One of my reasons for this is because I don't just want Christians reading my books. Honestly, I just don't see some average nonChristian Joe...or Joe-ette...walking into a book store or library and picking up something from the "Inspirational" section.
The other reason is because I really don't know whether or not I'd like to be classified as a Christian author is because there's a LOT of Christian fiction out there that...well...sucks. I've had this conversation with several of my friends, and most of them agree with me. Christian fiction doesn't have a good reputation.
But I've decided I need to actually read a little bit of Christian fiction before saying it all stinks. I'd been meaning to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers for many years, and I finally did read it a few weeks ago.
I was actually a little stunned (in a good way) at the honesty of this book. The book plays on the story of Hosea from the Bible, which is really the only reason I was interested in reading it. I don't like romance for the sake of romance, but this book wasn't mainly a romance--at least not one between two people. This story was a very honest story about God drawing His children back to Himself.
The main female character, Angel, is a prostitute. While there was nothing at all graphic or crude, Rivers didn't make light of her horrible past/present situations. There were times when it was uncomfortable for me to read, but I actually appreciated those times because they made the book/characters more real.
The human love story (as well as the Divine) begins with a man named Michael Hosea. He was also a very real character. Rivers didn't make him just some lovey-dovey man who easily forgave Angel. He did forgive her, but he dealt with the pain and anger realistically, all the while loving this woman who felt entirely unlovable.
There are other characters and situations that were difficult to read, but they were so honest that I couldn't help but love this book. There were some stylistic problems I had--such as Rivers jumping the point of view from character to character without any notice. Sometimes I had to figure out whose brain I was reading. I also was underwhelmed by a very matter-of-fact and unnecessary epilogue.
But I think Rivers has shown that there can be such a thing as good Christian fiction, and perhaps even good Christian romance. This wasn't just another book about the hero or heroine loving someone to Christ. This was a honestly written story about a woman who desperately needed the love and redemption of God. It was about what God can do with a changed life. It was a very hopeful book.
I was actually a little surprised to read parts of this book, though. The last entire book I managed to write was a Christian sci-fi romance thing. The main character has this Hosea theme going throughout her struggles and successes. Without ever having read Redeeming Love, it sounds as though I drew inspiration from it. I didn't, but it doesn't matter. I realized through reading Redeeming Love that my story lacks a lot of honesty and needs even more editing than I originally believed.
I guess that's why Francine Rivers is a full-fledged published Christian author, and I'm just a wanna-be. Uh...whatever it is I wanna be...?