These are very exciting times in the realm of biblical fiction. Go to your local large-scale bookstore and near the aisles of bibles, you’re likely to find dozens of fiction titles written by followers of Messiah for the edification of the body of believers. Just five years ago, you might – might, mind you – have seen a dozen, and ten years ago you probably wouldn’t have found any at all.
So, what’s going on? A market shift is what’s going on.
Believers want fiction that they can trust not to be offensive, written by authors that they can trust are also believers, who write with a worldview they can relate to. Some of them wanted so bad for this kind of writing to exist that they set out to write it themselves. These bold literary adventurers created the genre of biblical fiction almost from nothing, and the writers of every biblical fiction title published from now on will hold them forever in their debt. Because they were willing to undertake the daring task of writing something entirely new (and because others were willing to vote for it in the marketplace with their dollars), an entire industry – a notoriously monolithic industry, mind you – has taken notice, and adapted. To those who blazed this unworn trail, I declare a hearty “thank you!”
So, I look at this burgeoning, new genre of fiction, and, as an aspiring author myself, I can’t help but wonder where I might fit into it. Although I’m yet to be published, before my return to God three years ago, I was an aspiring writer then, too, working on fantasy stories, experimenting with vampire-themed fiction, generally writing some pretty dark and worldly stuff. Needless to say, when I turned my life around I put all of that away and focused on other things – things more pleasing to God.
I realized that what led me to write in the first place was a deep need for approval. I was contributing to a writing group back then, and when I shared my writing with the group chapter by chapter, I would revel in the accolades I often received from the group’s members. It was rather like a drug, and I was completely hooked. Yet another reason to “let it go”, my worldly and base motivation to write.
So, why am I returning to the craft now? Well, over the past three years, I’ve noticed what I talked about in the beginning, the growth and maturing of this new genre called biblical fiction, and from time to time I would ponder that question I posed: “Is there a place for a writer like me in all of this?”
And, what exactly is “a writer like me”, anyway?
It’s been three years since I last sat down to a computer with the intention to write fiction. When I broke away, I made a complete break. As it happens so often with so many believers, I’ve been through trial after trial and God has grown me through each one. God introduced me to an amazing woman, a Jewish believer, who stood by me through each crisis. She prayed with me, she prayed for me, she helped me to find a congregation of believers that was a perfect fit, and she has continually been at my side. Of course I married her, and she has been my constant help ever since we met two-and-a half years ago. And yes, I’m still smitten. Thank you, God!
So, as I saw my own growth over the past few years, I eventually wondered… can I write again? Should I write again?
But I kept quiet about it. My wife and I had far larger concerns. The usual stuff… bills, debts, life as we know it.
Then one day, my wife turned to me and said, “William, I think you should write.”
I don’t remember my reaction. It was probably something like a cross between a deer in headlights and a computer on fire.
“I’m serious. I think you should write.”, she said.
So, maybe it was time. We’ve prayed about it, of course, and right on the heels of that conversation I got laid off from my time-demanding job due to an acute illness that lingered. So, that looked like God’s answer.
But I still wondered… What kind of writer might I be now?
My writing experience was in fantasy and dark fiction. So, fantasy? The only fantasy writer that I know was a believer was J.R.R. Tolkien, and while he was certainly a standout, there will never be another Tolkien. And dark fiction and vampires were out of the question, for sure. So, what kind of writer am I? Who am I? What do I want to say? More importantly, what does God want me to say?
Which brought me back to what started all of this, perusing those biblical fiction shelves at my local bookstore. A lot of biblical fiction is Christian romance along with its sub-genre, Amish romance. I’m sure it’s all wonderful stuff, and I’m glad it’s there for believers who want romance novels they can trust not to get all “worldly”. But that is definitely not where I fit.
Now, one idea I had for a novel almost ten years ago now, was going to be a blend of dark fiction with historical fiction. Hmmm… historical fiction. What’s more historical than the bible? Are there any such titles out there? Yes, there are. A few.
So, maybe there should be a few more.