Christian Fiction Paradox

I’ve noticed a paradox in some Christian fiction books recently. It manifested in The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka and The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. It presents an interesting conundrum for those who pursue writing Christian fiction. It really strikes at the heart of how to write effective, engaging fiction, and it has the potential to create a couple of theoretical camps in this realm of fiction.

Now that I’ve been melodramatic, what does crazy Jason have in mind? Well, I’m not ready to say. But any good product finds a way to create some buzz. I’m hoping that dropping a little teaser will have people wonder what those two books have in common that may portend what I’m talking about.

If anyone has any thoughts, feel free to post comments and I’ll be back in a couple days to open up what I want to discuss.

See you then…

Christian Fiction Paradox

I’ve noticed a paradox in some Christian fiction books recently. It manifested in The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka and The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. It presents an interesting conundrum for those who pursue writing Christian fiction. It really strikes at the heart of how to write effective, engaging fiction, and it has the potential to create a couple of theoretical camps in this realm of fiction.

Now that I’ve been melodramatic, what does crazy Jason have in mind? Well, I’m not ready to say. But any good product finds a way to create some buzz. I’m hoping that dropping a little teaser will have people wonder what those two books have in common that may portend what I’m talking about.

If anyone has any thoughts, feel free to post comments and I’ll be back in a couple days to open up what I want to discuss.

See you then…

CFBA Tour: Adam

Ted Dekker doesn’t need much introduction in the realm of Christian fiction. If any readers here think that a book from Christian fiction authors aren’t worth checking out, then his new book Adam is very likely to change your mind.

I’ve enjoyed the other books of his that I’ve read (Blink, Thr3e, and Showdown). I have been busy enough with reading that I’ve haven’t managed to read every one of his books. He has a powerful imagination and loves to explore the tension between good and evil.

Adam is the latest book to examine this theme. From the back cover:

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psyche.

I’m not a person who reads a book in one sitting, but I really wish I could have with Adam. He knows how to capture an audience and hold them to their seats, knuckles white from gripping the book. The main characters all suffer from some obsession, and the individual reactions to the scenario are intriguing. As they work together to hunt down the serial killer “Eve”, the tension ratchets up to a surprising turn of events that throws the book from being a taut thriller about tracking a murderer to something much more haunting and personal.

Dekker’s writing is fast-paced, and there is not a lot of flowery exposition – he hits the action hard and keeps the plot moving. He uses an interesting technique in this book. There is a fictional Crime Today magazine serial of 9 articles discussing how a serial murderer comes to be. Basically he gives away who the bad guy is from the get go, but is still able to keep the suspense at high levels in tracking the path throughout the serial articles and the narrative. Very challenging to pull off, yet he does it very well.

My only critiques lie with the medical aspects, which play into the plot prominently. He has done his research well, and it is all written well and believably. My problem is that I am a physician assistant, so I can see a few minor inaccuracies. Aren’t I picky? I’m sure that it won’t be a problem for any other readers.

Overall, this book has reminded me of why Ted Dekker is the premier Christian suspense author today. He deftly handles issues of darkness and light and is a master of drawing his reader into the the battle that ensues. I highly recommend this book, and I’ve got a new itch to read more of Dekker’s work.

CFBA Tour: Adam

Ted Dekker doesn’t need much introduction in the realm of Christian fiction. If any readers here think that a book from Christian fiction authors aren’t worth checking out, then his new book Adam is very likely to change your mind.

I’ve enjoyed the other books of his that I’ve read (Blink, Thr3e, and Showdown). I have been busy enough with reading that I’ve haven’t managed to read every one of his books. He has a powerful imagination and loves to explore the tension between good and evil.

Adam is the latest book to examine this theme. From the back cover:

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psyche.

I’m not a person who reads a book in one sitting, but I really wish I could have with Adam. He knows how to capture an audience and hold them to their seats, knuckles white from gripping the book. The main characters all suffer from some obsession, and the individual reactions to the scenario are intriguing. As they work together to hunt down the serial killer “Eve”, the tension ratchets up to a surprising turn of events that throws the book from being a taut thriller about tracking a murderer to something much more haunting and personal.

Dekker’s writing is fast-paced, and there is not a lot of flowery exposition – he hits the action hard and keeps the plot moving. He uses an interesting technique in this book. There is a fictional Crime Today magazine serial of 9 articles discussing how a serial murderer comes to be. Basically he gives away who the bad guy is from the get go, but is still able to keep the suspense at high levels in tracking the path throughout the serial articles and the narrative. Very challenging to pull off, yet he does it very well.

My only critiques lie with the medical aspects, which play into the plot prominently. He has done his research well, and it is all written well and believably. My problem is that I am a physician assistant, so I can see a few minor inaccuracies. Aren’t I picky? I’m sure that it won’t be a problem for any other readers.

