Christian author or author of Christian fiction?

“Do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction, and what do you think the difference is?” is the first question I ask of any author I interview. I set out today to write a completely different blog post, but in thinking about what makes Christian fiction Christian, I tallied the responses. Perhaps you’d be interested in reading how others have answered this question.

There’s a lot here, so as you’re reading, think about how you would answer the question, then TELL US in the comments.

Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes

I consider myself a Christian author. One reason being that my entire passion and pursuit of writing has been at God’s urging.  Looking back through my life, I can clearly see His hand in shaping me as a storyteller. I could never do it without Him, nor would I want to. I like watching Him hone the story into the message He knows it needs to send. ~Nadine Brandes, author of A Time to Die

Angie Brashear - Headshot (2)I consider myself a Christian author, because above all things, I am a Christian. As to the difference, I believe anyone can write Christian fiction for various purposes, such as targeting a certain audience for sales or even to present Christianity as a fantasy. ~Angie Brashear, author of Of the Persecuted

laura cary 2I’m an author who happens to be a Christian. I’ve been a bit outspoken lately about this topic. I worry that the category of “Christian fiction” has actually contributed to the demise of literature of belief in mainstream fiction. I think that when Christian publishing separated out of mainstream and called this thing “ours” that we ceded ground and are now finding it difficult to regain territory. I believe my place is in representing belief in my fiction without alienating mainstream readers. I could argue that the theme of both of my books is something like “find one lost sheep and the angels rejoice,” but that theme is woven through pretty quietly. ~Laura Anderson Kurk, author of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass

I’m a Christian who happens to like to write…Although I might classify some of my fiction as “Christian” (often redemptive in nature, and touching on things of eternity) I presume most would consider it spiritually thematic, a looser term granted. It’s not that I dislike the phrase Christian fiction, but how that term is used in Christian publishing circles probably doesn’t describe what I currently write…The difference, in my mind, is that ‘Christians who write’ is the bigger category. One genre in which Christians who write might find themselves is Christian fiction (where Christ is central to the lives of the main characters and the Gospel message is fairly evident). I’ve not yet published a story with this particular emphasis, but I’m open to it. ~Lyn Perry, author of Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut

cynthia-toneyI’m an author who is Christian. I think when non-Christians hear “Christian author,” it may mean the same to them as “author of Christian fiction.” My writing reflects the fact that I believe anyone can become a better person, and I personally feel that way because of Jesus, but I try to be subtle about it. ~Cynthia T. Toney, author of Bird Face

Since my stories always have a twist of fantasy, and I write them as they come to me, I don’t think they fit into the Christian Fiction category well, meaning a book that has a spiritual payload or is biblical. The series has a spiritual theme, and I am a Christian, but I write for a mainstream audience too. ~SR Karfelt, author of Warrior of the Ages and Blank:A Shieldmaiden’s Voice

Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson

I am a Christian author. Most of my books have been published in the Christian market, also known as the Christian Bookseller’s Association. But I’ve written some books that don’t fit in the Christian market. So I’m going to try and sell those to the general market. All that means is that there is no overt Christian theme in them. I write the stories that God puts on my heart. But not every story can be the same allegory. I like to explore different themes. But no matter what I write, I strive to honor God with it. So I guess I don’t really think that there is such a thing as “Christian fiction.” There are Christian themes. And sometimes they are stronger than other times. ~Jill Williamson, author of the Project Gemini series, The Safe Lands trilogy, the By Darkness trilogy, Replication: The Jason Experiment, Go Teen Writers, and Storyworld First

Definitely a Christian author. I’ve spent many years trying to fit into the Christian fiction author “mold,” as it were, but I’ve always thought my books are just stories written from a Christian point of view. Yes, there are spiritual themes and overtones, but I think you can find that in all great books. But I do categorize my novel as “Christian Fiction” AND “Historical Fiction” on Amazon. That way ABA readers won’t be surprised at the mention of God and the thoughts of my main character (a Christian Viking)…I think when you smack on the “Christian fiction” title, you have to be careful not to be preachy or insert themes that aren’t organic to the characters’ stories. The stories that speak the loudest to me (usually classics!) are the ones that open our eyes to things naturally, through the characters’ choices and thoughts. ~Heather Day Gilbert, author of God’s Daughter and Miranda Warning

