f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 1 of <i>From the Corner of His Eye</i> - Name That Book!

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Day 1 of From the Corner of His Eye - Name That Book!

Okay, this is like "Name That Tune" except I’m going to type out a selection and you’re going to read it and then you’re going to try to guess where it came from.

(And, unless you’ve read the book you’re never going to get it right because there are 300,000,000,000 books out there and the passage isn’t famous. But we’ll play anyway.)

Here’s the selection:
“The universe was vast and Barty small, yet the boy’s immortal soul made him as important as galaxies, as important as anything in Creation. This Agnes believed. She couldn’t tolerate life without the conviction that it had meaning and design, though sometimes she felt that she was a sparrow whose fall had gone unnoticed.”

It could definitely fit in a CBA novel, that’s for sure. Which should be clue enough that it’s not from a CBA novel. In fact, you’re probably guessing that it’s from something completely other than a CBA novel. And of course you’re right. Though I’m not going to spill the beans quite yet.

The book, however, should be Exhibit A in any discussion moving forward about what makes a Christian novel…particular a Christian suspense novel. (Oh shoot, gave that clue away. You’re narrowing in on it, I’m sure.)

Here’s the thing, pretend as we might, nobody’s all that clear about what makes a Christian suspense novel anymore. I started this conversation a bit last week. Part of the reason is that for the most part “Christian” and “suspense” are unrelated. Not opposites necessarily, just incompatible through incongruity. Like trying to talk about “melodic cod” or “aggressive marshmallows.” The modifier doesn’t do much to the noun.

Is the suspense related to religion? That could be. But often not. Does the suspense involve followers of Christ. Typically, but so what?

As an acquisitions editor bringing in projects it’s important for me to explain why a book—which may be in large part about violence or threat of violence—should be published by us. The standard that I’ve held myself to, to this point, is that I try and figure out what a story has to say to a “Christian reader’s faith.” The story itself, apart from the interpretive lens of a believer, may not necessarily be overwhelming religious. But if a Christian reads it—or someone with a softening heart reads it—there is a theme or moral or idea that can be grasped that points to the eternal.

And so if this book we’re discussing came across my desk—and of course it didn’t because it’s a NYTimes bestseller—I’d have given it serious contemplation and would have presented it to our contract committee. (Not just for that one bit. The rest of the story expands on the importance of the eternal soul.)

And wouldn’t it have been strange to have seen Bethany House release this book?

(Also just to be clear, this hypothetical is talking solely about the book--apart from its author and apart from the author's previous works. The authors who publish with BHP are all Christians. I'm not sure where this author is.)

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Go to Day 2 of our discussion of From the Corner of His Eye.