Eagle Designs
Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com; http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com) is an “occasional radio show host” (www.blogtalkradio.com/communicatethevision) and an award-winning author of more than thirty books, including the popular Extreme Devotion series from New Hope Publishers and Valeria’s Cross, co-authored with Susan Wales and releasing from Abingdon Press in September 2010.

Do You Have Issues with Fiction?
(If Not, Maybe You Should!)

My first novel had scarcely been out for a year when I was asked to teach a class on fiction writing at a Christian writers’ conference in 1989. It wasn’t that my novel was selling so well, but my women’s devotional that had released at almost the same time was selling beyond our wildest expectations and being reprinted as fast as they could keep the presses rolling, so my name was hot at the moment. Unfortunately, the conference didn’t need anyone to teach a class on devotional writing, but Christian fiction? No one wanted to touch it! After all, as I heard more times than I could count, “Why would you want to write fiction? As a Christian, I believe we should write something more serious.”

Now for all you fairly new-to-CBA writers, that sort of attitude is hard to fathom. Everyone wants to write fiction now, Christian or otherwise. But quite obviously it hasn’t always been so. In those days, a lot of people had issues with Christian fiction, and they certainly weren’t positive ones!

However, I accepted the challenge and ended up with exactly two people in my class. Discouraging? Absolutely! With my own passion to write fiction flickering in the winds of criticism and disapproval, I wondered if the trend would ever change. Needless to say, it has, and though I haven’t ruled out writing more nonfiction books in the future, right now my focus is almost entirely on fiction. But does the Christian reading world’s current romance with novels mean that writers—even good ones—are assured of success? Not by a long shot!

Good writing is a given, and great writing should be our goal. But even that isn’t enough if we don’t hit on the right topic/approach at the right time. And our readership can be fickle. Though there will always be an audience for romance books, not all of us do well at that genre. Historical novels run in cycles—in one day, out the next. Chick lit or fantasy may be the order of the day when you begin your novel, yet completely passé by the time you’re done. And though we all love those sweet stories of the Amish, how long can “bonnet fiction” survive before it too is replaced with a newer and more popular trend?

That’s the problem. We Christian writers like to think of ourselves as being on the “cutting edge,” but are we? Are we really setting the trends, or simply trying to jump on someone else’s bandwagon, only to discover it’s already overloaded and the wheels are coming off?

I enjoy reading and writing suspense and mystery, so I tried my hand at a trilogy a few years ago. It did passably well, but I quickly realized I wasn’t a Brandilyn Collins or Terri Blackstock, so I asked myself just who Kathi Macias was as a fiction writer. That’s when I realized that although I liked suspense and mystery, and even some chick lit and bonnet fiction, they weren’t my passion. I’m an issues person. Whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, my desire is to minister to people who are dealing with issues of some sort—divorce, loss of a child, betrayal, AIDS, human suffering of nearly any kind. With that focus, I began to hone the stories that the Creator who knew and loved me before the foundation of the world had already birthed in my heart.

The result was my current series from New Hope Publishers, a house that never did fiction before—until they heard about my idea for an Extreme Devotion series, four novels loosely based on true accounts of those who suffer for their faith in other countries. It turns out that New Hope had long hoped for something that would fit their dream of launching a “fiction with a mission” line, and my issue-related proposal fit the bill to a “T.” In addition, we have just contracted for a second series, this time based on the topic of human trafficking, an issue that both the publisher and I feel strongly about. Even my stand-alone historical, Valeria’s Cross from Abingdon Press, is issues-related in that it deals with the challenges and suffering that can result from holding to our first allegiance to Christ, much like the characters depicted in my contemporary Extreme Devotion series.

It isn’t the settings or characters or even the story lines that tie all my new novels together, but rather the very real issues of human suffering, whether as a direct result of our faith in Christ or as a catalyst to bring us to Him. These aren’t light issues and not easily defined or described. The research has been and continues to be intensive and often emotionally draining. But my agent said something to me the other day that strengthened my determination to continue writing tough, issue-related fiction: “You’re writing fiction that matters.”

Exactly. It matters to me because God designed me that way. It also matters to those whose lives my books will somehow touch and change.

And that’s true, whatever direction God takes you in your fiction writing. Forget about the current trends and overloaded bandwagons, and ask Him to help you identify and pursue the passion He’s put in your heart. After all, there’s room in Christian fiction for lots of issues, and when they’re God-driven, they will fulfill the purpose He has intended.

Valeria's Cross