A Tame Lion? Why Catholic fiction doesn’t need its own shelf

A Tame Lion? Why Catholic fiction doesn’t need its own shelf

Nov 26, 2021 | Articles, Latest

On a recent weekend, my family and I took a visit to a local bookstore.

Anyone who loves books knows the instant hush and excitement of pushing through those doors,  the scrying of a galaxy of strange and stirring portkeys, a catacomb of creativity.

Fingers reverently brush the expensive pages, pry the spells apart to let coffee’d air rustle the pages, heft the tomes and wonder at the decades of discipline that inked these interiors.

Amid such reveries, I pushed through these literary labyrinths, and found myself before the Christian fiction section.

I was reminded of our CatholicAuthor community.

In an ideal world, do we want to have a batch of shelves set aside for Catholic fiction?

Is that a good idea?

I saw a comment recently from a reviewer of Catholic fiction, assuring visitors that all books are orthodox and comfortable to Catholic readers.

That stuck with me.

Not all Catholic fiction is comfortable. In fact, I agree with Flannery o’Connor that:

“Catholic life as seen by a Catholic doesn’t always make comfortable reading for Catholics…” Flannery O’Connor, ‘Catholic Novelists and Their Readers’

Catholic fiction is not a tame lion.

It’s challenging because it doesn’t think as the world does. Our fiction isn’t neatly separated out with a series of sacramental sigils and colors and lifestyle themes.

That’s a cultural thing, not a Catholic thing. Catholic fiction in eastern India will be very different from northern Russia, or western USA.

All of it is the exploration and expression of ideas through human lives. That’s why anytime you look at something and think ‘yep, that’s Catholic,’ have a second thought.

Is it ‘Catholic’? Or is it your cultural expression of Catholicism?

Our faith is greater than time or place. It is the Kingdom itself, a seed that takes root in fertile ground wherever it is sown.

So I, for one, would not like to have a section dedicated to Catholic fiction.

I would like hordes of Catholic authors writing fantastic, chilling, and thrilling fiction that rubs shoulders in all the other shelves.

Putting a label like ‘Catholic fiction’ on a book does a good thing, and another thing.

The good thing is that people already comfortable with their faith will opt for it because it reinforces a lifestyle. That’s good, and needed. Especially among young ones.

But the sad thing is that it will get pigeonholed. It will be easily dismissed by non-Christian people, the same way most might skip a section devoted to an inter-Himalayan tribe.

But readers who are drawn to the larger genre of fantasy, history, romance, aren’t looking for cultural validation. Not in the same way.

We’re looking for an escape. For immersion. For imagination. To be challenged. To live a different life, and feel a different world. To enter into someone else’s humanity and thrill at their journey.

That is where Catholic-inspired fiction needs to be. That’s where we authors need to goal. To be just as compelling. To be introduced to the themes of our faith through new lenses.

To use our fiction to haunt and fascinate and trouble and tear open and weep and hold out a gentle hand.

In a word, to be more deeply human and true and good and elvish, not less.

Most novels skims the surface of good and evil and the meaning of human living. Truly good ones go deep, get real. And there are many non-Catholic classics and modern contributions that do that.

Catholics don’t see ourselves in competition with creation and creativity, because God is not in competition with his creation.

We can embrace the urge to dramatize the danger and delights of existence, holding true to all the dark gilding and dire graces.

Its not easy. Its utterly thrilling. And our dreams are born from a deeper place. They don’t deserve to be shelved and ignored.

They deserve to be wrestled with, like Jacob and God.

Perhaps, in our own wrestling with our craft and creed, and our readers with our writings, something new can be broken. A new opening in the wineskins for new wine. Maybe God can break in.

We are Catholic authors. Co-creation is our calling.

So write blockbusters and bedside books and brilliant novellas that rivet humans, make friends, and push everyone to begin to see their worlds and lives aslant.

Perhaps a new angle on grit, glut, and grace is the opening Christ can use.

That’s up to Him. Conversion is between God and the individual.

Our job, yours and mine, is to enjoy and endear the journey, the project, the story.

Founder of LegendFiction. Geeks over epics, mystics, science, the angelic, & Netflix. Got an idea for a guest post? Send me a note! | Visit my website

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Join the list for the Weekly Digest of interviews and updates!

You might also like:

LegendHaven Convention 2022

LegendHaven Convention 2022

LegendHaven is the free 2022 online convention to meet up with Catholic and Orthodox fiction authors. Ignite  your excitement to write fantastic fiction!

read more
Katy Campbell | Meet the Mentors | Legendmakers

Katy Campbell | Meet the Mentors | Legendmakers

Katy grew up in a family that was always joking around and laughing. “My grandma taught me that humor is a powerful tool for getting perspective, especially when working through difficulties. I brought this value to my writing and have yet to create a story I don’t consider at least a little bit fun. So far, I’ve published four comedy fantasies and have many more in the works! ”

WEBSITE: www.katysfables.com

Q: Favorite fandom/movie series?

This is the worst question ever because there are so many awesome fandoms to choose from. Since I have to choose, I’ll say Star Trek from the original series through Voyager. (None of these new-fangled Star Treks you kids are watching.) My fairies draw a ton of inspiration from Q, the mischievous all-powerful space alien that appears in Next Generation.

Q: What are you writing these days?

Lots of things! I am doing a sequel to my first novel, Love, Treachery, and Other Terrors. A sequel to Rosaline’s Curse, and a new fun fantasy for middle schoolers about a fifteen-year-old girl’s search for her long-lost parents.

