A buzz word for writers of Christian fiction in the past few years has been “crossover fiction.” This is fiction written by Christians for the general market reader, the one who may not be a Christian. This fiction doesn’t use overt religious references but may follow a Christian theme.
A remark at a Christian writers’ conference that I attended suggested another audience. A marketing session focused on the characteristics of readers who buy Christian fiction. “But,” someone said, “I know Christians who don’t read Christian fiction. They prefer secular fiction.”
Why do some Christians not read “Christian” fiction? Does it not seem deep enough? Do the themes or subject matter not vibrate with these readers? Do they think the resolutions of problems are unrealistic? Too much preaching? Do they want edgier themes?
I’m exploring reaching a certain subset of readers, not, of course, suggesting we turn off already successful Christian literature that reaches millions. Instead, I’m suggesting fiction that can be added to what we already have. Perhaps such stories involve subtlety and the proper nuances to make us pause and think or cause us to lose ourselves in it, attracted by a sensation deeper than suspense. It may not be the stories we rush through for the conclusion but rather the ones that cause us to pause and ponder.
We’ve been told to find our niche as writers, the slice of readers for whom we write. Perhaps we should explore those readers, Christians, who don’t normally read what is known as “Christian” fiction.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home, Quiet Deception, Distant Thunder and A Sense of Mission (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research).