We've been having some interesting discussions in the Lost Genre Guild about what it means to be a Christian writer. Does it mean limiting your works to those that are purposely focused on the Lord and His Message? Or can we, like carpenters and electricians and even factory workers, still be following His will for us by simply honing our talents and keeping true to our convictions whether we're writing a Biblically-based romance or a techno-thriller that may or may not have obviously Christian characters or themes?
As you can imagine, the opinion varied according to one's experiences. It really is a personal choice, so my answer today is not a statement of how it should be, but how it seems to have worked for me.
My motto is "fiction, faith and fun," yet I never intended to be labeled as a Christian writer. For the first part of my career, my works were predominantly secular--and I still think of most of my writing that way. The fact that there are Christian or Catholic characters is not usually a conscious choice; and when it is, it's often because the character demands it or because it makes for an interesting twist.
My DragonEye, PI, character is a good example. I wanted a dragon character--and what's a dragon without a St. George? Well, wouldn't it be fun if instead of killing him, George converted him--or at least compelled his obedience… Before I knew it, Vern the dragon was not only attending Catholic Mass but had a nun for a partner. I've written several stories with them and have their first book, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem coming in early 2009 by Swimming Kangaroo.
Then there's the Rescue Sisters world my husband Rob and I created. We just thought it'd be fun to have nuns in space--no real message except the understanding that humankind won't outgrow religion. Those stories led us to create Leaps of Faith, a Christian sci-fi anthology; and Infinite Space, Infinite God--an anthology of thought provoking science fiction with a Catholic twist. ISIG came out in August by Twilight Times Books and Leaps of Faith is coming Summer 2008 from The Writers' Café Press.
The Writers' Café Press is a Christian publisher, but both ISIG and Magic, Mensa and Mayhem are being published by secular publishers. (In fact, the publishers at Swimming Kangaroo are atheists.) I'm neither proud of not surprised by this, really. I write for fantasy/sci fi readers. Well, not even that, really. I write for the characters and for me. And who it impresses, I leave to God.
What has surprised and impressed me, however, is how God has used my writing. I've been told both in reviews and personal letters how touched people are by the expressions of faith in the storesin Infinite Space, Infinite God. I've also been told how the stories have not only challenged people to think about their faith. One mother said every Christian teen should read this book because the stories examined issues they would face in the future, while a Catholic mom told me her daughter found answers to some of her faith questions in the stories. Rob and I compiled ISIG for fun; the only "educational" value we thought it had was in the introductions, but people are being touched--mind and soul--by the stories themselves.
So where do I stand on the "Christian writing" issue? I am a Catholic Christian. I am a writer. They are a part of my identity. They mix when they mix, but I won't limit my writing to only Catholic works any more than I'd limit my worship to only writing. I craft my words as well as I can, then get them to readers in whatever venue God brings my way. I trust that if I have done my best, God will make sure they get to the right hands--and He'll surprise me in the process.