I don’t know about you, but when people talk about ‘Christian fiction’ my heart tends to sink. Who wants to read a pie in the sky story with a heavy dose of sermonising and saccharine thrown in for good measure? And isn’t ‘Christian fiction’ an oxymoron? Surely the point of Christianity is that it calls its followers to tell the truth, speak the truth into every situation and follow the One who calls himself ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6).
I am a writer and I am a Christian. Although I’m writing for the general market, I’ve found it impossible not to let my world view filter through my writing. And that’s because I believe the universe has meaning, purpose and design from the most infinitesimal particle to the vast cosmic expanses of space and time. Not for me the pick and mix world where we all make it up as we go along and live in our own bubbles of subjective truth!
Now that I’ve been published by a Christian publisher, I have to come to terms with the fact that my books fall under the Christian fiction category, and during the last year I’ve begun to have a look around and see what other authors in the genre are creating. It’s been a revelation!
Christian authors are writing great books. Intelligent, imaginative, uplifting, thought-provoking, risk-taking books. These books tackle difficult issues head on, portraying the sins people don’t want to speak about in church in a non-gratuitous way. They portray the messiness of life through characters from diverse ethnic, cultural and geographical backgrounds, exposing the grittiness of life and the marvel of grace and redemption. Christian messages are woven in organically as a natural extension to character and plot. They are books that can be read and enjoyed by anyone, not just Christians, and leave the reader enriched and challenged.
It’s my very great pleasure to introduce one such author, Katherine Blessan, whose writing has been deeply influenced by the years she spent teaching in Cambodia. Living in an impoverished country and seeing so much injustice around her, including child-sex trafficking, was the catalyst for the themes and issues in her first novel, Lydia’s Song. It’s a powerful story about child prostitution in Cambodia seen through the eyes of a young Vietnamese girl who is sold into slavery by a man she should have been able to trust.
Katherine has written the story in two halves. The first is from the point of view of Lydia, a young and idealistic English teacher working in a school in Cambodia. When she finds Song in her garden late at night scavenging for food, she brings her into her home and into her heart. Unable to formally adopt the child, Lydia nevertheless takes on the responsibility of becoming Song’s ‘mother’. There’s a sense of impending doom when a handsome young man charms himself into their lives and into Lydia’s heart.
The second half of the book tells Song’s story. It’s a heartrending account of innocence brutally snatched from a child. The book does not pull its punches as it describes the nonchalant evil of the perpetrators of this sickening trade in human flesh. I don’t want to give any more spoilers away except to say that ‘Lydia’s Song’ is a gripping and challenging read which concludes with a message of hope.
Humanity is deeply flawed. Fiction that speaks the truth should include characters who are damaged and who suffer at the hands of others who are also flawed and damaged. Good stories entertain us, but great stories also open our eyes, change our perceptions, and encourage us to fight for a better world. Jesus died a messy death to save us from our messy lives. Let’s not shy away from stories which depict difficult issues. They can also offer a picture of faith through suffering and joy through pain.
Lydia’s Song is a work of fiction, but it contains truths: truths about fallen humanity and truths about God. I love reading real life testimonies about how God is working today in people’s lives, but I also love stories which share spiritual insights and I believe there’s a place for them on our bookshelves. After all, the greatest teller of stories with spiritual meaning is Jesus Christ himself through his parables.
It’s an honour to be kicking off Katherine’s Blog Tour. Why not follow her journey as she travels through the blogosphere, catching up with her again here on Wednesday 26 July when I have the privilege of interviewing her. As well as writing, Katherine works as an English and Creative Writing tutor and an Examiner, together with juggling parenting and volunteering in the community. She is married to Blessan – yes, her surname is his first name! – and they travel widely and love to meet new people. Katherine lives with her family in Sheffield, UK.
Katherine tweets @kathblessan
Check out her website at: http://www.katherineblessan.com/
Other stories by Katherine Blessan include:
- ‘A Heart on Fire’ – a love story inspired by Chariots of Fire. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Fire-Katherine-Blessan-ebook/dp/B06XD2D2FV
- ‘Travels by Wheelchair’ was shortlisted in a Patrician Press competition in 2016 and published in an anthology. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Refugees-Peacekeepers-Patrician-Press-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01MUG2YIV/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499980922&sr=1-1&keywords=refugees+and+peacekeepers
- ‘Beyond her Scream’ – a story of a mother-daughter relationship strained by the effects of FGM. Short Story Beyond Her Scream from cutalongstory.com