Monday, December 10, 2012

The Inspirational Fiction Phenomenon by Jill Elizabeth Nelson


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. 


18 comments:

  1. I have often been encouraged by the Christian books that I have read. Seeing others deal with issues that are as difficult as, or more difficult than, the ones I am facing and doig it successfully, gives me hope.
    Shirley
    beekeeper5(at)bellsouth(dot)nt

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    1. Exactly, Shirley. You hit the nail on the head when you mention the hope that Christian fiction can bring to our hearts. Happy to hear that you've been a recipient of that blessing. :-)

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  2. I love to read inspirational, christian fiction. ....those kind of books help me to destress and I just really enjoy em ..my own much needed time to really put my feet up and RELAX.......loook forward to reading Jill Elizabeth Nelson's two new books...'Betrayal On The Border'...and Jill's Christmas book....'Season Of Danger'.......babyruthmac16ATyahooDOTcom..

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    1. I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT i SHARED ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER TOO

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    2. Awesome, dear friend! Thanks for sharing. :-) I totally agree that a good story is a great destressor. We need that in this life!

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  3. I love to read Christian fiction. It helps me relax, and refocus on what's important in life - Jesus Christ. I am looking forward to reading Jill's new book, Betrayal on the Border, as well as Season of Danger.
    linlee822@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Linda. We all need help with that refocusing. I'm glad Christian fiction can help.

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  4. I love inspirational fiction because it is so uplifting.
    doparker50@gmail.com

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  5. Not only does inspirational fiction lift you up, it gives you hope to work out your own problems. Brings you a step closer to Christ.I love christian fiction.
    inspiremichelle@yahoo.com

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    1. Exactly, Michelle. Thanks for chiming in.

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  6. I don't read much 'secular' fiction anymore, because there is so much good inspirational fiction available. I really appreciate how much time the author spends weaving our daily Christian walk into a story. A book that makes me reflect on my own spiritual walk, is one that I will often think of and reread. Thanks so much for writing books that touch the soul!
    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. You are spot on about how much good quality inspiration fiction is now available. That didn't used to be the case. It's my privilege to write in the Lord's service. We need to get the word out to our friends about what they could be reading.

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  7. I recently reestablished and confirmed my relationship with God. I don't need the temptations that are in most romance novels. I wanted to read something that can inspire and speak to me at the same time. These Christian fiction novels keep me focused on my walk with God and helps me understand that even though I am going through a test right now. God promises as his children that I am his heir and I am promised a blessing as long as I follow and obey him.
    Debora at deb37beny@comcast.net

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    1. So glad you've found your way home in God, Debora. How patiently He loves and woos us! Good choice to read Christian fiction. By the way, you are the winner of the two books I'm giving away, Betrayal on the Border and Season of Danger.

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    2. Thank you so much. Reading is my passion. I have been reading since I was 4 y/o and I feel like I have traveled all over the world for free. By the way do you need my address or have you already go it.

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