CBA (Christian Bookseller Association) Fiction has unstated rules of form and content. (No swearing, drinking, sleeping around, or getting divorced. A conversion in the third act is preferable.) CBA Fiction faces ridicule because these rules open the novels and novelists up to accusations of being cliched. Unfortunately, these accusations are often quite valid. Too many novels coming out in the CBA market are ignoring the world outside for a glossy, sterilized reality where the promise of a happy ending sugarcoats everything.
The problem most general market readers have with religious fiction isn’t that it’s about religion. What grates on them is the notion that the sole function of the book they are reading is to convert them. Whether or not this is the case in the author’s writing, a book whose core plot is a conversion story is far more likely to be seen as an evangelical tool than a book that offers a glimpse into the heart of someone who already is a Christian.
Stories that follow the lives, struggles, triumphs, heartaches, joys, and wonder of Christians will be read—so long as they are honest, true-to-life, and well-written. The newest generation is the first to have a significant portion raised outside the church. Post-modern culture means the end of black-and-white absolutes. Edgy Inspirational Fiction examines the lives of Christians through new eyes, almost with a sociologic mindset. Their novels portray the world for what it is—not for the way they want it to be.
Clearly, obviously, there is a market out there for tender, uplifting, evangelical fiction. CBA book sales establish this irrefutable fact. But there are also readers out there who don’t necessarily want a conversion scene in every novel they read, yet who also don’t want to read about mainstream characters who live outside the reader’s value system. They are looking for a compelling, gritty novel about Christians who are flawed, tempted, imperfect and who willfully do things they know they aren’t suppose to do. Who have already accepted Christ and are wondering, "Then why the heck is my life so messed up?" They are looking for a character whose shoes they can slip on. Maybe even a novel that they can share with their non-Christian friend.
Authors of Edgy Inspirational Fiction hope to meet that need.
For more, read the following: