[The following article was originally published in the Huntington College student newspaper, The Huntingtonian. Rachel Tinon is a sophomore English major at Huntington College and hails from Pataskala, Ohio.]
Huntington, Ind.— Think of a story—perhaps a thought that enters the mind as a childhood daydream. What becomes of such a story? For some, it floats out of the mind as quickly as it entered, never to be remembered. For Huntington College sophomore Rachel Tinon, it became a book.
That day as Rachel Tinon was daydreaming in the laundry room, a story came to the twelve-year old that kept on growing, finally developing into a large plot. By the time she was seventeen, the book was written. And recently, Rachel Tinon’s first novel, Circle of Shadows, was published.
Circle of Shadows, in its eighteen chapters and 385 pages, deals with issues not normally confronted in Christian fiction. Satanism, abuse, premarital sex, and depression are all problems faced by characters in the book, and problems that, Tinon says, are all too often absent from novels of this type.
“I didn’t write the book to make money or for personal gratification,” Tinon says. “I wrote it because there are certain aspects of Christian life—like sin, forgiveness, making mistakes and learning how to live with the consequences—that I felt were not being fairly addressed in most Christian fiction.”
These “uncomfortable, real life issues” as Tinon calls them, are largely ignored in Christian fiction for a less realistic view that after a person is saved, there are no problems. But, Tinon asks, “what happens when Christians suffer?” “What happens when Christians sin?”
Therefore, Tinon’s book faces these issues with boldness, exploring how God deals with his imperfect people. The main characters have a “crisis of faith,” wrestling with issues of forgiveness and God’s grace, and asking whether or not God can forgive them.
Addressing the serious issues of sin, forgiveness, healing, and God’s unmerited favor is something Tinon says she confronted in her novel in an honest manner, instead of skipping over such harsh realities as has sometimes been done by Christian novelists.
No typical images of “bad guys” and “good guys” are found in the book, Tinon says, as the heroes are fallen, the villains are human, and the story investigates realistically how families can be damaged, people could turn to the occult, and Christians who may be expected to have it all together can still make mistakes.
“I felt I had a story to tell,” Tinon says as she recalls her motives for writing the book. “I think it’s very real. It shows Christian life as it sometimes is…the parts that we would like to ignore about ourselves. It doesn’t shy away from the realities of human existence—even Christian existence, and the fact that it sometimes isn’t pleasant—that sometimes it’s hard and sometimes we fail-- and we have to get back up and ask God to help us go on.”
While the first two drafts of Circle of Shadows were written by hand, Tinon attempted to put the story in a more publishable form as it grew. Starting the writing process at age twelve and finishing it near the age of eighteen, Tinon admits that parts of the story changed as she grew older and gained new perspectives.
When she was seventeen, Tinon had her first thoughts of publishing the story, and after her graduation from high school, she took a year off to pursue the possibility of getting the book published.
Originally, Tinon wanted the book published by a Christian publishing house, fearing that a secular publisher might have little regard for the overall message being communicated and the powerful Christian themes involved. However, after the manuscript sat for an entire year at a major Christian publishing house, it was rejected.
This exhibits the difficulty of entering the Christian publishing market, which Tinon says relies heavily on previously published “big names,” and shows a lesser regard for newer, lesser known authors.
Then, Tinon decided, it was time to pursue the secular market. And after submission to that publisher, her manuscript was accepted in two weeks. As it turned out, Tinon says, the editors of her book did well at recognizing and preserving the themes so central to the book’s message.
Circle of Shadows, by Rachel Linden Tinon, can be ordered at any local bookstore. A book-signing is scheduled for later this year.
Huntington College is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 60 academic concentrations. US News & World Report ranks Huntington among the Top 10 comprehensive colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington College is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in Huntington, Indiana.
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