There’s a thing going round among writer friends – a mini-blog-tour. Claire Dunn has invited me to participate (see her blog, here).
That’s C.F.Dunn, author of an unfolding series of novels, Mortal Fire, Death Be Not Proud and, most recently, Rope of Sand.
This mini-blog tour involves answering four questions –
- What am I working on?
- How does my work differ from others in its genre?
- Why do I write what I do?
- How does my writing process work?
– then nominating two other writers to address the same questions. I’ve nominated Rachel Phifer, author of the novel The Language of Sparrows, and Donna Fletcher Crow, a prolific and successful author of Christian historical novels. Donna will be picking this up on her blog, I know; but I haven’t yet heard back from Rachel.
So, then, to the questions.
What am I working on?
My current work-in-progress was intended as a preachers’ resource, but my publisher feels it will do better as a gift book / bedside book. It’s a fusion of reflection and fiction, in the same way as was my Lent book published this year, The Wilderness Within You.
This new book is to be called The Wren On The Fence, and will be a collection of 52 short fictional pieces, following the liturgical year. Each piece will explore the theme set for the Sunday of that week in the ecclesiastical year, and take into account also the quarter-day and cross-quarter-day themes of the ancient Celtic Year – pre-dating the Council of Whitby. Each piece will be to a word-length allowing it to take about ten minutes to read, so it will be handy for those looking for material for women’s meetings, homegroup meetings, personal quiet times or for the ministry of the word in an evening service or ‘second’ service (eg an 8.00am communion service).
I’ve just begun this, and its completion deadline is the end of November.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I write both fiction and non-fiction, Christian spirituality. My publishers (both UK and US) produce books primarily (broadly) for the evangelical end of the Christian marketplace. In Christian fiction there’s a strong movement away from ‘confessional’ fiction, in which the Christian message is explicit and declared, to a more implicit exploration of Gospel themes – less upfront about Jesus, more imbued, shot-through, with the values that characterize (or at least inspire) the Christian faith community.
My work differs from all this in two ways. Firstly, in my novels, I am not following the trend of being less up-front about Jesus. Because I believe that the irreducible minimum content – the essence, the nub – of the Christian faith is a direct personal encounter and relationship with the living Lord Jesus, that’s what I write about. It’s possible to be nuanced in expressing this in fiction, but I don’t try to tone it down or cover it up in any way.
Secondly, my thinking – and therefore my work – draws on and is informed by other thoughtforms and world religions; Hinduism, Sufism, Taoism, Buddhism and a whole variety of other thinkers – secular, scientific, New Age, Theosophist, Anthroposophist – I don’t mind what they are, I’m interested in what they have to say, exploring it, considering it, turning it over and over in the light of truth as I understand it. Listening always for the ring of authenticity.
In both these respects my focus and intent, or at least my method, differs somewhat from the general current trend in Christian fiction and devotional material.
Why do I write what I do?
In 2007 I made a resolve that henceforth I would do – only do – what I came here (to Earth) to do. Being an awkward and somewhat dysfunctional person, my contribution to human society is not considerable; but I have gained some insights, and I think I can articulate them in such a way that they become helpful to others and hopefully nourishing to the soul. So my writing is my offering to God and to other people.
I write fiction with the aim of making goodness attractive. I’ve noticed many books rely heavily on what is cruel, unkind, frightening or horrific for their power – the villains and their activities give their work its splendor. I strongly believe it is possible to fill life with goodness without being either boring or bored; and my novels set out to demonstrate this.
How does my writing process work?
I live a secluded, isolated, retired life, devoted – avidly – to thinking, wondering, watching, listening, finding out and reflecting.
I make notes of my conclusions.
The process is primarily an exercise in ferocious concentration. It makes me hard to live with.