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May 10, 2024

Christine Hayek: Writing Charbel

May 10, 2024
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This week, we sit down with Christine Hayek, writer of Saint Charbel, to discuss her process, craft, and Saint Charbel!

How did you first find out about Saint Charbel?

Christine Hayek: Being a part of the Lebanese community, I have known about Saint Charbel for as long as I can remember!

What's something you learned about Saint Charbel during the writing process?

CH: I learned about his human side—his upbringing, his family. I knew more about Saint Charbel the miracle worker and less about Youssef the man.

What's one lesson you hope listeners can take away from your series?

CH: You don’t have to live an extraordinary life to be a saint. Saint Charbel was a peasant from Lebanon. He was a hermit who lived much of his life in solitude.  Every single moment in his life, no matter how small, simple, or seemingly unimportant, was lived out and dedicated to God. He found God in everyone and everything.

Why did you decide to write about St. Charbel?

CH: Saint Charbel means so much to me, my family, and my community. I want people to know about this special saint. He has more miracles attributed to him than any other saint in the world and these miracles do not discriminate between Christians and Muslims, people of different faiths and different walks of life. He is well known in Lebanon and across the Middle East, but I feel he is now just starting to be known to the West.  A lot of Western Christians don’t know Christians exist in the Middle East. Nor do a lot of my Roman Catholic friends know that the Catholic church has many beautiful rites. There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about this region. Of course we exist! We’re the first Christians. I wanted to introduce the audience to this world and Eastern Catholicism.

How did you first begin writing?

CH: A few of my professors during my college days asked me if I had any interest in writing. As a Middle Eastern Christian, I had this voice that was unique to my experiences and I had a lot of things to say and introduce to people, and that intrigued them. But it wasn’t until I was working on my sample submissions for graduate school years later that I truly took a chance and began writing.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

CH: Write what you care about. It will resonate more with your audience. Also, the writing process can be slow and excruciating, especially when dealing with your inner critic. You have to fight through it, and writing about something you care about makes the result all the better and more rewarding.

Christine Hayek is a Lebanese-American writer based in Massachusetts. Christine worked behind the scenes on films before shifting her focus to writing. She received an MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen at The Institute of Art and Design at New England College (formerly NHIA). Her work seeks to introduce Middle Eastern stories and to convey the diversity and rich culture of the region.

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