I’m deep in conversation over on Facebook with various of my coreligionist book lovers. The question of the moment is whether or not it is time for Christian Fiction to die.
I’m politely trying to retain friendships and acquaintanceships–how unlike me–so i’m not saying what I am most burning to say, which is “you mean it’s not dead already?!”
Last year somebody within the CBA (Christian Booksellers’ Association) got wise to the fact that free books on the Kindle stay at the top of the “bestsellers” list, and are eagerly downloaded. Even though something which is given away is not technically “sold” and to my mind does not even BELONG on a list of things which have sold well. Nevertheless it was de rigueur last summer and fall to put backlist Christian Fiction titles on the Kindle for free in hopes that newcomers would be lulled into continuing the series for cash money.
I read about a dozen of those books. In no case did I have the remotest of desires to pay for continued play. In many cases I didn’t even make it past page 89–my cutoff for a book I’m not enjoying. I have to be honest and say that in some the writing was no worse than in the various Mass Market paperbacks you can get in the mainstream world. Pretty standard light-reading fare.
But those Christian Books cost at least double–sometimes triple–because of the Jesus factor.
Since when is Christianity about spending more to get less? About being lesser copies of what the world has to offer? Aren’t we supposed to shine and add savour?
I still cling to C.S. Lewis’ train of thought about needing fewer Christian books and more Christian authors of mainstream books. Everything I write is mainstream. My theory is that by enjoying my work and spending time in my worlds the readers will see Christianity as a thing that changes your inner life, gives you hope.
One of the greatest Christian characters in any work of fiction that I’ve ever read was actually created by an atheist. Father Philip in The Pillars of The Earth is Ken Follet’s picture of the type of Christian who lives by the book. Philip has one or two blind spots–as all humans must–but he strives to live a Christ-centered life. Readers come away from that book with a positive picture of what Christianity can accomplish.
Why can’t Christians write books like that? Oh, right. We can.