Wednesday, April 4, 2012

No Respect?

Can I share a little secret? I get really tired of the “Christian Fiction” label sometimes.

Let me be clear: I don’t get tired of writing what people label as “Christian Fiction”. I even understand the need for the label as there are those in the Christian reading audience that want to know that they’re purchasing something that at least mostly adheres to their Biblical worldview without the excessive swearing and graphic sex, stringy intestines, etc. I get it. That doesn’t bother me at all.

What I don’t get is the knee jerk reaction that I face when it “comes out” that I write Christian Fiction. Without people having even read my books, I’m automatically deemed inferior to “real” fiction. I’m automatically judged as being preachy, cliche, unrealistic. In a word: Lame.

And that’s the attitude coming from Christians.

Certainly not all of them, but there is a very vocal portion of the Christian readership that turn their noses up at labeled “Christian Fiction”--even more specifically fiction written under the Christian Booksellers Association banner (under which I happen to fall, as well). I see countless comments about how “those CBA books” are out of touch with reality, watered-down, cheesy, whatever. And, no matter how much I might try to convince someone that my books are, actually, pretty dark--they only seem to see it as a five year old jumping up and down shouting, “I’m a killer shark!” It’s cute. It’s adorable.

But they certainly don’t respect me.

I haven’t even begun to touch on the reactions I get when I enter the horror world--the actual genre my books belong in--to try and convince them that I don’t just exist to preach at them or “trick” them into coming to Christ. That my books are horror, through and through, that are based on a Biblical basis. Wasn’t The Exorcist built on a Biblical foundation? Wasn’t The Omen preachy? That’s my argument, but I’m that five year old trying to convince others I’m a vicious predator again.

Me and Rodney Dangerfield. No respect, I tell ya.

It gets pretty frustrating and the fight to stay positive in it all is an uphill battle some days. But then I shut out all the noise and opinions and just write. I fall back into my fictional world with monsters and heroes and it doesn’t matter anymore what people think. All I can do is write books from my heart, expressing the things I want to say. Man, I’m having fun over here, writing about slimy creatures and car chases and shoot-outs. These are the stories I want to tell--that I've always wanted to tell. There will always be those who criticize, who feel that I’ve missed the mark. There will always be those who think that my books are cheesy, corny, preachy--even lame.

But if I’m called those things, I’d like to earn them honestly by people reading the book and forming their own opinion--not by people automatically discounting me because of a label :p

How about you? Have you ever felt you've had to prove yourself to your peers? Or are you just way cooler than me and shrug it off? :p


Kristine McGuire said...

Okay, I confess to having ignored Christian fiction to an extent and for the very reasons you cite. I'm duly chastised. I will be going to the bookstore and looking for your books because they sound intriguing. Thanks for your honesty. :)

Greg Mitchell said...

Ha, well thanks, Kristine. We're up to two books in The Coming Evil series, with one more to go. Book Two: "Enemies of the Cross" was just released a couple months ago, and is the darker, more mature big brother of the first book, "The Strange Man". If you DO manage to give them a try, I hope they do not disappoint :) But! If they do, I'll have, at least, earned the critique honestly :p Thanks for being willing to give it a try, nonetheless.

Ruth Douthitt said...

I will probably feel your pain soon as I am delving into YA Christian Fiction. I am writing about demon fighting teens and am tempted to include more violence (like Hunger Games)without preachiness...but I don't want to compromise.

It is hard to write up to that "line" without crossing it.