Overall, this book has reminded me of why Ted Dekker is the premier Christian suspense author today. He deftly handles issues of darkness and light and is a master of drawing his reader into the the battle that ensues. I highly recommend this book, and I’ve got a new itch to read more of Dekker’s work.

Thoughts on The Shadow and Night

I had to chime in a little more on the blog tour for The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. I confessed on Sunday that I had only read about 125 pages, so I couldn’t give an accurate review of the whole book. I wanted to see what people were saying about the book before I opened my mouth and filled it with shoe leather (doesn’t sound filling this week).

I’m glad that I did. It seems a lot of people really enjoyed the book. One of the major things from other blog posts and the comments to my first post is that, yes the book may start slow, but around page 150 it really picked up. So I’ve determined to read a little farther to see if I can get into it.

In my last post I listed all of my CSFF colleagues for your linkage pleasure. Today there are three that I’d like to highlight.

Author Christopher Hopper had a thoughtful review that discussed both positive and negative aspects, without total gushing or bashing. Also check out the comments to this link, as he’s kind enough to answer a question of mine about catching a reader quick versus a slow burn.

John Otte gave a great primer on end times and millennialism, as this is a major foundation for the plot. A good quick overview even for those just curious about the various types of end times views out there. In other posts he discusses his review and ideas about sin brought up by the book. Well worth reading.

CSFF’s other John, John Ottinger (what are the odds?), gives a very positive review of the book and makes a case in support of the book’s slower start.

I wish I could’ve participated more, both in having read the book as well as having time to check out other blogs. Like I said, I’m going to give the book a little more time to see if I can get into it. I will say that I’m not enamored by his writing style, but perhaps when the conflict really takes off I will see the intensity of the trouble for main characters Merral and Vero, which seems to be a really big part of what others like. Perhaps I can add a follow up post later on.

My one other comment has also been repeated elsewhere in the tour. The book is listed as “A Fantasy in the Tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.” I found this quite misleading and presumptuous, as 1. it is not a fantasy, and 2. I don’t think it is fair or accurate to suggest this book is to the level of Lewis or Tolkien. Not a turn off for me, but hopefully the marketers will be a little more thoughtful in this aspect in the future.

If you’re curious, please go to my last post and check out others’ posts on this book!

Thoughts on The Shadow and Night

I had to chime in a little more on the blog tour for The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. I confessed on Sunday that I had only read about 125 pages, so I couldn’t give an accurate review of the whole book. I wanted to see what people were saying about the book before I opened my mouth and filled it with shoe leather (doesn’t sound filling this week).

I’m glad that I did. It seems a lot of people really enjoyed the book. One of the major things from other blog posts and the comments to my first post is that, yes the book may start slow, but around page 150 it really picked up. So I’ve determined to read a little farther to see if I can get into it.

In my last post I listed all of my CSFF colleagues for your linkage pleasure. Today there are three that I’d like to highlight.

Author Christopher Hopper had a thoughtful review that discussed both positive and negative aspects, without total gushing or bashing. Also check out the comments to this link, as he’s kind enough to answer a question of mine about catching a reader quick versus a slow burn.

John Otte gave a great primer on end times and millennialism, as this is a major foundation for the plot. A good quick overview even for those just curious about the various types of end times views out there. In other posts he discusses his review and ideas about sin brought up by the book. Well worth reading.

CSFF’s other John, John Ottinger (what are the odds?), gives a very positive review of the book and makes a case in support of the book’s slower start.

I wish I could’ve participated more, both in having read the book as well as having time to check out other blogs. Like I said, I’m going to give the book a little more time to see if I can get into it. I will say that I’m not enamored by his writing style, but perhaps when the conflict really takes off I will see the intensity of the trouble for main characters Merral and Vero, which seems to be a really big part of what others like. Perhaps I can add a follow up post later on.

My one other comment has also been repeated elsewhere in the tour. The book is listed as “A Fantasy in the Tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.” I found this quite misleading and presumptuous, as 1. it is not a fantasy, and 2. I don’t think it is fair or accurate to suggest this book is to the level of Lewis or Tolkien. Not a turn off for me, but hopefully the marketers will be a little more thoughtful in this aspect in the future.

If you’re curious, please go to my last post and check out others’ posts on this book!

CSFF Blog Tour – The Shadow and Night

This month’s CSFF blog tour is focusing on Chris Walley’s book from a few years ago entitled The Shadow and Night. I actually bought a version that includes books 1 and 2 (The Power of Night) of the Lamb Among the Stars trilogy, although this tour is focusing on just the first book.

I am reluctant to fully dive into discussing the book. I’ve only gotten to about page 125 out of 296, so I don’t feel like I can fully comment on it. However, I have had a particularly hard time getting into the book, and I’ve got some major reservations so far on what I have read. I know that I’ve read other books that took a while to get into, but this one is different so far. I would encourage you to check out my fellow tourmates listed below, as I will be doing this week. I may post more detail about why I’ve had a hard time reading this book depending on my time and what I see on the tour.

