“I believe in happy endings,” writes Christine Lindsay. “I believe in love and family and friendship. I believe in all of these things because I believe in a benevolent heavenly Father who wrote the wonderful story of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, for all mankind.”
Christine’s story, Veiled at Midnight, the last in her Twilight of the Raj series, celebrates all those things in the midst of one of the most tragic periods of modern history. India is falling into violence as the Muslim League and Hindu Congress fight for separate states, massacring one another in the process. Miriam Fraser’s students at Kinaird College for Women in Lahore come from a variety of religious communities. Can they model unity in the confusion? Will her passion for teaching them stand as a dashing English officer begs her to return with him to the safety of British colonial rule? Her brother, Captain Cameron Fraser has fallen in love with an Indian orphan girl they were raised with at the mission where their parents served, but his estranged childhood friend, another orphan, loves her too and will do anything to keep them apart.
Filled with romance, suspense, history and spiritual insight, this book swept me up from its opening rail disaster to its final escape amidst the murderous mobs. Christine’s writing brings to life the Indian subcontinent with its sights, smells and rich cultures. She portrays both English and Indian characters with amazing authenticity.
Christine is a regular writer on this blog and I was eager to talk to her about her book.
Christine, I understand you had never been to India when you wrote the first book in this series, Shadowed in Silk (about Cam’s parents). What drew you to India and the Indian people in the first place?
Christine Lindsay: When I was about twelve I read a true-life book about a young girl in India who was studying to be a doctor at Dr. Ida Scudder’s hospital in the south of India. This girl was highly intelligent, but imprisoned by her poverty she would never have been able to study if not for missionary organizations. I felt so much for this girl. Later in my life at church prayer meetings here in Canada, I learned about other caring organizations such as the Ramabai Mukti Mission close to Bombay. These stories inspired me so that when I started writing historical fiction, it was India that held my heart and interest.
LH: What was the biggest challenge of writing about a place you had never been?
CL: The tremendous amount of research. I must have read close to 100 books: auto-biographies of British and American people who went to live in India, missionaries, wives of political leaders, soldier’s wives, Indian politics, religions, Indian women, travel books, etc. Even parts of my own ancestry since several relatives served in the British military in India, including a great uncle at the time of Lord Mountbatten.
LH: You visited India between that book and the next. Tell us a little about your trip and how it enriched your writing.
CL: My visit in 2010 was a highlight of my life. I hope to visit again one day as my birth-daughter serves in an administrative role with Global Aid Network and the Mukti Mission that I mentioned. But in 2010, on a missionary trip with Children’s Camps International I observed their wonderful program that teaches children about Christ through fun and songs. My fascination with India grew into genuine love for the people.
LH: Many of your major characters are Indian, not English, and yet you manage to portray them with great sensitivity. What do you think enabled you to do that?
CL: I learned a great deal about Indian character from the block-buster novelist MM Kaye. She didn’t write Christian fiction, but she wrote fantastic historical novels set in British India. But I also live in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia Canada, home to a large Indian community. Eating Indian food, seeing their gorgeous culture has allowed me to see the Indian people as my neighbours, as friends, and dearly beloved people of God.
LH: Your characters have a deep love for India and commitment to serving the Lord there. Where did you see that in your own experience?
CL: Sadly, I still see a lot of distrust of Indian people in the community. It is changing, but in the younger generations, and from Christians. It has been from Christian missionaries that I’ve seen the greatest love shown to Indian people. I’m not sure why, but somehow the Lord instilled in me an intense anger when I hear about or see racial bias. I suppose I write my stories as a way of saying, “Hey there! God loves these people; He sent His son to die for them same as He died for you, so you should love them too.”
LH: Most of your readers are neither Muslim nor Hindu. What would you like us to take away from your story?
CL: We Christians especially must realize how much the Lord Jesus loves these people who are so diligently searching for God. But, we see so much mistrust of Muslims and Hindus today. I can understand that fear when I watch the atrocities on the news. ISIS freezes my blood. But I remind myself that these terrorists are just as merciless to their own people, especially to their women. This was true in history and is true today.
I’m not a missionary, only a writer, but I think we should all try to care and do what we can through organizations that are working to help people who are being downtrodden by fanaticism.
LH: This is the last of your Twilight of the Raj series. What are you working on now?
CL: I’m trying to finish the true-life story of my relinquishment of my first child to adoption. I was unmarried when I became pregnant, and made the painful decision to give her up.
The Lord used that heart-breaking decision to teach me so much about Himself. Sarah and I were reunited 20 years later, and today we have a wonderful relationship. God used each of our passions—hers to be a missionary nurse to widows and children around the world, and mine to write about suffering women and children around the world—to draw our hearts into a very special birth-mom and birth-daughter relationship.
LH: We will look forward to hearing your personal story. Thank you so much for sharing with us here today.
LeAnne Hardy's first international experience was a visit to India and Pakistan as a child. Since then she lived in six countries on four continents. Her fiction reflects her faith, her passion for storytelling that stretches the mind and soul, and the cultures she has lived in. Learn more at www.leannehardy.net .