I’m going to be making a few changes in the coming months, and I’m hoping you’ll come with me. Actually, I won’t be changing, but the external appearance of some of my books will be.
Let me back up.
I’ve mentioned before that when I wrote my first novel, Afton of Margate Castle, I was writing for the world at large, not specifically to a Christian audience. Because I’m a believer in Christ, my Christian values are part of my stories, but in that first book I wasn’t attempting to cater to a believing readership.
And then I learned that since I was writing for Christian publishers whose books were sold in Christian bookstores (which only a small fraction of professing Christians ever actually patronize), maybe I should try to gear my writing to a specific audience. So I did change my focus a bit. I wrote about “Christian problems”–legalism, how we cope with suffering, when we rebel against God’s sovereign will, how we should deal with bioethical issues, etc.
But still, my tendency has always been to write parables–stories that work as a story on one level, but have an underlying spiritual message. Jesus taught in parables, so it it worked for him . . .
Since my salad days, I’ve written both kinds of books–books geared more for Christians (the Fairlawn books would fall into this category, also The Debt) and books geared more for the world at large. The first category usually features a believing protagonist who is struggling to live out her faith in the world, just as we all are. The second category usually features an agnostic character who either comes to faith or deals with faith elements in an allegorical way (The Elevator; The Face, The Awakening, etc.)
I’ll be honest–it always makes me grimace when someone reviews one of my parable books online and chides me for not being “Christian enough.” The elements are there, but they have been carefully laid beneath the obvious story. And writers are all different, and we all write the stories the Lord has given us.
In any case, on to the changes: I have a contract with Steeple Hill, which is the inspirational imprint for Harlequin Publishing. I was thrilled to sign with them because most of Steeple Hill’s sales are outside of traditional Christian outlets and my desire has always been to get my stories out to the world. My editors–whom I trust– have recently decided to move me into another Harlequin imprint–one that is not aimed at the Christian market.
Please understand–my books are not changing. My style, my messages, my high-concept plots will all remain the same (and boy, do I have a dilly of a plot planned next!). But in a few months “The Elevator” will be released as a Mira title in “mass market” format–the smaller size paperback that you see in bookstores, at the grocery store, and in Wal-Mart. “The Face” will be released later this year in the same format. Same novel, different size. Different imprint.
Here’s where you come in–if you hear that I have “crossed over” and left my Christian stories behind, know that nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve not sold out, wigged out, or burned out. I’m just moving into a new and uncharted (ahem) area.
I’m a little thrilled to think that my stories will be on the racks with stories of mayhem and who-knows-what-all. I hope they don’t get lost, and I hope my readers will track them down.
I have never had a grand career plan with long-term goals. I have always approached this writing thing one contract at a time, writing the stories God either gave me or sent my way. And I know that God doesn’t make mistakes, so this is His will and His perfect timing.
So, hang with me, will you? My Fairlawn books will still finish up with Tyndale; nothing’s changing there. But if you see The Elevator or The Face in a spinning rack with books that may not be your first choice, don’t be stunned, be excited! I certainly am.
One more thing–all signs look good for more Heavenly Daze books, but I won’t be writing them because I’m concentrating on my high-concept stories. Lori will soon be talking to another talented novelist with a flair for small town humor, and I have high hopes for their collaboration. I wish them all the best . . . and I can’t wait to see what those zany townspeople are up to next!
Hugs from Mt. Hermon,