f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: What I’ve Learned From My Authors

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What I’ve Learned From My Authors

I’ll be honest with you, working through the stories for the conversion stories contest has been a bit exhausting. Exhausting but fascinating at the same time. And if there’s one thing that will encourage me to run another contest like this in 2006, it’s the fact that this consolidated amount of writing has given me a lot to mull over. And I like that.

I’ve banged this gong countless times, but I simply don’t see how you learn anything about books without reading. You can learn from good books and you can learn from bad books. You can definitely learn something about Christian writers by making your way through 76 short stories on the theme of salvation. All editors do this, I’m no different, but this blog at least lets me bounce back what I’ve learned to you all.

So in the upcoming weeks we’ll get to what I’ve learned from your stories.

Today, I’d like to talk a quick minute about what I’ve learned from my authors. (By “my” authors, I mean the ones I’ve contracted to write books. You’re welcome to join that list. Please send me a great, well-written story.) I’ve not signed a ton of them—just four so far, but I’m proud of them all and I think each has something different to show me.

I’ll tackle two today and two tomorrow.

Deeanne Gist – Dee’s the author of A Bride Most Begrudging. The bestselling author, I should say, as that book has taken off. A couple of Dee’s strengths are her understanding of her market (a hypothetical audience at first that has turned out to be real), a fluency with the requirements of her genre, and an effortless humor that I know requires incredible skill.

The thing I’ve taken most to heart from Dee, however, is the emotional passion that fills the pages of her books. Mark Bertrand and I both confessed to being emotionless automatons in our writing, so to see LOVE and FAITH and ANGER and PASSION and DESPAIR and, yes even, LUST sometimes fill pages in bold scenes that obviously grab readers. Well, I get it.

Athol Dickson – I haven’t mentioned Athol a lot yet, but that’s about to change in a big way and soon. Athol has a novel coming out in December called River Rising that’s one of the finest, most thought-provoking, challenging things I’ve read recently. It’s also a gripping suspense story all the way through, and not to make this “bash-Dave-week-again” but we talked about Ezekiel’s Shadow’s suffering from giving up on its genre roots.

We talk so much about theme/language vs. the drive of story and that’s such a difficult balance. In River Rising, Athol’s come across what seems to be the ideal blend. Plus, I love that he sees fiction as an art form where it’s still possible to talk about grand things in meaningful and beautiful ways.