Friday, December 15, 2006

Christian Publishing

Sometimes it takes me awhile to get around the blogosphere. Today I traveled over to Michael Hyatt's blog From Where I Sit. He is the President and CEO of Thomas Nelson. On Monday he discussed their publishing standards in a great post.

People often ask me what it means to be in Christian publishing. I am an infant in this journey, but Mr. Hyatt identifies my heart's cry in his post.

I want to write fantastic books that pull people through the story. My books will always have a Christian perspective because...I'm a Christian. I wouldn't know how to divorce that core part of me from my books even if I tried.

However, that doesn't mean each book will have a conversion scene. In fact, to date, none of them do. I refuse to shoe-horn that in just to meet somebody's expectations.

Instead, I pray and agonize over what the spiritual theme of each book is. Sometimes it's very clear. Other times, it's more opaque. A recent book I read published by a Westbow, a Thomas Nelson imprint, is a great example of this.

Germ is Robert Liparulo's latest book. I'll post a review of it next week. For teaser purposes, let me just say if you love Tom Clancy, you will inhale this book. But here's the thing. The main characters. None of them are Christians. Not even an inkling at the end that they become Christians. And that's okay. The book would have been forced if he'd had to cram that in. Instead, he writes a slam bam fantastic book if you like thrillers. Eric and I both enjoyed this book immensely, though if you're the teensiest bit queasy skip the first chapter. It's about ebola. Enough said. (PS, if you're still looking for a Christmas gift for people who love to read thrillers, run to your nearest Christian bookstore, Borders, CBD, etc., and buy this book!)

But those are the kind of books I want to write. Canteen Dreams has a very strong message. Both main characters are wrestling with what it means to lay down your life for your brother. One takes it to extremes. The other thinks he can't because he isn't allowed to serve as a soldier. They both come to realize it's about a lot more than just dying for someone else.

In Fort Robinson Summer (I need help with the title, folks), the main characters wrestle with where is God when your dreams and plans aren't the ones He chooses for you. Can anyone relate with me?

In Captive Dreams, the proposal I'm working on this week, the theme will be more along the lines of learning to love our enemies completely. Hey, it just seems to flow when prisoners of war are secondary characters. I have a feeling it may flow into addressing prejudice as well. Yikes! That's a lot for a 45,000 word book.

Finally, with my legal thriller, I'm still working on the theme. That'll come in January. But I think it's going to deal with believing God through our disappointments. Can you sense a theme here?

So what about you? If you're a reader, how do you like your spiritual themes in book? Liberally applied or lightly sprinkled? If you're a writer, how do you find your themes? Do you agree with Mr. Hyatt, or do you think Christian books should be more "forced" (truly for lack of a better word, though I know my bias shows with that word!)?


Jonah said...

I like Dog Day Dreams.

Cara Putman said...

Joanna, that's great! The book originally started out with Dog Days of Summer as the title, but I decided at the 11th hour that it didn't give any indication of romance. Some of my critique buds have suggested Captive Dreams for the third proposal in the series, so Dog Day Dreams could work. Another option for the Ft. Robinson book might be Sandhills Dreams. Who knows what will stick if the editor and publisher decide they like the concept.


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