You can also check out Chris Walley’s site and blog for more information.

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Rebecca Grabill
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Heather R. Hunt
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

CSFF Blog Tour – The Shadow and Night

This month’s CSFF blog tour is focusing on Chris Walley’s book from a few years ago entitled The Shadow and Night. I actually bought a version that includes books 1 and 2 (The Power of Night) of the Lamb Among the Stars trilogy, although this tour is focusing on just the first book.

I am reluctant to fully dive into discussing the book. I’ve only gotten to about page 125 out of 296, so I don’t feel like I can fully comment on it. However, I have had a particularly hard time getting into the book, and I’ve got some major reservations so far on what I have read. I know that I’ve read other books that took a while to get into, but this one is different so far. I would encourage you to check out my fellow tourmates listed below, as I will be doing this week. I may post more detail about why I’ve had a hard time reading this book depending on my time and what I see on the tour.

You can also check out Chris Walley’s site and blog for more information.

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Rebecca Grabill
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Heather R. Hunt
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

CFBA Tour – My Name Is Russell Fink

I’m excited this week to discuss the new book My Name Is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder for the CFBA book tour.

I spent time from 2005 – 2006 hanging out at faith*in*fiction, a blog and forum established by Bethany House editor Dave Long. There was great discussion on the issues affecting Christian fiction. One of the clever folks that were there was Mr. Mike Snyder. We heard a little of the development of his book at that time. I’m glad to say that the fruition of his initial effort is well-worth the read.

The book follows the titular Russell Fink through some mis adventures as we see life through his eyes. He is dealing with a job he detests, a severe bout of hypochondria (stemming from his twin dying of cancer as a child and his fear of sneaky cancer cells), a clingy fiancee, and his televangelist father trying to overcome past scandal. Along the way he finds a way to move out of his parents’ house, investigates the apparent murder of his beloved dog Sonny, and meets an old flame who stirs some passion into this drifter.

The strength of this book is the writing. As I mentioned the clever folks from f*i*f before, Snyder was one of the tops in that category. His writing sparkles with wit and whimsy. You never know where he is going to turn next, from whiskey-soaked dog biscuits to microwaving oranges and breaking into zoos (see, you’ll just have to read it to figure out what all that means). At first Russell is a hard character to like, since he is so passive and basically irresponsible in all of his conflicts. However, as he slowly grows into accepting some responsibility and starts to make a change in his life, you start pulling for him. All the time, the writing keeps you on your toes and with a grin on your face.

The plot suffers a little confusion at the end, and I couldn’t always follow where certain threads came or went, or if all of the major plot points were resolved. There is one point I want to write the author to ask him about, it was such a dangling string. Still, I can recommend this book because, even if isn’t fully sure of where it is going, the journey there is a lot of fun by the enjoyable writing. I look forward to seeing where Michael Snyder goes from here, having his first book under his collar…I mean belt.

CFBA Tour – My Name Is Russell Fink

I’m excited this week to discuss the new book My Name Is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder for the CFBA book tour.

I spent time from 2005 – 2006 hanging out at faith*in*fiction, a blog and forum established by Bethany House editor Dave Long. There was great discussion on the issues affecting Christian fiction. One of the clever folks that were there was Mr. Mike Snyder. We heard a little of the development of his book at that time. I’m glad to say that the fruition of his initial effort is well-worth the read.

The book follows the titular Russell Fink through some mis adventures as we see life through his eyes. He is dealing with a job he detests, a severe bout of hypochondria (stemming from his twin dying of cancer as a child and his fear of sneaky cancer cells), a clingy fiancee, and his televangelist father trying to overcome past scandal. Along the way he finds a way to move out of his parents’ house, investigates the apparent murder of his beloved dog Sonny, and meets an old flame who stirs some passion into this drifter.

The strength of this book is the writing. As I mentioned the clever folks from f*i*f before, Snyder was one of the tops in that category. His writing sparkles with wit and whimsy. You never know where he is going to turn next, from whiskey-soaked dog biscuits to microwaving oranges and breaking into zoos (see, you’ll just have to read it to figure out what all that means). At first Russell is a hard character to like, since he is so passive and basically irresponsible in all of his conflicts. However, as he slowly grows into accepting some responsibility and starts to make a change in his life, you start pulling for him. All the time, the writing keeps you on your toes and with a grin on your face.

The plot suffers a little confusion at the end, and I couldn’t always follow where certain threads came or went, or if all of the major plot points were resolved. There is one point I want to write the author to ask him about, it was such a dangling string. Still, I can recommend this book because, even if isn’t fully sure of where it is going, the journey there is a lot of fun by the enjoyable writing. I look forward to seeing where Michael Snyder goes from here, having his first book under his collar…I mean belt.