Friday, June 10, 2011

Edgy Christian Fiction

There’s a term floating about the world of Christian fiction the last few years, a term I didn’t pay much attention to. At least not until it was suggested that my novel fit that category.

With a gasp, I said, “Me . . . little old soft-touch me . . . write an edgy book!”

For those of you who don’t know what Edgy Christian Fiction is, here’s a brief description—Novels with a Christian world-view, not necessarily with Christian characters or any type of Christian preaching. These books may contain sexuality, sensuality, Christian characters who drink alcohol, gamble, cuss, lie. Christian characters who struggle with a particular recurring sin. Books with graphic violence and/or vividly depicted crime scenes, the underbelly of life, men's action novels including war stories, and/or vampires and Goth type characters.

It was a bit of a shocker to think my Shadowed in Silk would fit anywhere in that category. There are certainly no vampires in it. And I come right out and explain the gospel message of Christ through one of my characters. But still, some would say my debut novel leans in the direction of edgy.

As I wrote Shadowed in Silk, I worked hard to mirror the emotional and spiritual lives of real people. A fair chunk of my own thinking when I was young and searching for truth is portrayed in my characters, as well as that of my thinking as a mature Christian. I wanted to reach all sorts of levels in readers' spiritual understanding.

My story is about a woman who is abused and then abandoned by her husband, and who then falls in love with a kind man, who happens to be a Christian. I’ve got to tell you right now, that the book is squeaky clean. But it’s considered edgy because of what this distraught woman feels in her heart, because what she feels is wrong.

A few Sundays ago, I had a chance conversation with a woman who had just started to come to church. She shared a bit of her life which had been scarred by poor morale choices in her youth. I caught that look in her eye. She wondered about me—did I understand the sadness due to her immoral youth.

I told her that if she could have a heart-to-heart talk with each person in our church, she would find that most people did not have a sweet and perfect life. She’d be surprised to know how many of us had babies before we were married. Me, being one who had relinquished a child to adoption. Then there are all those couples who are on their second marriage, and bear the pain of a failed previous marriage, or who were abandoned by their first spouse. There are people in our pews who’ve been to jail. I’ve held the hands of some who've had abortions before they became Christians. I know a few who used to have issues with anger, alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery.

My church is full of people who have been saved from terrible moral choices in the past. And my church is full of people who have loved ones who are still struggling with those same issues. If I can’t shock the elderly people in my church with my own past sins, because quite frankly they’ve seen much in their lives, how can I shock them with my realistically written book?

So, it seems I've written a bit of an edgy book. Maybe that will be my brand. One thing I do know, Christians like to be entertained too, whether it be through an edgy story, or a gentle one.

God can use it all.


Elaine Stock said...

Christine, what a very interesting thought. When I read SHADOWED IN SILK I just thought of the story as simply wonderful! It was a bit of everything: love story, suspense, action, mystery. Characters were tender, revengeful, cunning, caring. People believed in God. Others didn't. This "Edgy Christian Fiction" is about what life on Earth really is like, with a no-holding back on reality, no glossing over. Even Walt Disney films these days portray life as it is--just a bit of a cleaner version. So, why not Christian Fiction?


Carol J. Garvin said...

It's interesting that I've just come here after reading Catherine West's post on a similar subject. I haven't finished reading SHADOWED IN SILK yet, but I wouldn't call it edgy Christian fiction so much as historical fiction written from a Christian worldview. The CBA criteria for marketing a book as Christian fiction is quite specific, but today's readers are looking for stories that reflect today's real world, not a sugar-coated version. According to Jim Bell, my current novel fits into the category as edgy, but only time will tell if an agent agrees and thinks it's marketable as such.

Christine Lindsay said...

I agree with you Carol. I wouldn't call my book edgy fiction either. I guess it was more that I was dealing with an edgy topic--although very subtly. When I wrote it, I was doing as you say, trying to write a story that was relevant to today's emotional and spiritual issues. Wonderful comment of yours, thanks. And wishing you success with your 'edgy' book. :o)

Rachel said...

Well, I suppose it all depends on what you're comparing it to. Vs. Janet Oake, then definitely SiS is edgy. But compared to the Bible, you're tame. LOL. Someone told me my story was edgy just from the first three chapters. I had to scratch my head at that. There was no sin even hinted at. But then I realized that just setting it in the inner city made it edgy to them.

GWB said...

Hi Christine!
I need to thank you :)You've just described my novel style to a "T" I had thought I was doing it wrong, that Christians should be nice, mild mannered people that wouldn't even look through the windows of some places let alone go in. That they wouldn't utter anything close to a curse word. But I'm so glad you put a name to what I write. Now I don't feel I have to hide under a bushel, lol! And I have an answer to the question "What kind of novels do you write?" Thanks again.

JannaTWrites said...

I had never heard the term "edgy Christian Fiction" before. I haven't read your novel yet, but I plan to when it's available in print. I did read the scene where she admits feelings for a man that she couldn't act upon. I think it's more realistic than "edgy." There isn't a person out there who hasn't had sinful thoughts, so it's reasonable that your characters would face the same struggles that we do.

Christine Lindsay said...

I so agree with you Janna. To me edgy is simply realistic.