Some years ago a man asked me what I did for a living. I told him I write Christian fiction. "Christian fiction?" His forehead creased. "I thought Christianity was all truth!"
Well, it's a good thing my Christian suspense novels aren't "all truth." 'Cause some bodaciously bad stuff happens in 'em.
The suspense genre in the Christian market has exploded in the past five or so years. Before that time, I think folks in the industry were scared of it. "How in the world are you supposed to mix the Good News with violence and terror? Agh!" Today not only can you find plenty of Christian suspense novels, you can take your pick from all manner of subgenres. And every month it seems a new Christian suspense author comes along.
The question is--why do I choose to write suspense? Why not romance, or historicals, or contemporaries--something a little easier on the nerves? My mother wonders this too. She thinks I'm getting more warped by the minute. She's probably right. My stories do tend to be . . . intense. But the truth is, I have an amazing, fun freedom in writing Christian suspense. I get to tell all sorts of scary stories--and inject the hope of God in them. That's the best of both worlds, if you ask me.
Truth is, we do live in an evil world. But the truth doesn't end there, thanks be to God. The truth ends with the fact that God's power can help us live, even be victorious, amid this evil. Not to say bad things don't happen to good people. They do--in real life, and in my books. It is to say that followers of Christ have been given the awesome authority to go before His throne and ask for help in times of trouble--even big, bad trouble. Especially big, bad trouble.
Lest you think I sound too much like a preacher--let me set you straight. I'm not one. My #1 job as a Christian novelist is not to preach. It's to write the best rollickin' story I possibly can. If I can get people caught up in my novel, if I can make 'em forget to b r e a t h e . . ., then I will earn a certain trust from them. And once I earn that trust, readers may be more likely to hear the message that's woven in. On the other hand, they may not. I know non Christians who love my books despite the spiritual thread. That's their prerogative. At least they're coming back for more.
In this blog I want to cover all sorts of aspects of Christian suspense, both for readers and writers. I want to talk frankly about some hard issues such as boundaries within the genre, dealing with people who disagree with what I write, meeting reader expectations, and the toughest part of all--writing the books. It is never an easy task for me. I'd like to tell you stories behind the stories--why I wrote certain books, where the premise came from, how the process unfolded. I may quote some reader letters--the good and the the bad ones. (Always anonymously, of course.) And since I teach fiction writing, I may even throw in a little of that now and then--as it applies to my genre. I'll be looking for feedback from you, so don't be shy in posting your comments.Question to leave you with, on this first blogging day. Why do you read Christian suspense? Or why don't you? What kind of changes within the genre would make you read it more? (Click on "comment" below to reply.)
Tomorrow--a look at how my daily life is effected by the stories I write.