an open letter to the christian book industry

Dear Christian Book Industry,

I didn’t mean to bash you in my last post.  I’m sorry if I offended you or stepped on your toes.  It wasn’t my intention to offend – I wanted to give you some constructive criticism.

Our generation is suffering.  We’re constantly bombarded by standards from the media and from others – standards we can’t possibly live up to.  I will never be as skinny, funny, sexy, witty, smart, or charming as society wants me to be.  My wardrobe will never be as put-together as the characters on TV, and I will never be able to come up with hilarious one-liners like certain characters in books.

So why don’t we have better role models?  Why do we have books where the characters have no hope?  Why do we have movies where the characters use crude language all the time?  Why do we have TV shows where the plotlines are all the same, every episode, with very little progression in the overall storyline?  (I know you’re not involved in film, but lots of books are adapted for the screen.)

My intention for the previous post was to bring a need into the light and challenge young authors.  I know that there are amazing young authors out there, and I don’t want to discourage them and say that “all Christian books are EVIL,” which is what I think came across.  (Whoops.)

When I look at the selection of Christian fiction that is available to young people today, I see a lot of Amish romance (with Christian characters), fantasy (Christian fantasy, duh), sci-fi (Christian sci-fi, duh), and supernatural (aka “involving the spiritual realm”).  This is great.  Don’t get me wrong – one of my favorite authors writes a ton of Christian fantasy.  I could give you a long list of Christian books that I love that fall under these categories.

But it’s not enough.

More than that, I don’t see many books involving teens… and only teens.  No other-genre twist.  Just teens.  Where are the books that showcase modern teens with modern problems?  Where’s the story of the teenage girl who’s struggling to balance her identity in Christ with the pressures of her non-religious friends?  Where’s the story of the guy who recently became a Christian and is having problems giving up his addiction?  Think John-Green-meets-Katherine-Reay or Rainbow-Rowell-meets-Paul-McCusker.  Where are those books?

There are so many ideas out there – so many possibilities for good books that could encourage young adults and guide them in their journey of faith.

So why aren’t you publishing those books?  Why aren’t you looking for those authors?

Praying for change,

9 thoughts on “an open letter to the christian book industry

  1. Have you read anything by Robin Jones Gunn? Look her up. Read her story. She writes just what you’re asking for and fought hard to get there (rejected 10 times before her first book was published). I have everything she’s written, and I only wish there were more writers like her. Also check out Melodie Carlson. She has a ‘colors’ series that also is what you’re looking for here. But I agree, far too few make the shelves. And when they do they’re hidden or partial sets.

  2. Pingback: year in review: 2015 | inklings press

  3. I love Christian fantasy, probably my absolute favorite genre of fiction. I actually find it kinda hard to find Christian sci-fi. J. Grace Pennington’s Firmament series and Aubrey Hansen’s Red Rain are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head (all really good). I may have said this to you already (or maybe I just thought it later as something I should have said), but I think you’ve actually pointed out to me the reason I don’t really read contemporary fiction that isn’t at least 50 years old. It’s either a Christian book and preachy and unrealistic and boring, or it’s secular and it’s got a lot of content issues that would make me uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s my calling to write contemporary (I realized the other day that a good reason none of my contemporaries have ever made it past a chapter or so could be that there’s no way to put good guys in jail for doing the right thing, which I do in, like, every book), but I really think it’s your calling, and you seem to be doing a good job so far. Just finish TAoLG already so I can read it. 🙂

    • I know. 😀 Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’ sci-fi trilogy? Might want to check it out. 🙂 Hooooolllllllddddd up. I didn’t say don’t read contemporary fiction that isn’t at least 50 years old. (I do remember you telling me that.) There are a LOT of good contemporary “secular” books out there, you just have to find them. Like the Penderwick books! 🙂 It’s not everyone’s calling, and that’s totally okay. 🙂 Aww, thanks. HA! I’m trying. 😉

      • Oh, duh. How could I forget the Space Trilogy? It’s awesome. But still, I can’t find much. Even Madeleine L’Engle’s books, despite having lots of Christianity in them, still tend to insert evolution. 😛

        I know you didn’t. Old contemporary is great. Finding the new ones is difficult, and your Goodreads shows me more of what not to read than what TO read. 😉 I need to read the Penderwick books. I’m hoping to be able to get my new library card sometime this week, and then I can have access to library books again. FINALLY.

        Yup, everyone has a different calling, a different part of the wall to build. 🙂 I think mine has more to do with freedom stuff.

        You’re welcome. Any closer yet? 😀

        • 😀 Yeah, I wouldn’t consider those Christian. Haha, true! Go in my Favorites. Have you ever read Wonder? You’d LOVE that one. Duhhhhh, yes, read the Penderwick series. 🙂 Yep! Veeeeeeeery close to being done writing it, but then I still have a TONNNNNN of editing to do. I’ll let ya know. 😉

          • A Wrinkle in Time seems Christian, but some of the others…eh. I haven’t read Wonder. I should check it out. I have a lot of things I want to check out when I get my library card. Is editing generally harder or easier than the first draft for you? For me it’s generally somewhat easier.

            • You really should! If you want, I can give you an entire list – I LOVE our library. Hmm… Editing is just different. It’s not necessarily harder or easier, it’s just different. It’s more fun in some ways because you get to add in stuff, but that’s probably because I have so much layering to do in The Art that it’s almost like writing… anyway. 😀

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