5 Comments

Leaving Your Readers Something to Think About

Guest Blogger: Robin Johns Grant

I am just now publishing my second novel, but of course I’m also a reader. One of my favorite reads is a speculative or supernatural fiction book that’s just the right amount of weird.

In other words, it’s not so out there that I can’t even follow the story, or that it strikes no emotional chord with me. But at the same time, it raises questions, makes me wonder what the heck is going on, makes me think…and yes, leaves me thinking and wondering a little even after the end.

Are you with me on this one—or do you prefer to have everything neatly explained by the end of a story?

Recently, I posted something on my Facebook page about the TV show Lost and was met with an enraged response from someone who still hasn’t gotten over the series ending. To her, it left way too many loose ends and unanswered questions and had simply cheated—throwing in some bizarre storylines that the writers had no idea how to finish.

Photo © Benjamin Earwicker • freeimages.com

Photo © Benjamin Earwicker • freeimages.com

I agree that the Lost writers left some storylines stranded, but I’m still grateful for the years of awe and mystery and deep conversations about the meaning behind every new development. And honestly, I’d rather have a few loose threads than have a story that explains away all the mystery, the wonder.

One of the things I sort of hated as a kid was what I now call the “Scooby Doo effect.” You know, you pick up what appears to be a spooky ghost story and then, of course, the “ghost” was just some greedy developer sneaking in and making scary noises so the family would move out and he could buy their house cheap. I always felt a little let-down after reading those stories.

Sometimes I think novels written for the Christian market are the worst about over-explaining.

In my just-released novel, Jordan’s Shadow, I tried to write one of those creepy “what-the-heck-is-going-on” books that I like to read myself. In it, something extraordinary and pretty unexplainable happens to a mother and her teenage daughter. By the end of the book, I think there’s plenty of information you can gather from the story to figure out what happened, and that there’s a spiritual reason for it.

What there is not is a booming voice from heaven or an angel explaining what happened to everyone. God doesn’t tell everyone WHY this happened. And there are skeptics at the end of the book still arguing that what happened has a natural explanation.

At least one of my Beta readers didn’t like that. She said I should have had an angel right up front in chapter one announcing what was to come…and why.

If I had done that, I would have lost interest in my own book. I want a mystery to solve. And besides, I don’t know about you, but God doesn’t often explain Himself to me. When I ask Him for guidance, He sends it to me, but I usually still have to give it a lot of thought, interpret, analyze…pray. And there are frequently skeptics around to tell me I’m wrong.

Another of my Beta readers was a young woman in her early twenties who, to my knowledge, is not a Christian. She loved Jordan’s Shadow and told me a couple of weeks later she couldn’t get it off her mind and was still thinking about it—in a good way, not in an enraged “I-Hate-Lost” kind of way.

She mentioned some of the issues my story raised and her thoughts about them. Did she reach the exact Christian conclusion I would have liked her to if I had been teaching a class and giving a quiz, instead of writing a fiction novel? No…not yet.

But she’s still thinking. And I like that.

Jordan’s Shadow by Robin Johns GrantJordan'sShadow-Cover-Final

Ginny could swear that her mother is terrified of her. One awful day, Ginny overhears her mother confessing that she truly is terrified because Ginny reminds her of Jordan, a girl who’s been dead many years. In fact, she swears that somehow, Ginny is turning into Jordan.

Ginny undertakes a mind-bending journey of discovery—about faith, eternity, and love beyond the boundaries of space and time. She will put to rest a mystery that has haunted her family for two generations—if she can survive.

Robin croppedRobin Johns Grant published her first novel, Summer’s Winter, in 2014, and her second suspense novel, Jordan’s Shadow, has just been released. Summer’s Winter won a bronze medal in the Romance – Suspense category of the International Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, and Robin was named 2014 Author of the Year by the Georgia Association of College Stores. She works as a college librarian, which keeps her young by allowing her to hang out with students.

Connect with Robin:

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/robinjohnsgrant

Website: http://robinjohnsgrant.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/robinjohnsgrantauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/robinjohnsgrant

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5 comments on “Leaving Your Readers Something to Think About

  1. Kind of like The Turn of the Screw–we’re left debating whether or not the ghosts were real. And staring at your window late at night, waiting for the face to appear. 🙂

  2. I love this kind of work, which is why I like Tosca Lee, and Babylon 5. Some of the most poignant writing concerning religion—from an atheist. Would love to try out some of your work, and the Speculative Fiction site.

  3. Leaving Your Readers Something to Think About is really something interesting. It makes everyone interested of what it is all about.

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