So, we are starting a book club and were deciding on books. We all agreed we did not want any doctrinal books, but then the one lady said she did not want any Christian fiction either. i did pick out a couple that are not the typical "Christian fiction" types..... and at least one is on the list. Have you run into this often? People tend to think of christian fiction as either badly written books, not controversial enough, or too preachy.... What things do you do to combat that?
I started out writing non-fiction, and frankly had a rather snobbish view of Christian fiction. I can remember thinking, "Humpf! Those fiction writers are just making up stories. I'm writing biblical truths." Then I went to a fiction class at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference - and did the Lord ever convict me! The workshop leader made the statement that fiction writers can embed God's truth in a more palatable manner perhaps than a non-fiction that might tend to be preachy. He said that some people will never pick up a non-fiction Christian book, but might pick up a novel.
About the same time I came across a published genealogy of my family who were French Huguenots in the 17th century who fled the persecution of Louis XIV's Catholic government. And I wanted to tell the story. That led to a contract with Thomas Nelson publishing for my "Darkness to Light" series. Book #1 is "In The Shadow of the Sun King," Book #2 "A Prisoner of Versailles," and the concluding book in that series "Where Hearts Are Free" was just released this fall.
I'm told my novels are a bit grittier than most Christian novels. I don't know about that, but I do try to bring reality to my stories and embed God's redemption through them.
What things do you do to combat this lady's attitude toward Christian fiction? Simply exposure to some of the excellent fiction that is out there.
Wow oh Wow!! Those ladies must be out of the Christian Fiction loop recently! We read many, many books and there are very few that are 'preachy'. Most of the novels are in this genre because they are family friendly ((no cussing, no gross subjects for the most part and no graffic love scenes)). Also, I love the fact that there IS a thread of God throughout the story, as well as lots of reminders of the way God wants us to live and love.
I think your ladies need to give some of these books a chance. Maybe they can start with a bood named 'Seaside Letters' by Denise Hunter. We just finished this book last month and I believe all the ladies enjoyed it. Another great book we read is titled 'Havah' by Tosca Lee --fantastic book!!
I started writing Christian fiction because I wanted to use story telling as a teaching tool. The problem I ran into was that the stories available were so preachy and sappy that I knew that many would feel like the women in this group. We live in a world filled with action adventure movies, special effects, and high-tech games. In the spirit of Jesus the story teller who told stories that people of His day could understand and identify with, I wanted to weave the wisdom of the Bible into a fantasy, action story that is not only suspenseful, but is also a bit dark. While “Beyond the Dead Forest” is a YA novel it, like Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, is enjoyed by adults as well. I have heard people say, “I have never read anything quite like it before.”
Like I tried to express before, being a Christian writer is like being a Feminist writer--the writing is assumed to be one sided and single focused. Why not write like a classical author: Dickens, Hardy, Shakespeare, Mallory, etc. etc. they were all Christians who wrote great literature. This is what I try to do, I write novels, and I am a Christian. I do not try to write works that appeal only to Christians or that present a Christian moral or teaching. The themes of my writing are generally redemptive, but they are classically themed. Like I mentioned, I write secular novels that a Christian would want to share with their secular friends. You can see examples of my writing at www.pilotlion.blogspot.com or at www.ldalford.com You can find my novels at most book sellers: Centurion, Aegypt, The Second Mission, The End of Honor, The Fox's Honor, A Season of Honor.
I so agree with you. It seems to me that much of what one finds in the CBA is "preaching to the choir." Of course, I suppose there is a place for that if one wants the comfort of a gentle read, but if furthering the kingdom is the goal, shouldn't we address the sticky issues that confront mankind and show how God can redeem? It seems to me that we must take a hard look at this as writers in the Christian arena.
Interestingly, discussions on this topic, once exhausted, normally lead to the next logical topic: how to accomplish the philosphical end state. There's a very wide spectrum of opinion as to how Christian literature to should appear to the world as versus how wordly it should be. Some of those discussions have already appeared on this site; e.g., use of profanity, sexual-sensual depictions, how graphic scenes containing troubling images should be. In my experience, most of those opinions are derived from our reading preferences, which then bleed over into our writing styles. What's annoying to me is when we assume our own taste in style is, or should be, everybody else's, too. Fortunately, that nuance hasn't appeared in this thread.
