Wednesday, August 09, 2006
A Comment From Yesterday
In yesterday’s comments, Becky (who often manages to say the most provocative things) noted this:
I guess I'm destined to be the fly in the ointment. I thought he said wonderful things about your writing, Brandilyn, but I would have had a disappointing reaction to his ability to look past the God references. So I want to know, how did you react to those lines in the review?
I was intrigued by the question because it had never entered my mind in the slightest to be bothered by those lines. For two reasons.
1. Violet Dawn is not heavy with Christian content. It’s probably my “lightest” novel regarding a spiritual thread. The story just didn’t drive a heavier spiritual thread—and I don’t ever want to force such a thing. The protagonist is not a Christian and knows little of God. And the whole main action takes place in only about 14 hours. Not long enough for the protagonist to have a believable heavy character arc (especially given all that’s going on) toward Christ. In this type of story all I can do is lead the character from point A to point B. To make her realize that maybe there’s something to this God that she needs to look into.
So when I read those “look past God references” lines, I just figured it’s because there aren’t as many of them to begin with. Contrast this novel with, say, Dead of Night—probably the heaviest of my novels regarding Christian content. I don’t know that this Violet Dawn reviewer could have gotten through Dead of Night. That story drove a strong Christian thread about how God uses the prayers of His people to fight evil. Someone who really chooses to believe God doesn’t work in that way, or perhaps doesn’t exist at all, would find it difficult to enjoy that book, I think.
I heard an interesting remark from someone who’s read Violet Dawn and my other novels. She said she liked Violet Dawn better because it had less spiritual content—a content that seemed normal--while in all my other novels, that content was “forced.” I was fascinated with that viewpoint, since I so completely disagree with it. But that reader was coming at my books from her own experiences (all readers bring their unique set of experiences to a book, which is why reading is so subjective). She’s outside of the church and hasn’t been in a long day-to-day walk with Christ. So to her, to read a book like Dead of Night, in which God urges a Christian to drop everything and pray against evil—she just couldn’t get that. It’s out of her experience, so to her, such a scene is “forced.”
Admittedly my insistence on allowing the amount of Christian content to grow from the story makes for a wide variance as to amount of spiritual thread from one novel to the next. But I really think that natural growth from plot is the way to go. The second book in the Kanner Lake series, Coral Moon, has much more Christian content in it. It has to, given the strange bent that story ended up taking. So maybe some readers such as this reviewer who liked Violet Dawn may not like Coral Moon at all. May even get ticked off at it. May figure it’s too much “God stuff” to wade through.
Which leads me to reason #2—the stronger of the two reasons, in my mind.
2. People overlook what they want to overlook all the time. We humans can stare truth in the face and deny it. So in the end, whether a novel has lots of Christian content or little, if a person insists on reading past the “God references” because he/she absolutely has decided not to believe, I’m not going to be able to change that.
Bottom line, what I found most impressive about this review of Violet Dawn--regardless of whether the guy liked the novel or not--is that he took the time to read my Web site, including my story of healing, clearly saw from all that’s written there that I would approach this novel with a Christian worldview that he does not share, and yet still read the book with an open mind as to the suspense story itself.
How about you, BGs? If you had such an “overlook” line in a review of your novel, would it bother you?