“What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects– with their Christianity latent.” -C. S. Lewis
That’s a quote I’ve always loved. It’s more than a quote, it’s a challenge.
Just last week my book club had a wonderful session with Amanda Dykes after reading her 2020 Christy Book of the Year, Whose Waves These Are. This very subject came up because one of our members “does not generally read Christian fiction.” She read this book and loved it. It reminded me that today’s writers in the CBA mostly do not set out to write a “Christian” book. They work hard to write an excellent book and, because they are writers of faith, that shines on the page whether it is put into words or not.
Most of you know I only represent books written by Christians with a Christian world view. That’s a very individual choice each agent makes at some point
So does that mean that the nonfiction book needs to be prescriptive or filled with apologetics or theology? Does each novel need to have a character bending his knee in acknowledgment of God’s saving grace? Of course not. That can get positively clichéd.
So what makes a “Christian” book? In fiction it’s just a story that not only explores the plot and characters but explores faith issues as well, however subtly. In nonfiction it’s looking at the subject through the eyes of faith.
It has nothing to do with whether a book ends up in the CBA market or the ABA market. There are plenty of writers in the general market (ABA) who can’t divorce their faith from their storytelling. John Grisham’s The Covenant was one book that comes to mind. Debbie Macomber’s books are another.
It’s true that in the Christian market there are strictures– CBA readers expect the books to be free of profanity, gratuitous sex and violence. We expect a gentle read. That has little to do with whether a book has a faith arc in it, however. There are many a sweet romance in the general market that meets those restrictions.
So let’s talk. You tell me. What makes a book a “Christian” book? How can a book have latent Christianity? Do you worry about whether your book is too “Christian?” Not “Christian” enough? Is there anything wrong with speaking Christianese? What is a faith arc in fiction? I look forward to hearing what you think.