I have always been a reluctant reader of Christian fiction. At least, the kind of fiction that touted itself as Christian. I read for entertainment, for learning; I want to be immersed and I want to experience. I don’t need gratuitous violence or sex but I do look for unadulterated, uncensored real life grit. And, I wasn’t finding it in Christian fiction.
I figured I wasn’t the only one, so I Googled the subject. I carefully sorted because I wasn’t looking for Christian-bashing, and came up with a few themes and comments from anonymous bloggers:
•A preponderance of shallow and obvious tales of morality
•Preach vs. entertain and allow the reader to learn
Too much of what passes for Christian writing is badly-written morality plays under another guise, and most of us don’t read them because we don’t like being preached at.
•Too much emphasis put on reading Christian authors because they are Christian authors
Too many people think because what they write has a “Christian theme” that Christians should buy it, even when the writing is really horrible, the plots contrived, and Deux [sic] Ex Machina reigns supreme.
•Acceptance of less than skilled writing, as long as it is “Christian,” by the Christian book industry
I’d rather read a good book (my definition) by anyone than a bad one by a “Christian” author.
The ranting of wild folks? Since I have experienced all the above (and don’t believe I am a wild folk!), I’d say they merely represent the feeling of an audience who demands good literature. Novel concept, eh?
After much reflection (not to mention guilt) about Christian literature, one day I experienced an epiphany . . . my reluctance stems from disappointing experiences—the story has a good premise, the introduction is riveting, I am seduced by the protagonist and then WHAM, predictability! Where is all the gritty description and action, the controversy? Contrived situations and problems with nice neat answers don’t engage readers.
I blame the lack of description, action, imagery on the book industry and on the authors who feel they have no option but to conform. With policies such as those adhered to by the CBA, there is no wonder that much of the ‘literature’ is watered down and shallow—reasonable attempts to show realism in life are taboo.
A current title of The Writers’ Café Press will be the antithesis of all that is lacking in too much Christian fiction. Light at the Edge of Darkness is one book that will help turn the tide of mediocrity—it will demonstrate that Biblical speculative fiction can entertain at the same time as being solidly grounded in Scripture. It will fit the criteria of “good Biblical Speculative fiction” first and foremost.
Light at the Edge of Darkness: release date February 2007