Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Awhile ago, a friend posed a couple of questions to a group of writers for a workshop she was preparing, based upon something she’d heard asked at a conference, “If Jesus asked you to write a book but warned you that, once it was written, He would then tell you to put that manuscript in a drawer, never to see print, would you write it?”

Intriguing question. As a Christian novelist, do I write for Jesus or do I write for money? Is this my ministry or is this my vocation? Yes. Both. All. And therein lies the struggle.

The aforementioned friend then asked two specific questions, included below with my answers.

Why do I write for the Christian market? Ministry, entertainment, or both?

It is both for me. I wrote 30 books in the general mass market, and God very specifically called me out of that career and into a new one of writing for Him. But my goal is always to entertain my readers. I am not writing them a sermon. I am telling them a story that, hopefully, will also reveal some truth to them.

What do I consider the criteria for a book to be considered “Christian”?

A book can be inspirational and/or educational and/or the best book you’ve ever read without the author naming the name of Christ anywhere between its pages. It can certainly be fiction that is informed by a biblical worldview. But I believe that to be called “Christian fiction,” a novel should name His name (in a way that brings honor) somewhere between the covers. 

However, there is a very wide field to play on under the banner of Christian fiction. And naming His name does not mean being preachy or heavy handed. “Gratuitous Christianity” is bad writing just as gratuitous violence and gratuitous sex and gratuitous whatever are bad writing. The Christian plot thread must be an integral part of the story just as any other plot thread must be.

Years ago, the Christy Award web site contained the following excellent definition of Christian fiction:

“Good fiction, whether or not it is identified as Christian, will provide a memorable reading experience that captures the imagination, inspires, challenges, and educates. Fiction published for the Christian book market does not include the gratuitous demonstration of sin—whether language, violence, sexual situations, or the more hidden sins of idolatry and self-worship. Credible characters in a fallen world, of course, will sin. But the Christian novel’s presentation of the grit and grime of human circumstance will not be done for its own sake or to titillate, but to point the reader toward hope, toward God.

“Because the essence of Christianity is a relationship with God, a Christian novelists’ well-conceived story will in some way, whether directly or indirectly, add insight to the reader’s understanding of life, of faith, of the Creator’s yearning over His creation.”

I hope that the above definition is true of every book I write, including my latest novel, The Heart’s Pursuit, an Old West adventure novel with two wounded souls in need of redemption.

Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher—author of over 70 books—is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She and her husband make their home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat). You can learn more about Robin and her books by visiting her web site at http://www.robinleehatcher.com. Links to her social media pages can be found at the top of her site.


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