Hear ye, hear ye, LET BE KNOWN—We writers of contemporary Christian fiction (meaning that we’re writing today, no matter what genre we choose) are tired of being compared to Dead People and found wanting.
Dead People did not write for our audience—few of them imagined that our audience could even exist. Our readers have grown up with television, movies, DVDs by mail, Ti-Vo, streaming audio and video, DVD players in the car. Our readers have an attention span of about 20 minutes, tops. (And so do I!) Our readers have vocabularies that Dead People would not recognize. Our readers may not know what eleemosynary means, but Dead People wouldn’t know how to interpret you da bom.
Dead People would not sell in today’s market. Living People prefers prose that moves and has punch. Living People cope with cluttered days, our clocks move at a more frenetic pace. Living People write for publishers who pay a higher price for paper, and we compete not only with TV and movies, but with video games, web surfing, iPods, and time necessarily spent at the mall.
Instead of holding up Conrad, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and even C.S. Lewis, let’s talk about our contemporaries: Koontz, King, Picoult, Elizabeth Berg, Phillippa Gregory. Let’s encourage writers to write with the skill of Koontz, the verve of King, the research of Picoult, the passion of Berg, the historical detail of Gregory.
We can’t—and we shouldn’t—compete with Dead People because we aren’t writing for Dead People. The average man on the street today is more likely to choose a living author than a dead one. Look at the NYT best-seller list, and my point is proved.
My favorite scene from a Star Trek movie? Star Trek Four, the one with the whales. Kirk is talking to Spock about classic literature and he says something about “the collected works of Jacqueline Susann.” It’s funny hyperbole, but it still makes a point.
Climbing down from the soapbox; finished pounding my keys,