Blessing of Christian Historical Fiction

Potter and the clay

Whether Biblical Fiction or Christian Historical fiction is an ‘Ugly Truth’ or a ‘Blessing’ is up to each reader to decide. It is a personal choice.

The title of this weeks post in the series is ‘The Blessing…’

I have been greatly encouraged by the response of the named authors in last week’s post on Christian, Historical fiction. As I mentioned in the first post in this series, some of the writers on my list are more in the category of Biblical fiction, than Christian Historical Fiction. Still, I wonder how many of us – without deep study are aware of how much ‘New Testament’ principles are in what we refer to as the ‘Old Testament.’

Biblical Fiction or Christian Fiction?

Bible. One book, many stories

I am inclined to believe that the Bible is one book with two testaments as some of my studies revealed. This seems to be confirmed by Jesus Himself.

“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me,” 
John 5:39 Berean Study Bible.

 

For myself, I learn a lot from Biblical fiction writers such as Lynn Austin, Mesu Andrews and Jill Eileen Smith… mainly because the encourage me to see people or events in the Old Testament through different eyes… fresh eyes. I will never forget living through the construction of what is known as ‘Hezekiah’s tunnel’ – something that is easily read over in Scripture.
But I cannot just focus on the books of the aforementioned authors – all the writers who are skilled, and work hard with their research really do open the Bible to being more than stories… but being about people, the culture and the times.

Biblical fiction bears fruit

Present and past -

Last Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to a very welcoming church group. It was an enjoyable experience… and also illuminating. Another speaker, a member of their congregation shared his experience of living in Holland under Nazi rule. What he said was not fiction… but given that he was talking of events 73 years ago, it was historical. As I listened to his tale of living without electricity, gas, transport other than walking – my mind wandered to the number of times writing my book series where I had wished Naomi had a ‘proper’ cooker, or some of the key characters had even a landline telephone. The ‘perils’ of writing historical fiction, be it Christian or non-Christian remain the same… the lives of the characters, and their language was different to ours today.

The male speaker I referred to earlier certainly had the setting correct… well, he should, he lived through it. He talked about the culture of evening soirees where people visited each other and had musical evenings. I have seen this type of culture in good quality films of the period. This man was a walking historical experience.

An 'ugly' bit...

I recently gave up on a ‘Christian, Historical Fiction’ book because the main character seemed to have been plucked from modern times, stuck in a Biblical setting… and was so out-of-character with the mores of the time and culture… I could read no further.

Ugly bit over!

The gifted ones.

The authors I mentioned… and the others I read… clearly did not live through the events they write about. However, they have the gifting and determination to use the gifts to help the rest of us to ‘see’ the events – and people they write about.

These are the ones who open a window – or a door to Biblical fiction and help us discover the people.

Thank YOU!

Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey. Interestingly, there seems to be a fairly even split between readers who like Old Testament fiction and Christian Historical Fiction. The survey closes on the 5th July, so there is still time to have your say. Remember, it is anonymous, has six short questions, most of them multi-choice so if you like more than one item you can tick (check) more than one… or them all.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

I will share the results with you, naturally.

Next week's guest...

Next week we have the privilege of hearing from Carol Ashby… who is a Christian, Historical Fiction writer. Not to be confused with the English actress Carol Ashby… this Carol Ashby is a retired scientist, with a passion for getting the details right.

Her novel, Forgiven, explores… well, I will leave it to you to find out next week. (I am often upbraided for giving ‘spoilers’ – so I am turning over a new leaf.)

Not a spoiler but – it is a fascinating story

Cover of Forgiven

As for this week’s featured image…
‘I am the potter, you are the clay’ seems appropriate to Christian/Biblical Historical Fiction writers. (Based on Isaiah 64:8)

Tread softly…

Susan

PS
Another link to the survey
                               https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

The Ugly Truth About Christian Historical Fiction

Christian Historical Fiction books

Readers either love or hate Christian Historical fiction. There are very few who ‘sort-of like it’. If you, as a reader, say you do… my guess would be that it depends on some of the things I will cover in this post.

