by Michelle Sutton
I first met Christa Ann Banister online after reading her novel Around the World in 80 Dates: Confessions of a Christian Serial Dater. I wrote her to tell her how much I enjoyed her characters, and we struck up a friendship.
I found Christa to be very open and personable. From there we became Facebook friends and started playing Scrabulous together. (I’m hopelessly addicted.) And because she didn’t beat me every single game, I grew more fond of her until we started talking about my book and her new release. Thus I was able to get an awesome sneak peek of Blessed Are the Meddlers, and I endorsed it, as well. She is one talented writer.
In addition to possessing a funny, whip-smart pen, Christa has the gift of gab. Here are some entertaining facts about my friend.
She talks. And talks. And she keeps on talking.
Maybe this is in part what separates her from the mighty throng (or small army) of chick-lit writers working today, other than the fact that her dynamite debut novel, Around the World in 80 Dates and its follow-up Blessed Are the Meddlers have already created a tidal wave of underground buzz.
That’s right. After years of working as a respected music and movie critic and freelance writer for various Christian publications—CCM Magazine, Crosswalk.com, Christian Single, ChristianityToday.com, not to mention kickstarting the inaugural Christian music blog for MTV’s Urge.com—Christa has inked two novels about erstwhile adventures in dating, and she hopes that her story will inspire countless twenty- and thirty-somethings in their quest for snagging Mr. Right, even as they hold fast to their Christian values.
Inspired by authors Judy Blume and Jane Austin and a host of other writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and C.S. Lewis, Christa tells the tale of Sydney Alexander, a gal who is not shy about life, her faith, or her career as a travel writer. Yet finding her lifelong soul mate proves to be a bit more elusive than she originally thought.
“In a lot of chick-lit books, it seems like the girl’s ultimate goal is to get the guy,” Christa says. “And she wants to get the guy for sure, but she’s very ambitious as well, and she loves life and is willing to try all kinds of different adventures—all without letting go of her Christian values.”
And in answer to the question of whether this romantic roller coaster is fact or fiction, Christa plays coy: “I’ll have to be honest and say that the experiences that Sydney, the lead character, goes through in the book are very similar to experiences that I’ve had in the past. And of course I had to protect the guilty, so I changed a few names and a few situations, but some situations were inspired by actual events.”
The thrust of the book? “Not settling for less than what God has for you,” Christa says. “As you’ll notice throughout the book, Sydney dates a lot of different people, and most of the
time she knows that they’re not the best choice, but she learns things from the situations, and ultimately she doesn’t settle in anything that she does. She is a person who is committed to sharing her faith with others.”
Christa is quick to add, though, that her book is not heavy theology by any stretch. “I want people to have fun reading it. Not everything has to be so serious. I mean, Sydney likes to shop. She name drops some of the brands that she likes. She talks about movies and entertainment and the things that we all know and experience, and I want people to be able to laugh and just have a good time reading it, kind of in the same way that I did when I read Bridget Jones’ Diary or The Devil Wears Prada, albeit with a Christian twist.”
In the end, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers are novels full of pluck, wit, and humor, and it is a shoo-in to become classics for any guy or girl who is in the throes of navigating the pitfalls and quirks of the single life, all without letting go of what they believe.
“Oh, definitely girls in college and maybe even girls out of college will be able to relate with all of the things that Sydney is going through. Guys, too. Basically anyone who has ever been single or gone on a bad date will be able to relate to this book.”
Or in other words, anyone on the planet.
In some ways,” she adds, “it is a how-to manual of what to do and what not to do in terms of dating.”
And with that, Christa stops talking. And almost as an afterthought, she adds with a winning smile: “Everyone should read it.”
Christa lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband, Will. They love to play Scrabble and throw darts on a map and dream about someday going wherever the darts land.
They have no pets.
And until her book hits the New York Times best-seller list, Christa is happily employed as a freelance writer for her many, many clients.