I do a fair amount of speaking at libraries, and one of my favorite topics is this current phenomenon called Inspirational Fiction. Yes, I know there are oodles of books throughout the centuries that have inspired people, but these days the term has come to mean the whole gamut of Christian fiction that has swept into prominence within the past few decades.
Librarians all over the country claim that “inspirational” (Christian) novels are among the most popular on their shelves. In fact, they can hardly keep them on the shelves the books go out so fast. Recent statistics reveal that inspirational fiction is one of the few primary growth areas in fiction publishing, which explains why every major publishing house has gone out of their way to acquire one or more Christian imprints.
What is inspirational fiction?
A definition of inspirational fiction used in writing contests is a novel in any genre where the Christian faith of one or more of the characters is an integral part of the story, and the story line is free of explicit sex, gratuitous violence, and foul language.
Why do people crave this kind of story?
The core of the Christian faith is trust in a God of love. Stories from a Christian point of view cannot help but offer encouragement and light in a very dark world—even when those stories are in a genre like suspense, which holds so much potential for the dark and terrible.
Many people are tired of the constant barrage of filth in film and books—notice all the recent and up-coming films that are actually family-friendly and uplifting. I’m thinking about movies like The Blind Side, Facing the Giants, and Courageous. As times get tougher, people are desperate for hope and a reason to believe in something good.
Interestingly enough, in the current wave of excellent fiction coming from Christian circles, stories of hope and light do not necessarily equate to fluff. People need truth and answers for difficult situations, and Christian novelists are dealing with some very gritty topics in the context of grace.
Christian Fiction Through the Centuries
The current form of Christian fiction is very much a product of its times, but technically some of our greatest classic literature and best-loved stories of centuries past are also Christian fiction. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, John Bunyan, and Harriett Beecher Stowe have all written books that strongly influenced the society of their times. Their books were not categorized specifically as Christian fiction, but they were written from the Christian worldview.
All writers have a worldview, and it’s basically impossible for that worldview not to creep into their writing. Fiction has incredible potential to influence people because stories pierce the heart.
Author and editor Dave Lambert says, “Good fiction tells a story with such a richness that it reveals something real and true to the reader.”
Share Your Story
If you’re a follower of this blog, chances are you are a fan of Christian fiction and tales of mystery and suspense in particular. I’d be really interested to hear any testimonies you might have about how Christian novels (especially our favorite genre of romantic suspense ;-) have influenced or blessed your lives.
Chime in for a chance to win a copy of my most recent release, Betrayal on the Border, as well as a copy of Season of Danger, the Christmas novella anthology that I co-authored with the renowned Hannah Alexander.