Stay tuned!

First, what is the ‘ugly truth’ about Christian Historical fiction?

  1. Well, for one – like all historical fiction, the books are usually long.
  2. Sometimes the term ‘Biblical’ fiction would be a better description.
  3. Another downside is it is a bit difficult to check the details.
  4. Then comes the fear – what if the author is trying to convert me?

Another ugly truth is – sometimes the author IS trying to convert you.

On the other hand, some authors enjoy writing about this time period and like to share what they have discovered. These authors open a door to the past to help you to understand what the time and culture was like for the characters in the novel.

For some, readers and authors, it is digging into the pages of the Bible and finding the people, the way they lived, seeing the challenges they faced.

There is yet another ugly truth…

Discovering the people behind the stories might change the way you view the Bible.

Image representing Christian Historical Fiction
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To make it more understandable, and to improve the reader’s experience I have researched this topic.

Why?

Because of the comment made by a minister that my writing reminded him of a book series by Lynn Austin. (Which I take as a great compliment because I enjoy Lynn Austin’s historical fiction books. Yes, I read Christian Historical Fiction as well as write books in that genre.)

I made a list of authors of Christian Historical Fiction.

As well as Lynn Austin there is Francine Rivers, Jill Eileen Smith, Mesu Andrews, Carol Ashby,  Diana Wallis Taylor, and Nina Gould. A new author I have just discovered is Linda Lee Chaikin, who writes in more recent historical times. These are just a few of the famous Christian historical fiction authors currently writing – and my apologies to the ones I have missed. (I read more than those listed.)

I usually read reviews… so please, readers – review the books you read – it helps the rest of us choose what to read next.

Here is the first key to understanding reader’s feelings about Christian Historical Fiction.

(This I figured out from studying reviews for a wide variety of authors in this genre.)

The subject ‘Christian Historical Fiction’ is too broad and can be quite confusing for the reader.

Why?

Because there are many time periods in Christian Historical Fiction books…

  • Beginning of time – as with the Adam, Eve and family novel.
  • Various Old Testament biblical times

These first two categories are Biblical history but are usually grouped together with the following…

  • Time of Christ
  • Time of the Apostles
  • Toward the end of the apostolic age (where the Apostle John Series is set)

Then there is the 2nd century – where Diana Wallis Taylor writes, and later, the Medici/Huguenot era where Linda Lee Chaikin’s Silk House Trilogy is set.

Then there are various ‘modern’ ages also classified as Christian Historical Fiction.

  • There are also ‘categories’ within these ages.
  • Biblical – based on scripture (Old or New Testaments)
  • Biblical background purely fictitious characters.
  • More modern still in the time of the US… Western pioneering.

Christian Historical Fiction Readers –

Clock faceWhen you buy a book you are investing more than just the price of the book – you are making an investment of your time. In this day an age more and more people are time-poor.

 

I created a survey to try to help both readers and writers by narrowing this expanse of time classified as Christian Historical Fiction down.

My motive… well, if we know what period and type of Christian Historical fiction we are interested in it can save time and money because, as readers, we can make an informed choice.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

What do I mean save time and money?

By choosing the wrong era… or the wrong category.

More than once I have been reading a book – and given up on it because it was not what I expected it to be.

So, this survey should help authors and more especially readers. Yes, writers want sales – and reviews, but more importantly, authors want to serve/entertain/even educate readers… depending on what the reader wants.

Hey! Did you readers know how much power you have? LOL

There will be guest posts, reviews and background information on books/authors who write in the different eras and categories.

This post was born out of the minister’s comment about my writing… and my frustration with some of the books which said they were Christian Historical Fiction – but were not.

Come, join me for the next few weeks. You might find it interesting. Stay with the series throughout July and you might just find that the title ‘Ugly Truth about Christian Historical Fiction’ should read – ‘The Blessing of Historical Fiction.’

