Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ask O: Why Christian Fiction

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends,

My new book, Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska, releases in a couple weeks—January 1. Woo hoo! My co-author Tricia Goyer and I are having a blast with the pre-launch activities. And it’s been fun refreshing my memory about the story and the characters.

As I ponder the emotional and spiritual themes, I’m brought back to the intense journey the story brought me through. As I related to my characters’ fears, failures, and victories, I wept and rejoiced with her, feeling her emotions deeply—as if my own.

And I was blessed. By her struggles, courage, growing faith, and by God's grace to her.

This reminded me of why I read Christian fiction. I often hear writing coaches say we write first and foremost to entertain. I understand where they’re coming from. I do. A book must grab my interest for me to persevere, but I turn to secular fiction if all want is a jolly ride. I crave Christian fiction for a deeper reason. Don’t you?

I love a good romance. And by good I mean, well, good. I delight in a romance where the man respects the woman. Where the heroine longs not just to be fulfilled, but to serve and love sacrificially. I want to read not only a sexually pure book (I want that, too), but also one that cherishes that bond beyond the trashy way the world views it. Also, commitment, loyalty, forgiveness—I value these things and I relish stories that embrace them as well. Don’t forget the best parts about romance are the parallels to God’s love for us.

As Christians we look at suffering differently than the world, don’t we? We know God doesn’t promise a perfect life. He promises something better—to be with us during every trial. We’ve all heard we must torture our protagonists. It’s true; a good story needs lots of conflict. What an opportunity we have to demonstrate God’s ever-present love through life’s struggles. When I see a heroine rescued by a tender loving Father, it resonates and I want to read more.

Some of my favorite books have enlightened me in some way. I’ll never forget the character in one of Francine Rivers’ novels who couldn’t move, but found her purpose in silent prayer. When I struggle with low-energy, that character comes back to mind, and I’m comforted that I’m just where God wants me. Isn’t that incredible? Can we do that as authors? Inspire readers to cling closer to Christ, to find healing in their journey? I pray so. (By the way, I once asked Francine Rivers how to write such inspirational stories and she said to bury yourself in the Word. Great advice!)
So, friends, let' make our stories so gripping they can’t stop reading, but let’s not forget this incredible opportunity we have. I know for me, I pick up a Christian fiction novel, not only to be entertained, but to be blessed as well.
How about you? What are some of your favorite Christian fiction novels and why? I'd love to hear.
God bless and happy writing,