Q: Why is LegendFiction a Good Idea?

Because Orthodox and Catholic writers need a place to tell fun stories that reflect their worldview. I mentioned how much I love Star Trek earlier, but numerous episodes depict religious people as superstitious, science haters that need to be defeated. It’s a pretty standard sci-fi trope.

What’s the solution to this? Help religious writers create awesome sci-fi! Their stories might not be explicitly religious, but they also won’t perpetuate anti-christian stereotypes.

Q: What Services Do You Offer?

I offer story coaching for novels and short stories. As I am reading through your story, I will leave inline comments with my real-time reaction and predictions about where the story is going. This will help you understand if your emotional beats are working.
I try to be as specific as possible with feedback whether it’s constructive or praising. So instead of saying, “I like Chapter 6” I’ll say, “I like how you built tension in Chapter 6 by introducing the mysterious stranger. He was really creepy and the way he kept showing up everywhere the hero went got me really on edge.”

Instead of saying, “This section is boring.” I will say, “Cut this section down because it repeats information you gave us earlier in the story.”

Q: What’s your dream audience?

I like working with people who are open-minded, willing to consider my notes even if they don’t end up using them, and people who are willing to ask clarifying questions about my feedback. I also love working with people who have great senses of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish people knew about editing?

Nobody’s work is perfect. All the great books you’ve read went through numerous rounds of editing. Don’t be embarrassed if I catch a mistake in your manuscript. I’ve probably made the same mistake a hundred times. Editing can hurt, but it’s an important part of making your story awesome!

ABOUT THIS SHOW: Legendmakers
Interviews, convos, and community news about LegendFiction, the creative community for Catholic & Orthodox fiction writers! We talk creed, craft, and co-creation, rooted in grit, grace, gods, and dragons. Let’s inspire your faith and your fiction.

ABOUT LEGENDFICTION
The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox authors. Discover new worlds, support your favorite authors, share your works in progress! Share your stories for free, or join our private community.
https://legendfiction.com
About: https://legendfiction.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendfictions/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendfiction/

FREE COURSE: How to be a Catholic Author
Helping authors write exciting novels, connect faith with fiction, and be a better Catholic! https://legendfiction.com/free-course

read more
Alien worlds, morals, and Markmakers with Mary Woods | LegendFiction

Alien worlds, morals, and Markmakers with Mary Woods | LegendFiction

Mary Jessica Woods was raised and homeschooled in the Chicago suburbs, where she read as many adventure stories as she could get her hands on. At the age of ten, she realized she was doomed to be a writer and has been following the muse ever since. Still seeking adventure, she headed out west to Wyoming Catholic College, where she climbed mountains, rappelled off cliffs, and studied the Great Books.

After graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in the Liberal Arts, she returned to the Midwest to work as an editor. Mary also volunteers as an editorial assistant for the literary magazine Dappled Things, and her nonfiction has appeared in America Magazine, Catholic World Report, and First Things. In her mind, she spends most of her time on distant planets or alien spaceships, but she actually lives in rural Michigan.

WEBSITE: https://maryjessicawoods.com/

GET MARKMAKER:
He swore to paint the truth. Now he is living a lie. For the Noxxiin people, tattoos define identity: they commemorate birth, ancestry, accomplishments—even crimes. As a tattoo artist living on an ancient generation ship, Mariikel Serix has sworn to record the truth. So when he becomes an unwilling accomplice in the banishment of an innocent man, he is horrified that he has broken his oath—and his eyes are opened to the misery of the Underbelly, the realm of the outcasts. https://chrismpress.com/books/markmaker/

ABOUT THIS SHOW: Legendmakers
Interviews, convos, and community news about LegendFiction, the creative community for Catholic & Orthodox fiction writers! We talk creed, craft, and co-creation, rooted in grit, grace, gods, and dragons. Let’s inspire your faith and your fiction.

ABOUT LEGENDFICTION
The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox authors. Discover new worlds, support your favorite authors, share your works in progress! Share your stories for free, or join our private community.
https://legendfiction.com
About: https://legendfiction.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendfictions/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendfiction/

00:00 Why Mary is a Dinotopian Skybax rider
02:35 Mary’s origin story
05:46 Markmaker
11:22 Traditional publishing with Chrism Press
15:13 Faith-inspired fiction
27:00 Mary’s fandoms that influenced Markmaker
33:00 Mary’s writing process & revisions
40:00 How Mary’s growing her brand
44:33 Mary’s 1 minute message to authors

FREE COURSE: How to be a Catholic Author
Helping authors write exciting novels, connect faith with fiction, and be a better Catholic! https://legendfiction.com/free-course

read more
Welcome to LegendFiction (formerly CatholicAuthor!)

Welcome to LegendFiction (formerly CatholicAuthor!)

ABOUT THIS CHANNEL
Interviews, convos, and community news about LegendFiction, the creative community for Catholic & Orthodox fiction writers! We talk creed, craft, and co-creation, rooted in grit, grace, gods, and dragons. Let’s inspire your faith and your fiction.

ABOUT LEGENDFICTION
The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox authors. The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox fiction authors. Discover new worlds, support your favorite authors, share your works in progress! Share your stories for free, or join our private community.
https://legendfiction.com
About: https://legendfiction.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendfictions/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendfiction/

FREE COURSE: How to be a Catholic Author
Helping authors write exciting novels, connect faith with fiction, and be a better Catholic! https://legendfiction.com/free-course

read more

Pin It on Pinterest