“Oh, I never read ‘Christian’ fiction. It doesn’t hold my interest.”
Being an author of Christian fiction, I was surprised to hear this comment from an avid reader at a recent book signing. I winced, but recognized an opportunity to spread some good news.
What this reader, like many who haven’t tried Christian fiction lately, didn’t realize is that things have really changed over the past few years. Today Christian fiction is one of the fastest-growing fiction markets. I guarantee the broad selection of top titles will hold your interest.
The popular staples of “sweet romance” and “a slice of Christian life” that once dominated the market are still available, but more and more book proposals dealing with contemporary issues are being purchased by big publishing houses anxious to acquire them.
The first sign that Christian fiction would eventually break away from the safe and simple stories that launched the genre was in the mid-1990s with a book written by Francine Rivers called Redeeming Love. A novel patterned after the biblical book of Hosea. The story of a man who marries a prostitute.
Wildly successful, the book is still in print today. But writing an allegory about the book of Hosea was a benign harbinger of what was to come. Today’s latest releases deal with such weighty topics as alcoholism, sexual abuse, and divorce. All from the pens of Christian authors who feel God has called them to write. Divine, What She Left for Me, and Watching the Tree Limbs are good examples.
Though at first such themes might make one a bit uneasy, a look through the pages of some of today’s bestselling books reveals compelling stories about real people facing real issues. Yes, the subjects are difficult, but readers will find a message of hope and faith because the stories are written from a Christian worldview, showing God’s unceasing love bringing light into the darkest hour.
Other groundbreaking books like Allah’s Fire, The Winds of Sonoma, and In the Shade of the Jacaranda, deal with contemporary issues like terrorism, illegal immigration, and abortion.
But lest you think Christian fiction is delving only into the deep and thought provoking, I’m happy to report that new trails are being blazed with stories that showcase the challenges of life confronting singles, moms, and seniors, with funny, upbeat tales that will make you laugh out loud. In 2004 Kristen Billerbeck launched What a Girl Wants. A funny, smart, and sassy novel written in first person, about a successful single attorney. Unique in style and tone, it captured the attention of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, New York Times, and even USA Today. All the buzz sparked the birth of a new genre for the Christian market, now called Chick Lit. And it wasn’t long after that that niche audiences were targeted and other humorous stories written in first person arrived on the scene. They came to be referred to as Mom Lit, Lady Lit, and those with senior characters, Hen Lit. Or the multi-cultural Asian Lit and Chica Lit.
If contemporary issues, comedy, or straight women’s fiction don’t give you a broad enough selection . . . how about suspense? Strap on your seatbelt and don’t forget to breathe if you choose Brandilyn Collins’ first book in her just-released Kanner Lake Series, Violet Dawn. Not quite right? Want a combination of suspense and political intrigue? Try Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy.
Still looking? Perhaps consider the Christy Award–winning time-travel novel, Transgression, by Randy Ingermanson.
There’s something for everyone. You’ll find that today’s Christian fiction is neither preachy nor pious, and the message is always that God is in control, using our circumstances, no matter what they are, to reveal His great love for us. If you want to read about new releases and some of your favorite Christian authors, watch for this column every month. If you’ve read a fabulous novel on a unique subject, let me know and I’ll spread the word. Just type “Column” in the subject line and send me an e-mail at Nikki@nikkiarana.com.
|About the Author:
Nikki Arana is an award-winning author living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She is the recipient of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for Women’s Fiction, The Beacon Award, nd the Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year Award.