TROY — For a pastor’s wife, her unique role can make daily circumstances rather complex. But for everyone, life can be challenging.
That’s why, national Amy Award-winning writer, Christina Ryan Claypool, a regular Miami Valley Today contributing columnist, says she authored the “inspirational-genre” book, “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel.”
According to Claypool, the book explores topics of faith, forgiveness, and friendship, along with other difficult subjects many people, but primarily women, grapple with.
For about two decades, Claypool has been a Christian/inspirational speaker and freelance journalist, formerly employed in TV broadcasting as a reporter for WTLW-TV 44 in Lima.
During one TV interview, three-time Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Kathy Troccoli told Claypool, “Secrets make you sick,” in response to a question about the need for healing of the internal struggles many people hide.
“Her statement about ‘secrets’ really hit home for me, especially since Ms. Troccoli is well-known as an advocate for the brokenhearted,” Claypool said. “As a writer, I began contemplating how I could author a book that might not only entertain readers of fiction, but which would provide a type of emotional and spiritual healing, as well.”
Claypool, who currently resides in Troy with her husband of 16 years, Larry, has several Christian recovery books to her publishing credit, along with publications in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and inspirational short stories through OakTara Publishers.
“I’ve written my whole life, but this is my first novel,” Claypool said. “I am more of a journalist. I had to study for years to even undo the journalism part of me. It’s difficult, but I think trained journalists make the best fiction writers because we’re concerned with research and accuracy. Have you ever been reading a book and they say they broke a bone, but you know that bone isn’t in that place in the body?”
Claypool said the urge to write a novel first materialized around 12 years ago.
“I had a passion for what they call ‘recovery work’ within the Christian church, addressing challenging, difficult issues in a nonfiction sort of way,” she said. “Then I realized that a lot of people are not going to read nonfiction recovery work. They’re not going to read a self-help book, but they’ll read fiction, and you can still address challenging problems through that.”
Some time passed after the idea took hold before writing began, and even then, Claypool said, the process was not hurried.
“I began writing over a decade ago, but I was only playing around with it. I would write a chapter or two, then put it on the shelf because I wrote other things all the time,” she explained.
“I was going to conferences and trying to learn about fiction because it is such a different genre. I didn’t have a lot of time either, so I’d dabble here and there. Then, about six or seven years ago, I got more serious and pounded out a rough draft, but didn’t really do anything with it for several more years. I just let it sit.
“It was definitely a rough draft, but it was all there. In 2014, I decided it was time to start really being in earnest and I pulled that rough draft out.”
In “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel,” Claypool specifically chose to write about a fictional ministry spouse as the main character.
“To me, the role of a pastor’s wife appears rather lonely and sometimes misunderstood, and if we are honest, many of us feel lonely and misunderstood on occasion,” she said.
“Most of all, there can be an inability to have close friendships due to the unrealistic expectation a pastor’s family should be Pinterest perfect,” Claypool said. “So, I decided to write a novel, not only for pastors’ wives or as an entertaining read, but for anyone trapped in the vicious cycle of having to wear a societal mask while grappling with hidden heartbreak.”
“I believe maintaining true friendships in our technological, social-media-driven society might be in jeopardy. This led me to create a fictional friendship between a pastor’s wife and a widowed coffee shop owner,” she said.
Though Claypool is now a dedicated person of faith, this wasn’t always so.
After what she describes as a childhood rife with “trauma,” as well as surviving a near-fatal suicide attempt as a teenager, Claypool faced years of continued hospitalization within mental institutions.
“I believe growing up in an unstable, dysfunctional environment was definitely one of the primary catalysts for the mental health struggle I battled,” Claypool said.
“I had gone through a lot of hard things in my life and I almost felt that God didn’t exist,” she said. “But, I really didn’t know. Then, through a process, I had come to know that there was true faith in Christ.
“When I realized God doesn’t necessarily orchestrate the circumstances in life — other human beings have free will — that helped me understand it wasn’t that God didn’t love me,” she said. “I started seeing that all the things I went through were a testimony that I had come through it all, and I could still have a good life, and that maybe I wasn’t broken past the point of repair.”
Claypool said it is her difficult past which has inspired her to be a guiding light to others, especially to those who find themselves in situations similar to her own.
“We are all broken continually, and we go through different things in life, so that’s why I write the way that I do, and that’s what the book is about,” she said.
“I hope people will be entertained by it. I hope they’ll enjoy it, but most of all I hope that somehow they’ll grow emotionally, spiritually, and that it will be healing for them, because life seems to me to be a continual process of loss and pain, and then joy and healing, so we never get to that point where we don’t need to grow spiritually and emotionally.”
Claypool’s novel was officially launched in late October, and one reviewer says it offers, “Healing and forgiveness…without being preachy,” despite addressing rather challenging issues.
It fits into the Christian/inspirational genre, even though it is written for an adult female demographic. It’s designed specifically to be used for inspirational book clubs and women’s church groups, since it is complete with discussion questions.
The book even includes a bonus novella about an inspiring hair stylist called, “Not Just Another Casserole Lady,” which also has group discussion questions.
“Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is available through all major online outlets including Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Cokesbury.com and Westbow Press and at local retail outlets, Piqua’s Readmore’s Hallmark Shop and Grace Christian Bookstore and in Troy at Jay and Mary’s Book Center and Around About Books.
If a local book club or public library decides to feature “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” as one of its reads, Claypool is available to attend and participate, schedule permitting.
For more information or for special bulk or book club pricing visit, www.christinaryanclaypool.com.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.