Friday, May 13, 2011

Sanitized Morality vs. Gritty Reality

The Christian Fiction Conundrum is a post I wrote about some of the identified problems within the Christian fiction market.  Specifically those of readers and writers finding themselves in two groups; camp one (1) provides sanitized moral/biblical situations vs. camp two (2) which provides situations closer to reality, more gritty and authentic.  While reading I find myself noting scenes and dialogue that would classify the books in one camp or the other.

I have given two examples of novels that land squarely in the #2 group of Christian fiction, The Last Templar (my post here) and The Priest's Graveyard (my post here).  I was fortunate to receive an autographed copy of Ann H. Gabhart's novel Sister Angel.   Although Sister Angel is in the #1 camp the author does a good job of heading toward the middle of the literary divide.

Alcoholism is a pivitol point in the story but the brush strokes are soft.  The family is patient, forgiving and willing to admit their own behavior might be a hinderance to recovery.  It was fortunate, I thought, that the character was a quiet drunk, not loud and abusive.  Had the character been violent, something many Christians have had to deal with, it would have moved this story into camp #2.

Two fathers in the story are verbally and emotionally abusive.  Their children are intimidated and willing to silence their bitterness and remain passive.  A soft brush stroke that takes a harsh issue but leaves it in camp #1. 

Ann Gabhart writes a poignant, inspirational novel that uses the faith of her characters to teach us a great deal about harsh issues.  She will reach a wider audience by using a soft brush stroke.  Now, this could be because this is how she writes, but the harsh reality is, soft is a bigger sell.

There are many readers who have expereinced these harsh lessons in real life and would appreciate seeing characters stuggle with family, with addiction, with God; read how they work through these difficult situations and come out, clearly tattered and wounded, but with their faith intact and stronger.  Unfortunately the realistic grit of harsh situations is not currently as lucrative for authors in the Christian market and, therefore, is much harder to get published. 

There are plenty of readers for all us writers.  It is my hope that the internet will help us find each other. Perhaps the internet will match authors and readers in a manner that will provide sufficient marketability data to convince publishers that a wide variety of Christian fiction can be lucrative.

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