I’m a Christian author, for sure. I hope that whatever I set my mind and heart to is for the glory of God. I believe I was called by God to write, and destined to become an author, to write for His honor and glory and to inspire and lead others to Him. ~Linda Kozar, author of the Until the Fat Ladies Sing cozy mystery series

Kerry Nietz

Kerry Nietz

Hmm…probably the former. I see the difference as being one of intent. I take “Christian author” to mean a storyteller that happens to be a Christian, while “author of Christian fiction” seems more like someone who intends to write a story that will earn the label “Christian.” But that one is difficult to define too, because something that is “Christian” to one person may not necessarily be “Christian” to another…As an author I don’t necessarily set out to write a Christian book. My intent is to tell a story, and to address a particular theme. Now usually that theme flows from my worldview, and I absolutely want to glorify the Lord and his purposes in what I do. But mostly, I like to tell stories. Ask anyone who knows me. That’s how I communicate: “Let me tell you what happened today…” Kerry Nietz, author of The Darktrench Saga, Mask, and Amish Vampires in Space

I am a Christian who writes fiction. To me, the term “Christian Fiction” is a marketing term to designate fiction that adheres to the standards of the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and that will sell in Christian bookstores. And though I currently write fiction that adheres to those standards, and don’t have a problem with them, my purpose is deeper than that. My goal is not to write “Christian Fiction”, but rather “Christ glorifying fiction”.  By this I am broadening the umbrella. Excellently written fiction may glorify Christ even if it falls outside the narrow scope of what sells in a Christian gift shop / bookstore. ~Robert Treskillard, author of the Merlin Spiral trilogy

I consider myself a Christian author. I am a Christian writing real, gritty characters who find themselves in circumstances beyond their control; circumstances which test their faith. I write from a Christian worldview, but I also don’t shy away from issues many in the CBA consider taboo. In that way, I don’t write typical Christian fiction. ~Bethany Macmanus, author of Six Solitude Road and Beyond the Stalagtites

I consider myself an author who is a Christian. The difference is that there are some authors who write for a Christian audience and some who write for a general audience. I don’t set out to write books that are for Christians only. Some of my books appeal to Christians more than others. And, as with any author, my worldview comes out in what I write. But I always strive to write entertaining stories that are real that teen readers will enjoy. ~Jill Williamson, on a different day 😉

Back when I first started writing professionally, I was big on making the distinction, but now I’m just simply a writer. I’m a Christian, first and foremost. And I’m acutely aware that, as I deal with people in the writing/movie business or with readers, I’m representing Christ. That has prompted me to be friendlier, more professional, and to work my hardest to turn in work ahead of schedule, polished, and as good as I can make it…Having said that, some of my work is specifically for the Christian market—some of it is for the general market. Some of it talks specifically about Christians and the unique struggles they go through and how the Bible speaks to that—some of my stories are just about monsters and explosions and fast cars. In everything I write, be it secular or “Christian”, I try to put something meaningful in there, some sort of “theme” or a tiny light that speaks to redemption or hope or forgiveness—all things that I believe find their full fruition in Christ. That just comes out naturally in me and from my view of the world…So, am I a Christian author, or an author of Christian Fiction? Yes. Yes, I am. 🙂 ~Greg Mitchell, author of Caffeine

I am a Christian. And I am a writer who allows her faith and beliefs to influence her writing, but my book is not Christian fiction…The difference is simple in my mind: audience. An author of Christian fiction is mostly reaching other Christians. I desire to reach a much broader audience. ~Heather Sunseri, author of the Mindspeak series