It's easy to use descriptors like "poorly written" and "preachy," but it's not as easy to drop specific cases into those bins and gain consensus on the results. We write for readers, not for other writers (usually). Who we write for determines how overt or obscure the Christian message appears. Is writing overt Christian stories for other Christians really "preaching to the choir" or is it edifying the body of Christ through fiction? Is writing a story with a barely recognizable Christian-based theme copping out and becoming wordly, or is it outreach to those who wouldn't otherwise touch our genre (or at least who we assume wouldn't)?
Our writing, like our speaking, is an extension of our own values. Therefore, there will always exist very divergent camps of opinion in style and content, because, even with the body of Christ, there are very divergent camps on which dogma are most important, and which are not as important. Like worship style, we tend to uplift our own and sometimes, unfortunately, deride others who don't follow suit.
So, I guess I believe there's room for each of these styles--and all the ones in between--because there's an equally divergent readership looking to us for their entertainment, edification, etc. Decide who to write for and write for them.
One thing I find I really want, out of any book, is a point that I can relate to....and a lesson learned from the thing I relate to.
So, if I am a Christian, I don't want to read a book about someone who is very bitter and ends the book still depressed, suicidal with no hope, moving from relationship to relationship with no hope...
I guess that is difference I feel between an Christian author and a non-Christian book, the ones have hope in similar situations, even if the end result is not good still.
I enjoy reading old fiction too, though.....it is not Christian or at least not sold as that....but it takes brains to read it. It is not "empty fiction", even if there is no preaching, but like I think of one of my favorites...."Keeper of the Bees" by Gene S. Porter....It addresses hope, the meaning of life, pre-martial sex, treatment of veterans, bullying among other things....yet, I have no idea if the author was a Christian.
I just want to read a book that has substance, most of the time.....and don't like it that it seems to be judged by its genre....
Yes Bruce, however, it's the existing line-in-the-sand that only limit the possibilities. Right from wrong, good in contrast to evil, God's Light and the opposite darkness need to be universally understood for everyone to find the answers to what ails the world of man. Everyone needs to know that the answers to everything can only be found in Christ. When a book is labeled Christian, it at least infers that it is for Christians only; a perception created that mostly leaves out those who need it the most. As true Christians we should first lead by Christ’s example, and our work(s) should be self-evident without the label if we ever hope to make a difference.
I agree--well said. I wrote a memoir which I think is very spiritual and actually shows the path toward my spirituality through some impossible odds, but because I said "hell" or "damn" on occassion to fit the place I was in at that time, it would probably be rejected as Christian writing --and that's a shame, because it has changed the lives and thinking of so many people--that was its pupose.
If you're looking for a Christmas story for your group that's anything but traditional Christian fiction... here is a shameless promotional review from TitleTrakk.com
The Reluctant Journey of David Connors by Don Locke
Reviewed by Heather R. Hunt
Just in time for Christmas comes "Tonight Show" artist’s Don Locke's debut novel The Reluctant Journey of David Connors. Following in the steps of traditional holiday favorites "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol," David Connors' journey begins the week before Christmas when he ascends to the roof of his high-rise office building and prepares to end his life. But as he teeters on the edge, an old lump of carpetbag catches his attention. When he reaches for it, they both tumble off to plummet 40 stories - into a deep, fluffy snowbank.
Connors begins to wonder whether the carpetbag has anything to do with his survival and decides to take it with him. His suspicions are first doused then aroused when he returns to his car to find a policeman writing him a ticket. But it's too close to Christmas and the policeman still doesn't have the antique gift his wife wants. Connors opens the carpetbag and pulls out an old cameo brooch - exactly what the policeman needs. Presto chango. No ticket. Connors is still unconvinced, but when he crosses paths with a troubled woman, and the bag produces exactly what she needs, the two set off on an unpredictable physical and emotional journey in which they unwittingly - and sometimes unwillingly - help each other uncover their respective skeletons in the closet.
Locke's story has all the elements of a great holiday tale, including a rumbling train with a charming scene set in the dining car (though no one breaks into song as in the famous scene from another holiday classic, "White Christmas"); an unusual town by the tracks that doesn't seem to be on any map; a young boy in search of a balsa wood glider; children in a Christmas pageant; memories of childhoods past; mysterious yet benevolent bums who end up making good (angels in disguise?); and long lost loves returning if only for a moment and only for a memory.
As Connors' pieces together the fleeting pictures of his past, readers begin to understand why he has buried one incident in particular. We sympathize with both Connors' and his mother as all the details are finally revealed. There are no bad guys here. Just well-intentioned loved ones who nevertheless cause longstanding harm. But facing the truth with a fellow traveler at the season of the year when the Truth came to earth brings healing and renewal to those on the journey and to those they love. Merry Christmas indeed! God still blesses everyone!