Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Booked for the Holidays - Angela Hunt's Philosophy

Booked for the Holidays

What makes a book a "Christian book"? What types of books should believers be reading -- and writing? This is a question that can stir debate among readers quicker than you can open the book in question.

As I feature Angela Hunt's incredible and thought-provoking book, The Face, this week, I thought I might open this can of worms explore this a bit and tell you Angie's philosophy and calling as she writes her books.

Back in March on her blog, Angie announced that God had opened some doors for some new opportunities, and that while she isn't changing, her external book appearances and placement will be. I'll let her explain:
". . .when I wrote my first novel, Afton of Margate Castle, I was writing for the world at large, not specifically to a Christian audience. Because I'm a believer in Christ, my Christian values are part of my stories, but in that first book I wasn't attempting to cater to a believing readership.

"And then I learned that since I was writing for Christian publishers whose books were sold in Christian bookstores (which only a small fraction of professing Christians ever actually patronize), maybe I should try to gear my writing to a specific audience. So I did change my focus a bit. I wrote about "Christian problems"--legalism, how we cope with suffering, when we rebel against God's sovereign will, how we should deal with bioethical issues, etc.

"But still, my tendency has always been to write parables--stories that work as a story on one level, but have an underlying spiritual message. Jesus taught in parables, so it it worked for Him . . . .

"Since my salad days, I've written both kinds of books--books geared more for Christians (the Fairlawn books would fall into this category, also The Debt) and books geared more for the world at large. The first category usually features a believing protagonist who is struggling to live out her faith in the world, just as we all are. The second category usually features an agnostic character who either comes to faith or deals with faith elements in an allegorical way (The Elevator; The Face, The Awakening, etc.)

"I'll be honest--it always makes me grimace when someone reviews one of my parable books online and chides me for not being "Christian enough." The elements are there, but they have been carefully laid beneath the obvious story. And writers are all different, and we all write the stories the Lord has given us.

". . ...my desire has always been to get my stories out to the world. My editors--whom I trust-- have recently decided to move me into another Harlequin imprint--one that is not aimed at the Christian market.

"Please understand--my books are not changing. My style, my messages, my high-concept plots will all remain the same (and boy, do I have a dilly of a plot planned next!). But in [August] The Elevator [was] released as a Mira title in "mass market" format--the smaller size paperback that you see in bookstores, at the grocery store, and in Wal-Mart. The Face [was released November 1] in the same format. Same novel, different size. Different imprint.

". . .if you hear that I have "crossed over" and left my Christian stories behind, know that nothing could be further from the truth. I've not sold out, wigged out, or burned out. I'm just moving into a new and uncharted (ahem) area.

"I'm a little thrilled to think that my stories will be on the racks with stories of mayhem and who-knows-what-all. I hope they don't get lost, and I hope my readers will track them down. I have never had a grand career plan with long-term goals. I have always approached this writing thing one contract at a time, writing the stories God either gave me or sent my way. And I know that God doesn't make mistakes, so this is His will and His perfect timing.

"So, hang with me, will you? My Fairlawn books will still finish up with Tyndale; nothing's changing there. But if you see The Elevator or The Face in a spinning rack with books that may not be your first choice, don't be stunned, be excited! I certainly am."

Source: A Life in Pages, March, 2008, Used by Permission

I, for one, am so excited for Angie. And for the individual - who would never step foot in the "Christian Fiction" aisle or bookstore - who is perusing the "racks of mayhem and who-knows-what-all" and happens across her book. Additionally, while I certainly read and enjoy my share of purely Christian fiction books, they are not ones that I would usually feel comfortable recommending to a non-believer because they are far too saturated with church-speak. (BTW, later this week I'll be reviewing a book for CFBA that generated some controversy but that I think is perfect for non-believers.)

The Face has a thought-provoking Discussion Guide in the back of the book for general book clubs. For those individuals who wish to use it for their Christian book club,s they can find a different Discussion Guide here.

So if you are looking for a gift for a non-believing friend, The Face would be an excellent choice, providing a basis for some great conversations betwen you and your friend.

Don't forget to leave a comment on Monday's post by Thursday at 12 Noon CDT for a chance to win one of 3 copies of The Face!


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4 comments:

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

I know this is a big source of contention in the church, but I think that Christians should be informed about what is being read. For instance, boycotting books and movies like The Golden Compass just adds to the hype. We should carefully and thoughtfully educate ourselves so that we can intelligently talk to believers and non-believers alike about aspects of the media that do not follow a biblical worldview.

Putting our heads in the sand and ignoring what is out there is not what it means to be in the world but not of the world.

Xandra

Christina said...

I am going to check this one out. I have someone this might be perfect for. I am glad her books are mainstreaming, not the material, but the actual book. I see Kingsbury's books all the time at Walmart and I am sure believers and non-believers alike read them, so this is a blessing in disguise in a way. The more non-Christians who read them the less non-Christians there will be in the long run.

Debbie said...

There are many non-Christians in my sphere of influence. Many of them wouldn't go into a Christian bookstore and buy a purely Christian book. So, I think it's great that she can write for both audiences and yet have the Christian message underlying everything she writes.

Judi Jorgensen said...

I agree with Angela on this. Her books, many of them different than another will appeal to all. The Elevator was a good example of this. Many of my friends, who don't go to church, really liked the book and I passed it around. They said it was thought provoking...which it is. Keep up the good work, Angie, you are reaching people with your writing and I never felt like you were "crossing over". :-) thanks for letting us post.