Susan

Here is another link to the survey at the end. It should not take long, a couple of minutes at most. It asks for no identifying details or household income, just your reading preferences in this genre.

It is for readers, bloggers, authors – anyone who is interested and any age group.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

Click the link to the short survey and respond to the questions – thanks… future readers will thank you.

The Donnybrook adventure

Why did I choose to drive myself to Donnybrook? Anyone who knows me, knows I do not like driving to places I have never been before. They probably also know I find it easy to ‘mislay’ myself. (Okay, I admit it… I get lost.) Perhaps some of it is to do with the problem I have with my left and right hand directions. Tell me to turn left, and I will probably turn right.

pulling over signpost cartoon

I have met many people who have the same problem… perhaps I should form a club.

Mary (not her real name) has been a friend for many years. We belong to the same type of church, and there were some special ‘days’ coming up. This year she invited me to come visit her – in Donnybrook. That is in the south-west of Western Australia. The only time my late husband and I went to Donnybrook was by mistake. We had been at a church festival in a town down south, I knew we had to find South West Highway to return home, (it was before the freeway went that far) and I found it. As we travelled, and the miles passed, and passed… there was nothing we recognised as looking remotely like the approach to the Perth suburbs.

Donnybrook signThen we saw a sign saying ‘Donnybrook welcomes you.’

“I don’t remember Donnybrook on the way down.”

A hotel had a sign out front advertising morning teas, so we parked the car and went in. When the waitress brought our coffees (I don’t like tea), I asked her, “If we keep going on this road, will we reach Perth?”

She smiled and said, “You will reach Esperance.”

Esperance was on the south coast of WA. I had been driving the wrong way!

Now, however, the freeway goes all the way to Bunbury… well, it changes name a few times but it is a straight road down. Till the big roundabout before Bunbury where I had to turn left… and I knew, in advance, what way I was turning. “There is a dedicated left lane,” Mary had said… and so had others.

Google map of Eelup roundabout

Mary had given me directions… but something didn’t quite add up. All was well until I had to turn left up South West Hwy.  and I did. Looking at the map detail now I finally can see what went wrong. The exit (left) for South West Hwy that I took was for the separate one going north. A little further on from where I turned left, was the next left turn, for the South West Hwy going south.

Google map, South West Highway

There are two separate left turns into South West Highway… and no markings as to which direction it is heading. (I noticed I was going the wrong way when some of the towns, which had exits from the Freeway on the way down,were coming closer.

Donnybrook – at last!

Ah well, I did arrive in Donnybrook and it was a wonderful time meeting people I had not seen for years, resting – yes, even writing some of book 5. (A new section to add to the existing draft.)

Cover imaage of award-winning Hold the Faith
Oh, Mary had recommended Hold the Faith (book 1 in the series) to a minister acquaintance. While I was with her she received a note from him. Amongst the other comments he made, he said that he had found Hold the Faith reminded him of Lynn Austin’s series Chronicles of the Kings. Mary was a bit unsure of the comment.

 

 

“If he thinks I write like Lynn Austin I take that as a compliment,” I said.

Lynn Austin’s series – the one he referred to, is about King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, and his son Manasseh. My late husband and I read them as they were released… they brought those people to life. Yes, like my series, they are fiction, but she too had done a lot of research.

So, it made me think – as well as feeling blessed, I will look up Lynn Austin and other writers in my genre and maybe even share my thoughts on them in a blog.

Till then, farewell.  I am safely home from Donnybrook and the return trip was much less complicated.

Keep smiling

Susan

PS – Book 3 in the series, The Light of Truth is available in print now on Amazon. So that Reader’s Circle members could receive a discount, I released it at a discount. On the 1st of May it goes to the ‘normal’ price of $14.95.

So… blog readers, you now have a chance to grab a copy at the reduced price.

Here is a link for you to check it out…  http://amzn.to/2pY0uZ5