INTRODUCTION BY DIANE GRAHAM
Every now and again, we come across a really cool-cat, word-slinging, thesaurus-toting, up and coming novelist. When we do we try to bring them into the Collective. Resistance is futile. This week, I’d like to introduce all of you to my friend, Tim Ward. I have a feeling you’re going to see that mug hanging around these parts more often.
Be gentle though, he was very nervous about meeting all of you. I told him we wouldn’t bite. Although, I couldn’t guarantee an anvil or two wouldn’t knock him in the noggin. He looks like he has a thick enough cranium, doesn’t he?
Please, give the man some NAF love. Are you ready to meet Tim? Here we go…
BLOG POST BY TIMOTHY C. WARD
Dear New Authors Fellowship and all your beloved followers,
I don’t deserve this audience, but I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m an unpublished writer who podcasts his thoughts and the sometimes stumbling attempts to ask smarter writers about theirs. I’m a Christian who isn’t sure if I should tell my audience that I’m Christian, but I’m also afraid to tell some of my Christian friends about some of the stuff I write (including my lovely wife). I’m trying to write the book I want to read, while figuring out my audience and without limiting my creative fire. I want to write the next Dune series incorporating the struggles of Christians instead of Muslim Buddhists, but I don’t want it just to be read by Christians. I want to show people the power of life and death as I see it without banging them over the head with my beliefs. Instead, I want to pull their heart out, stuff it with my experience, and watch them snap back where they can decide what happens next.
Can I do this without preaching? That is my life’s goal. I love that you will join me in this pursuit.
In the first draft of my second book, The General’s Shadow, the answer to the title question was yes. In the second, I’m trying to make it “no”. The challenge that I’m facing, is feeling the need to erase and alter every scene and aspect of world building that alludes to Christian-type faith. In the end, I’m wondering if his faith is going to be there at all.
Ideally, I’d like my protagonist to have already been converted, and trying to reach out to a remnant of his people who are walking away from the faith of their fathers. I’m afraid this motivation determines the market as Christian.
I want a book I would like because of my faith, but also one I can give to someone no matter what their faith is. Is this possible? It will require great writing and a delicate touch for the happy middle. It’s kind of like playing Operation. Hit the side, buzzer goes off, and you lose. So how do I determine my boundaries?
My first boundary is describing my character’s faith. Isn’t it funny, someone can write a story about Islamic Buddhists in the future, (Dune), and have all the religious intrigues of a preordained Messiah, but that isn’t considered preachy. The reason, I think, is because this messiah, Paul, was a man. These people did not believe in the Christian faith or that Messiah, and so it’s okay.
You can stop reading and answer my questions here: Do you think my main character can believe in a Christian type Messiah, or even an absolute truth in Monotheism, without it turning my book into Christian Science Fiction. Is making this truth a driving force what buzzes on the boundary between Christian and Mainstream?
Do you think the following three foundations for this series can be included without forcing this book into a Christian SF market?
1) Background: My main character is a Rucien, a people group who have been separated for thousands of years from a sect of humanity that became obsessed with human-machine interfacing. These people, the Osuna, reshaped the original human homeworld into a virtual reality society that rejected religion and replaced it with sensual fulfillment. They enslaved the poor so the rich and powerful could live for hundreds of years in stasis chambers while their minds roamed the “neuronet”. That in and of itself does not preclude preaching, but what if the Rucien are followers of Ruc, this creation’s Messiah, who was killed for speaking out against the sins of this world. They believe he rose again, etc.
2) Current: The hero is stranded on a planet where 45,000 of his people were “rescued” by an Esune (branch of Osuna). In the first draft, his speaking out against their following Esune gods and practices was a key point in taking a stand against the bad guy. In this second draft, I’ve cut the scene, but I wonder if he being outspoken against the abandonment of their forefather’s faith makes this a Christian SF.
3) Future Books: I see a climax to the series where the Osuna try to enslave the Rucien to use their bodies and DNA for their technology and attempt to become immortal. The Rucien want to be free of this oppression, and believe that God offers them immortality by turning from evil. With this theme in mind, my hero will be faced with his own people being lured away by the temptation of an easy life outside of their faith.
This is my struggle producing a General Market Science Fiction novel: I want to reach the lost, but I don’t want to ignore the true source of power or the reality of spiritual battles so prevalent in my perspective on life.
What about your books? Does your hero’s faith determine your story’s market?