Some turning points in our lives
stick with us. For me, during 2000, a slow transition took place on my
beloved bookshelf. For many years, family and friends never saw me—the
avid bookworm—without a book. But somewhere around 1998, a stirring
dissatisfaction grew in my spirit. Back then I still was a babe in
Christ, on fire and struggling with things I needed to let go. It soon
became apparent to me that authors and books that used to appeal to me
were now a problem. So, I stopped reading fiction until one day a dear
friend introduced me to a book.
I admit to judging the book by
its cover. I know you should never do this, but hey, I’m a graphic
designer, and some book covers have serious issues. But I digress. Let
me make it clear, this book’s design, to this day, covers one of my all
time favorite books.
The young African American woman
captured my attention. I immediately knew this story took place in a
time that was not friendly to people of color. She held a bag in her
hand and appeared to be leaving a place where she had experienced pain
but loved. Although I grew up after the civil rights movement, I
certainly didn’t grow up in a bubble. From a young age, I understood
the world treated certain people differently.
As a newbie Christian, I wasn’t
sure if I wanted to read a book that dredged up history. That was one
excuse. Another was that I loved mystery and suspense, and reading
historical fiction was not something I ordinarily did. Finally, I
cracked the book open and started reading.
I read, wept, grew angry, wept,
and fell in love.
Sharon Ewell Foster’s
Christy Award winning book, Passing by Samaria,
catapulted my love for Christian fiction. She was one of a few women
authors with Walk Worthy Press who wrote outside the Christian fiction
box. Almost ten years later, multicultural Christian fiction is a
phenomenon that continues to amaze and astound me. Now I look at my
bookshelves (that often need to be transitioned due to my life as a
book reviewer), I truly enjoy seeing the vast array of African American
authors. It’s encouraging to me as a reader as well as a writer.
Despite the strides that have been made, a barrier still exists.
I’ve been a Christian fiction
book reviewer since 2001, and I have written hundreds of book reviews
for ChristianBookwormReviews.com. As of 2006, I officially started
writing Christian fiction and eventually learned of CBA and ABA. Many
of the books I review are from CBA publishers. In the past few years,
I’ve noticed books with edgier storylines, grittier scenes, more
realistic characters, and even taboo topics are being explored. These
books have a faith factor, but not much preachiness, which is
What I have not read enough of
are characters who look like me or even have my experiences as an
African American woman. Sharon Ewell Foster continues to write
beautiful, grace-filled novels, as well as a host of others under CBA
like Marilynn Griffith, Stacy Hawkins-Adams, Claudia Mair Burney, Linda
Leigh Hargrove, Tia McCollors, and Kendra Norman-Bellamy. The vast
majority of multicultural Christian fiction is published under ABA.
Nothing wrong with that, but why such a small percentage in CBA?
I’ve pondered this, as I know
others have too. Let’s keep it real; we know publishers are interested
in selling books. I’m not sure why CBA publishers don’t notice the
explosion of African American literature and how we devour good books.
So, I want to look at this question from a different angle. It’s easy
to jump on the publisher, but who’s buying the books?
If you read Christian fiction,
do you judge a book by its cover? Are you stuck on reading only certain
types of books? I can be honest. I love mystery and suspense. But
sometimes it is good for my development as a reader and a writer to
read outside my comfort-zone box. It’s good for me to read historical,
chick lit, or even fantasy/speculative fiction every now and then. And
Let me give you an example of a
recent “phenomenon.” A few months ago, Angela Benson toured with CFBA
for her book Up Pops the Devil. It was a book
several participants would never ordinarily pick up to read because the
main character was a former drug dealer and now ex-convict. Once
readers went past their
hesitation, their responses to the book were very positive.
Let me urge you to read a book
outside of your normal reading habits. When I do, I am blessed by the
experience. In fact, why not make it part of your New Year’s resolution
for 2009? To help you get started, I’ve listed some new and upcoming
multicultural Christian fiction titles to consider:
• My Son’s Wife
by Shelia Lipsey (Urban Christian— In Stores Now)
• My Father’s House by Dijorn Moss (Urban
Christian—In Stores Now)
• Now and Then, Again by Bonnie Hopkins (Walk
Worthy Press—November 2008)
• Talk to Me by Pat Simmons (Urban Christian -
• Married Strangers by Dwan Abrams (Urban
• The Bishop’s Daughter by Tiffany Warren (Grand
Central Publishing—January 2009)
• The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams (Revell
• Illusions by Wanda Campbell (Urban
• The List by Sherri Lewis (Urban Christian—March
I invite you to visit my blog,
TyoraMoody.com, as I journey toward publication. Also, check out
WrittenVoicesBlog.com as I highlight “African American Literature That
Edifies the Soul.”