Melanie-4 (5)Both. I write Christian fiction, and I am a Christian author. Not all Christian authors write Christian fiction, but I think they can still influence people and provide positive, uplifting entertainment. But I’m not sure I can write anything that doesn’t include God and his amazing truth. His love and the way he convicts and changes people is such a part of my thinking. ~Melanie Dickerson, author of The Healer’s Apprentice, The Captive Maiden, The Fairest Beauty, and The Merchant’s Daughter

I am a Christian first, then an author. I’m leaving it in His hands what He does with both types of stories. ~RL Copple, author of the Reality Chronicles and the Virtual Chronicles

Some people define Christian fiction by what is omitted: sex, profanity, and graphic violence. Others say it includes a Christian worldview. My book meets all those criteria, and people who have read it consider it Christian fiction. But for me, that was a by-product, not the ultimate goal. I want to tell great stories that change lives for the better. I prefer to think of this book as a family-friendly wild ride with a message of hope and a challenge to anyone’s faith. ~Alan Schleimer, author of The Q Manifesto

I would consider myself a “Christian author.” I am a Christian, and I’m an author, and much of my faith does come through in my writing. But very little of my writing is overtly Christian. ~Kat Hackenbach, author of Finding Angel and Seeking Unseen

HannahCobb_5BWI am a Christian author because I am a Christian and I am an author. I don’t write Christian fiction—there’s really nothing definitively religious about any of the stories I write (at least so far). All authors pull from their life experience and personal beliefs, though, so my personal worldview is evident in my writing. Overarching themes of good defeating evil, redemption, and faith are there in the text, but they aren’t really why I write. I write to tell a good story, one I hope readers of any faith can enjoy. ~Hannah Cobb, author of Mortis

Laura Jackson

Laura Jackson

I think I’m a Christian author of Christian fiction. The first (Christian author) is a Christian who’s writing for a mainstream audience and doesn’t write spiritual elements in the book, which is cool. An author of Christian fiction is writing books with Christians in mind and usually includes spiritual truths in the book. That’s the difference to me, but since I’m a Christian who writes with Christian teens (particularly girls) in mind, I’m mixing the two…I think both are needed. ~Laura Jackson, author of Worth the Wait

Mary Hamilton

Mary Hamilton

I’m both, because I am a believer who writes, and I’m an author who writes Christ-honoring fiction. ~Mary L. Hamilton, author of Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil

Rajdeep Paulus

Rajdeep Paulus

Neither, really. I’m an author. My faith is very personal, but I think, inevitably, a writer’s worldview will sprinkle onto the pages of her stories here and there. My dream is to write great stories that will move people’s hearts to care about the hurting world around them and ponder the deeper questions of life. Because life is short. It’s important to take time to love others and ask yourself the hard questions, not settling for someone else’s answer. ~Rajdeep Paulus, author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones

Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall

I think my answer is that I’m a Christian author. I knew when I first started thinking about plotting “the book” I’d always wanted to write that it would definitely have a Christian theme and would very much involve the spiritual journey of the heroine. ~Dawn Crandall, author of The Hesitant Heiress

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7 thoughts on “Christian author or author of Christian fiction?

  1. Lots of great perspectives here!

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  2. Loved this article. I liked the different perspectives.

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  3. Most importantly? Show Christ’s love, mercy and grace in all things. Label it Christian or not, but get it on the shelves!! Sometimes being a Christian is showing and sometimes it’s telling. Let God specifically direct you and show you in each story how to show His glory in the brightest way (:

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  4. Lydia and Tim – Me too. 🙂

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  5. I find it interesting how many of the answers are the same at the core. 🙂

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  6. What Transparent Mom said! And Lisa agreed with! Get the stories on the shelves, if possible, without trying to fit the stories into a mold created by who knows who. Very tough to do these days, unfortunately. Here’s my thoughts on the series I’ve been working on for forever now — It’s GOD’s story. HE simply asked me to write it down.

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