never read anything by him, but saw the movie Hangman's Curse!

    Please enter me!

    ladyverlina AY yahoo DOT com

  9. CJ, I'm suspicious of anyone saying he or she wants to be a writer who doesn't love old books. You're just the opposite -- and love the smell and feel of old ones.

    I'm proud of you and wish you the best.

    Latayne C Scott
    latayne at latayne dot com

  10. What a wonderful interview about a great writing journey. I like the pictures you put with your interviews. Please sign me up.
    Deborah M.

  11. Looks good, please enter me. :)


  12. I enjoyed getting to know CJ a little better, great inteview, Nora! Please add me to the drawing. Thanks.


  13. Great interview. Can't wait to read the book!

    Gail Mundy

  14. Great interview!! I really enjoy learning more about the authors I love to read:) I also like the movies she liked as a child. Swiss Family Robinson is one of our favorites too:) Please enter me. I would love to read this book. Thanks!!

  15. Just curious, what was the top picture of? I love scouting for old books in used bookstores, but it would be hard to be an owner of one!!
    I loved the Blind Side! It was a great movie! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

  16. I loved the interview . It got my attention when talking about old books and first editions . My Dad and uncle would collect old books. Please put my name in for the book.Betsy

  17. This book went on my wish list several weeks ago and I'm sure the award was well deserved.

    I enjoyed the interview and was glad to see Christy on C.J.'s favorite list. What a classic and inspirational book!

    Thank you for the giveaway.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  18. Have worked in the Used Book Business - would love to own my own so this book would be a fascinating read!
    (Always working on eventually selling the right MS to the right Publisher as well)
    Great interview!

  19. What a great interview! I love reading the fun C.J. factoids. :-)

  20. Great interview.I'd really love to read this book.It sure sounds very interesting.Thanks

  21. This story line of this book sounds great to me! I'm also very interested to read how C.J. weaves the antiquarian book business into the plot. I know this is going to be a great book to read.

    Marlene A. Rauch

  22. I've heard some wonderful things about this book. I would love to win a copy.
    Please enter my name in your drawing. Thanks!


  23. Very nice interview and what a lovely cover for "Thicker Than Blood." I would like to be entered for the giveaway, if I'm not too late. Thank you!



  24. Great interview. I actually wanted to read the whole thing. I have to admit, that I do not always "read" the whole of most interviews. Thanks for the chance to win the book. Blessings!


  25. great interview, please enter me thanks

  26. CONGRATS MARLENE - My son picked your name out of a hat.

    THANKS to everyone that left a comment. It was really encouraging to the author. I appreciate you all stopping by.


    Nora :D

  27. This was such a fun interview to do, Nora! I appreciate your awesome questions! Thanks for the opportunity.

  28. I enjoyed your interview, and I would really like to read this book. I love antiquarian books so this sounds like a very intriguing story!