Why “Christian” Suspense?

Fantasy and Science Fiction

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Why “Christian” Suspense ?

Good question.

When I was a kid, I started reading a mix of science fiction and suspense novels. Mostly sci-fi back then. I’m talking fourth, fifth grade. Just look at this cover. . . they did such beautiful art work then.

My favorite book from that part of my life was one by Frank M. Robinson, titled The Power. I’ve got a copy two feet from my elbow as I write this. What can you say about a book good enough to stick with you for more than fifty years?

The important thing that was missing in my reading was a knowledge of God. I didn’t get that till I was twenty years old, and it didn’t come from a magazine. It came from solid Bible preaching, in the first believing church I’d ever attended.

After that I went through a period of time where I didn’t read any of the old literature. No apologies offered for that. . . old things passed away, and all things became new. After a while the pendulum began to swing back some. Now I had a Christian World View. I could read the world’s stuff with a discerning eye.

I discovered that I could still read and enjoy most of it, but now it had no authority. I knew the Truth. It was easy to laugh at all the evolutionary fables, the pseudo-science. My wife and I started reading together. We read a bunch of the books written by Bodie and Brock Thoene. They were real pioneers of what many call the modern era of Christian fiction. Then the Amish Invasion hit. You could hardly find a book about anyone who wore shoes. Yes, I know that’s not exactly true, but I thought it sounded funny. Patience, Grasshopper.

I missed some of the good writing by men like James Patterson and Lee Child. Their stuff is way too graphic for Christian tastes. And don’t even talk to me about Stephen King. What these men do know, is they know how to write good suspense literature! I thought to myself, I wonder if I could ever do anything like that? I guess we could fast-forward to “I sure am trying,” but there’s more to it.

We all like to be entertained. I love being held on the edge of my seat by a story. Lee Child recently wrote an article where he said the main secret was to make the reader WAIT. That’s a pretty simple concept. Seems like I ought to be able to  get a hold of that one. Another thing he does is present his “bad guys” as really bad. The good guys may not be perfect, maybe pretty flawed. But those bad guys are really, really evil.

I like to call that High Contrast Suspense. That’s a Biblical view, I believe.

2 Corinthians 6:14a-15 “. . .for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

God’s Word is written in High Contrast too. There’s no gray area between light and darkness, good and evil. So as I’m developing my writing skills, such as they are, I’m trying to present good and evil in the same way.

I have no patience with, and no inclination to emulate, writing graphic violence or sex. Even Alfred Hitchcock managed to avoid that, and he was never accused of being a saint. Let’s have some antagonists who are really, really bad. Evil guys. And let’s have some weak/flawed/doing-the-best-they-can good guys — protagonists —  getting a hold of the Throne of Grace and winning a few battles. To me, that makes good fiction.

My first book is just now going into the publishing cycle. I don’t know what the final title will be, but I’ve always called it Friend Me. The antagonist in that book should arouse some sympathy, but you’re really going to want her to be dead, just as soon as possible. She deserves it.

The current work-in-progress is named Bundle. It’s about a family of generational serial killers. They’ve all been bad, back to 1816. More later on that. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to write these stories. Well, not always fun. It’s mostly a lot of hard work! But that’s the thing.

There is a place for CHRISTIAN Suspense literature. Good suspense stories, written with a genuine Christian World View. May God help me to be faithful to him as I try and write some of it.

 

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