f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Interview with James Scott Bell

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

Friday, May 05, 2006

Interview with James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is the author of twelve novels to date. He was recently named a finalist for the Christy Award in Historical Fiction for his novel Glimpses of Paradise, published by BHP. As fellow devotees to the noir genre and those who have a vested interest in where the mystery/suspense genre is going in CBA, Jim and I thought it'd be interesting to chat over email about the topic.

First question: Who's your murderer's row of mystery/suspense writers? I go: Hammett, Chandler, Jim Thompson, James Ellroy, and Michael Connelly.

That's a great list! They'd all be on mine. I'd include the two MacDonald boys--John D. and Ross--as well. The End of the Night by John D., and The Galton Case by Ross are classics.

These gentlemen's stories seem to go from charcoal gray to pit-of-hell black in terms of how dark their world is. So how is this genre compatible with Christian fiction?

I always think of Raymond Chandler's description of the modern detective: "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid."

Isn't that exactly what Christians must be? We live in a world that is sometimes very dark indeed, yet we are not to be tarnished by it, nor afraid. We are to take our stand and show the redemption that is real and near.

It seems to me the issue is not the darkness, but how one responds to it. Is there any basis for hope? Or are we merely carbon based atoms awaiting our inevitable destruction? Can we make real difference?

When light breaks into darkness it is startling and satisfying. That's what I try to get into my fiction.

Read the conclusion to the interview here.