- Written from a Christian world view
- Story offers hope
- Core of the story shows importance of faith in Christ
Similar to the things you all wrote in your comments (thought I think your responses went far deeper.) But I was also peppered with the following:
- It's safe
- It doesn't challenge the status quo
- It doesn't leave anything unsettled, everything's resolved
- Quality doesn't match that of ABA fiction
- Easy answers
- Doesn't make readers think
- Affirms readers beliefs and perspective
Notice a trend here? Now, before you get upset or think these folks are totally out of touch, let me point out that this view of the reader comes most often from what we hear from retailers rather than from the readers themselves. And, be honest now, there are some readers who fit those descriptions. But even more don't.
So listening to what was said, writing down their definitions on the white board, I came to a conclusion. I turned to those gathered and offered the following: "You really don't like this consumer much, do you?"
No response. But I could tell that, indeed, they weren't crazy about this person. This simplistic non-thinker who only wants books that offer a kind of pablum to the masses determined to hide in their safe churches and faith, never questioning, never facing real life.
Can't say I blame them, can you? I wouldn't care much for that kind of person, either. But here's the thing: I don't know many Christians like that. And I sure haven't met many readers like that. From the reader letters I get, it's clear those who read Christian fiction are looking for books that not only make them think, but that challenge them--even PUSH them--to go beyond themselves and what they think they know. In the letters and emails I receive from my readers, I've found people who are facing life's ambiguities and inequities full-force. Yes, they long for something to give them answers. But even more than that, they long for something to tell them, quite simply and honestly, they're not alone. They're not the only Christian out there who:
Wrestles with God and living a life of faith in an insane and hostile world
Doesn't appreciate easy or pat answers
Wants to KNOW God. Intimately. Even when it's scary or uncomfortable or painful. Which, as anyone who's walked a hard path knows, it is. Often.
Cool thing, though, about that workshop discussion is that it didn't end there. In fact, it led us all deeper. And I'll tell you how and where.
In a minute.
First, I want to know who you think today's Christian fiction reader is? Why do you think s/he reads fiction? What are you hearing from the readers around you about the books they're reading? And, if you care to share, what novel have you read lately that lived up to your expectations?
So share your thoughts...and stay tuned for Part 3.