Looks like we’ll have a 3-part interview. I’ve just got too much great stuff here! Thanks, Steve!
Before we get to the questions submitted last time, let’s pick up at the point where I was being taught proper ettiquite, right before backpedalling out of the ditch I’d dug myself…
Mick: Okay, fine. It was unfair to suggest this industry cares more about standards and safety than feeding the hungry. I really can’t paint the canvas with such broad strokes. (I might as well have asked whether you think Presbyterians are the bigger dope fiends, or the Baptists.) Ahem! What I meant was, do you think I’d get further with this line of argument as a published, critically-acclaimed fiction writer who did his homework and waited to get a few publishing credits before whining about the derth of edgy fiction in the market?
Steve: HA! There are a number of successful Christian fiction writers who decry the dearth of edgy fiction. If you have a chance, read Brandilyn Collins blog which is detailing her humble beginnings, step by step (http://www.forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com). It is a fascinating study of a writer who was heavily criticized for having a character who had Visions. That was considered very edgy at the time. But Zondervan published it and now the boundary has expanded to include books “like that.”
But to answer your question more specifically … Yes, it would help to gain credibility for any criticism. Otherwise it can appear to be simply a case of sour grapes.
Just today I had a publisher reject a manuscript with these words “Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a fit for [us]. Probably a little too literary for our current program.” Am I upset? Not at all. I thought it might be a stretch for them and hoped I could take the “edge” of their boundary and move it. Didn’t work this time. It wasn’t the subject matter, but the writing style, that was rejected.
Whiny statements like, “CBA won’t publish my stuff because they only publish pabulum.” or “CBA houses are myopic and rigid. They deserve to be marginalized.” Read this article from Publisher’s Weekly written a couple years ago, it will serve to heighten the debate: http://print.google.com/print/doc?articleid=jbuPDeh9ZH (especially the section about Author Migration).
Never assume that the publishers are unaware of the challenge. The way to make it happen is to vote with your pocket book. If you find a great, edgy Christian novel or a great Christian Science Fiction, whatever, BUY IT. Sales will be the only thing that tells a publisher that this type of novel works. If it doesn’t sell it doesn’t matter how edgy it is or how well written, it is a commercial failure.
Keep those questions coming while we’ve still got his ear. Next part here: http://mywritersgroup.typepad.com/yourwritersgroup/2005/04/interview_with__3.html