Thursday, May 30, 2013

Literary Things: On Faith and Literature

     I've been thinking a lot about author branding lately. Mainly, what kind of author do I want to be? Suspense author? International author? Author of international suspense? And where do my Hallmark drama-esque book ideas like Saving Natalie fit into the mix?

     Then there's the faith element. Do I want to be a Christian author, or an author who is a Christian? In case you've never thought about it, there's a huge difference. If I'm a Christian author, then I'll always have in the back of my mind that sensitive religious readers might be offended if I allude to something brutal, scandalous, or extra-Biblical. Do I really want those restraints? Or do I just want to write books that will probably reflect my faith in some way but aren't bound to preconceived notions about what Christian fiction is or isn't? And have I already worked myself into the Christian fiction box by publishing The Beloved Daughter?

     With these questions in mind, I decided to turn to Reba Ponder Weiss, one of my Twitter writing pals, whose apocalyptic suspense novel Sarah's Confession: This I Know does a great job shattering Christian fiction stereotypes. Enter the giveaway below!

Interview with Reba Ponder Weiss, Author of Sarah's Confession: This I Know

What is your religious background, and how did that influence your novel?
I was raised in an ultra-conservative Southern Christian household.  Biblical principals were a part of my everyday life.  This influence caused me to ask hidden questions within my books.  Why do we believe what we believe?  At what point, if ever, do we question or “go up against” what we believe?
In your opinion, what is the difference between an author who is a Christian and an author of Christian books? 
People always say, “Write about what you know.” I know about Christianity.  It has been a part of my life—my whole my life.  Sometimes I welcomed it.  Sometimes I ran.  I think my personal journey is similar to a lot of people who struggle with Faith and life in this broken world. 

I also become frustrated by people who want “Christian Literature” to fit inside some little, pretty box, with a safe, satin bow.  Christianity and our relationship with Jesus Christ, seldom if ever, fit inside a nice little package.  We struggle, fall, sin, doubt and deceive ourselves.  In other words, my Non-Fiction Christian Life doesn’t follow a formula and therefore my Christianity Fiction Thrillers reflect that messy life.  

Oh, and just a personal note to all my Christian brothers and sisters out there in the book world. The next time you hear yourself saying the words, “She is not a Christian writer,” “That man calls himself a Christian and then he writes about the paranormal,” or “They didn’t have a person falling to their knees and asking Jesus to be their personal Savior.” Please, please, please…do not judge others. There is enough secular stuff out there to go around the world, if a person cares about the Christian market, don’t discourage it. Only God knows a person’s heart and when you presume you can decide if a person is a Christian or not…well, let’s just say…God is God, and you are not Him.

How is your book different than the "typical" Christian novel?
I want my readers to go beyond the comfortable feeling of, “I have everything figured out.” I want them to test what they believe and ask some hard questions. 

We go through life saying things like, “I would NEVER do that,” or “I believe this or that,” but we rarely get an opportunity to test these statements under duress.  We never really know what we would do, until we find ourselves in a situation that separates the men from the boys.  I have one personal experience to share.  When I was a very young girl, one of our neighbors had a husband who beat her daily.  I made the arrogant statement, “I would NEVER live with a man that beat me!”  Guess what?  I lived in an abusive situation for almost 20 years! When people say grandiose things like, “Oh, I would never eat English Peas—I hate them.” Really? If you were without food for three days, and someone gave you English Peas, you would turn up your nose and go hungry? I think not.  Be careful what you say, one day you may be tested.  At the end of my book I want the reader to ask themselves, “What would I have done?”

What kind of audience were you writing for?
My target audience is women over the age of 35 who are tired of reading their grandma’s romance novels.  They are a little cutting edge, want to be challenged and like feeling a little disturbed.  Maybe they loved reading Thrillers or Horror Stories as teenagers and want the same books without all the vulgar language and sexual details. 

Want to brag to us about Sarah's Confession? I know it's won some awards, so give us your best stats!
 My Southern Book Tour 2012 was featured in Elk Valley Times (Fayetteville, TN) and The Cullman Times (Cullman, AL), along with television interviews on Channel Two (Cullman, AL) and The Morning Show WCQT-TV Channel 27 (Cullman, AL). Several websites have featured “This I Know – Sarah’s Confession” on blogs and book reviews.  Recently, it was awarded “Suspense Thriller Author 2012” from Checkeditout.  The Video Book Trailer was awarded “#1 Best Book Video March 2013” by  My social networks have exploded in the last six months with over 10,000 followers on Twitter and over 2500 views of the Video Book Trailer, on YouTube. Not bad for a little country girl from the rural fields of Alabama.


Get In Touch: If you want more information about Reba, see

Get The Book: Reba's novel is available as an ebook or paperback.

Enter The Giveaway: Sign up below to win a free (gently read once by me!) copy of Sarah's Confession. (Shipping to USA only. Sorry!)

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1 comment:

  1. In addition to the contest above. I will give away 5 kindle copies to the first 5 people who leave a comment here on Alana's Page AND/OR share this page. Then visit my website and sign up on the contact page. Please put Alana in the comment field and you win a free copy! Thanks Alana for featuring my book!