Friday, August 7, 2009

Author Fridays Presents Sheridan Elaine Claude

Welcome to another edition of Author Fridays! Sit back, get comfortable and
read about this week's featured author, Sheridan Elaine Claude

Sheridan Elaine Claude is the author of "Across Time, Across Tears" and" The
Long Walk Home", both published by Publish America.
www.publishamerica.com
She gives credit to the grace of God for honoring "The Long Walk Home" as
book of the week and the number one best seller for three weeks. It was
among the top ten best sellers for three months.

"I was raised in a pagan household," Claude says. "My parents weren't saved
until after I was grown. The Lord had mercy on me when I was
thirty-three-years-old, but it is interesting to note that my initial
inspiration came from reading the Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis as a
child. My imagination was awakened by his "Narnia" series. My mom also had
the entire "Nancy Drew" series when I was young, so I spent hours inside
mystery books. When I was in fourth grade, I was no longer content to read
the stories of others. I wanted to create. This desire became a driving
force. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had written and illustrated three
books. The last book was a time-travel novel called "The Time Tunnel". When
a TV program came out with the same title and a similar premise, I was
crushed, and threw my book away, thinking that only one of us could legally
hold the rights to the story, and they had beat me to it. I turned to art,
only coming back to writing when I was a senior in High School. After a
hitch as a Navy medic during the Vietnam War, I used the GI Bill to major in
creative writing at Northern Arizona University, and began writing a fantasy
series for the world. The series, very popular among the college students,
was in the early stages of publication when the Lord allowed my life to fall
apart. My husband left me for another woman, and I moved to Florida. Five
months later the Lord graciously had mercy on my soul. Again, I threw away
my books, two of which were complete, and the third was under way. I didn't
want my name associated with such stories. Needless to say, I lost my
literary agent. After that, I donated my computer to my church's Christian
school and stopped writing. That is, until the Lord drew me back to it."

When interviewing Ms. Claude, my heart was touched to learn how she came up
with the ideas for her books. An idea for "The Long Walk Home", started
while she was listening to a testimony given by a friend from her church,
Gita. "I was amazed that she had survived the sinking of a ship and the
devastation of World War II, as a young woman," says Claude. "I had been her
prayer partner for two years and knew nothing about her horrific past! As I
listened," Claude continues, "I noticed tears on the faces of Gita's
audience, even as I wiped my own eyes. My pulse was pounding. The urge to
write returned full force. I silently prayed to be allowed to tell her
story. When the evening ended, one of Gita's daughters asked me to consider
writing her mother's story, and my heart leapt for joy and wonder. However,
Gita was dismayed by the idea. She was terrified of revisiting her memories,
and afraid that the Russian Secret Police (KGB) would arrest her. Old fears
die hard, especially deep ones. I suggested that the three of us pray about
the matter, and if the Lord wanted her story told, He would have to supply
me with a computer or typewriter. Within the month, my estranged husband
sent me a computer, printer, monitor, and even the paper to get started!"

Sheridan's novel, "Across Time, Across Tears" began as a burden on her heart
for a young Moslem convert to Christianity, who was sentenced to die. He was
to be executed the next morning, so Claude spent all night praying for him.
The next she heard, he had been released from prison, and exiled to
Australia with his wife and young child. For this, she gives God all the
praise! Two nights later, she had a vivid dream about the Middle East. "I
don't usually remember my dreams," Claude confides, "but this one wouldn't
leave me alone. From that dream came the idea for a story about a young
woman whose undercover medical-missionary parents are killed in the Middle
East, leaving her alone to flee their murderers. The twist comes when Rachel
is sold to the crown prince responsible for the jihad, but since she is
veiled, he has no idea who he has bought. Then God begins to work on both of
them! The book is a Christian thriller."

When it comes to ideas for her books, Claude says that they do not come
easily, although she wishes it were otherwise. She encourages beginners to
write about what they know and what they have experienced. "An idea can come
from anywhere," she says. "Keep your eyes and ears open. Jot them down when
they come. Don't think you will retain them. I've lost many thoughts because
I failed to write them down." And, when asked for her best advice, she
continues, " Write, write, write, and then write some more! Writing takes
practice, just like any skill. The principle that I live by is even if you
are the only person who will ever see your manuscript, do the best job that
you can. Why? Because the Lord sees, and you never know from what direction
your breakthrough will come. Do it unto the Lord. Also, remember that the
best stories have a character with an overriding goal, a deep fear, and the
opportunity to achieve the former and confront the latter. Don't be afraid
to let your characters be themselves. It will stretch you as a writer.
Create your characters, devise incidences, tell stories, and do it with
sincerity and passion!"

As an adult, Ms. Claude does not have a favorite author, but when she was a
child her favorite was J.R.R. Tolkien, followed closely by C.S. Lewis. She
says she doesn't read as much as she used to, because she has been
disappointed by the shallowness of so many Christian books. She says, and I
quote, "Most mainstream Christian publishers are interested in turning a
nice profit, so they sacrifice biblical truth for broad-audience books that
cause no offense. There is a balance that can be found between a book that
is preachy (which I personally dislike, unless it is a doctrinal book) and
one that is so shallow one can hardly tell it is Christian. I hope my books
have found that balance."

In times past, Sheridan has enjoyed outdoor sports, such as downhill skiing
and scuba diving, and less extreme engagements such as golf, camping and
swimming. Art (her minor study in college) was a hobby for many years until
her eyes dictated that she give it up. Now, she spends time at her computer,
writing, emailing, editing for others, and enjoying both mind-stimulating
and relaxing computer games. She takes daily three-mile walks to help her
mind to focus. In 2005 she began co-authoring movie scripts, which took her
in the direction of screenwriting. "All three of the scripts that I was
privileged to work on," she tells me, "were produced: two by an independent
Christian studio called Last Acts Studio, and the third for the University
of Florida. I directed and edited the movie for UF, as well as co-authored
the script."

I personally have not had the privilege to read Ms. Claude's books, but be
assured, I would love to do so, especially, after writing this article. When
I asked her what makes her books so special, she replied, "We are entering
into hard times as a nation and as a world. Christians need to know and
understand God's mercy in allowing us to suffer. We need to know that it
strengthens faith. We need to know that we can trust Him with our lives no
matter what happens. God is with us, and still loves us. Both of my books
tell stories of young women that lost everything and continued on to victory
with God's help. Both books give courage, lift depression, and draw people
into Jesus' loving embrace with tears and laughter. There is laughter, love
and life after total despair. Hold on; the light is coming, and that light
is Jesus."

For more information about Sheridan Elaine Claude and her books, please
visit her website
www.sheridanclaude.com

Thank you for joining me today! If you are a published author and would like
to be featured here, please send an email to
ShannonNicoleWells@suddenlink.net
Put "author interview" in the subject, and I'll get back with you as soon as
I can. Thanks for reading and come back next Friday for another edition of
Author Fridays!

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