Bookends: What Is Christian Fiction?

We’re down to the last few days of May and on this blog that means it’s time for a segment I’ve titled Bookends.  Basically, this a moment to talk about a particular trend or issue in the book industry.  Since this is my first addition to this segment, I decided to go with something that appears to be a simple and complicated topic all in one.

The majority of what I write and a lot of what I read falls in one way or another under the classification of Christian Fiction.  When I started in this genre I didn’t think there was anything particularly strange about it.  I knew Christian Fiction had been around for years.  Plenty of Christian Fiction writers have become well established, from Janette Oke romances to Terri Blackstock mysteries.  I’ve come to discover, however, to a lot of people the concept is still foreign.

Sure there were plenty of people in my life whose response to my writing was, “I’ve never heard of Christian Fiction.  Are there other books like this?”  But the moment I realized there really was a large chunk of the population that hadn’t heard came when I gave a talk about my book at a local library.  Upon my arrival I discovered the library had been distributing flyers declaring me one of the pioneers of this thing called Christian Fiction.  I mean, this was a library…lots of books…lots of “book people” running the thing.  And yet not one of them had heard of the idea.

So, what exactly is Christian Fiction?  The simple definition is a novel with a Christian theme.  This does take several different forms.  Some books included complete “salvation stories” where one or more characters starts to the book as a non-Christian and ends as a believer.  For others it’s more about Christian ideas like, the struggle between faith and fear, obedience over self-reliance, or even deeper theological concepts like what it means to be in a covenant with God.  Then there is a segment that deals more with basic morality issues; i.e. how a Christian lives in the world where immorality is tolerated or even sometimes celebrated.  Whatever the form the book actually takes, any one of these is classified under the heading of Christian Fiction.  I know in the industry some publishers break this down into Christian and Inspirational, but it’s really the same thing.  A fictional story wrapped around a Christian theme.

Now, I know there are people out there who think of this idea as propaganda or even subversive, but if you really think about it, ever book, secular or not, has a message.  The only real difference is secular books get distributed around bookstores based on genre and Christian Fiction, whether romance or mystery, get’s packed onto the same shelf under the same heading…and I’ve noticed that shelf is often way in the back of the store, shoved in a corner, but that’s another topic for another time.

The point is simply this: Christian Fiction does exist!  And it exists in a wide variety.  Whether you’re drawn to sappy romances, geo-political thrillers, or historical tales of woe and triumph, there’s a book for you on the Christina Fiction shelf.

Actually, a great way to learn more is to check out The American Christian Fiction Writer’s Association.  They’ve got a great, long list of published authors.

So, have you ever heard of Christian Fiction?

Oh, and by the way, as of late my local library has started advertising Christian Fiction on the website.  Yep…it’s true. ;)

6 thoughts on “Bookends: What Is Christian Fiction?

  1. Yep, yep, yep. I knew about Christian Fiction before I knew what Christians were, or fiction, for that matter. :P Statistics prove that exaggeration is a common practice with many people. Um… LOL

  2. Yes, but I really didn’t have any idea of the vast number of Christian fiction authors and books until about eleven years ago. In my mind it was only Christian romance, or Christian historical fiction, other than the Narnia series.I didn’t really know there were Christian mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, scifi, horror, etc novels. I have to admit I’m still not fond of horror in the Christian realm of writing, but it’s great to be able to recommend Perretti to people who love to read that genre, but don’t know that there’s a Christian author out there writing it. I think it’s funny that your library didn’t know.

    1. Yes, I think a lot of people who say they know Christian fiction don’t think of it as a genre beyond Janet Oke. We must educate!

      But I agree with you, horror is not something I’m comfortable with, not matter the spiritual side. I wonder sometimes if that’s even an area we should be getting into.

      It was funny to think of a library not knowing about Christian fiction, but it was also really awkward. I had to think of a way of telling people that I wasn’t in any way a pioneer of the genre without making the library, my host, look uninformed. lol

      It was…interesting… ;)

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