BC: So What’s the Deal on Christian Suspense?
I sold my first Christian suspense novel, Eyes of Elisha, to Zondervan in 2000. It was published in the fall of 2001. I had one cabinet-kickin’ time selling the thing. Oh, plenty of publishers wanted it. But they were also scared to death of the book, ’cause it featured this woman having visions. (“Visions, oh my! We don’t do visions!”) Result—slammed doors. Until Zondervan took the plunge and threw their doors wide open. (Don’t you just love mixed metaphors?)
Well, let me tell you. Five years is a loooong time in Christian fiction.
The suspense genre has exploded since then. Visions aside, before around 2000, folks in the industry seemed to be scared of pretty much all suspense. ("How in the world are you supposed to mix the Good News with violence and terror? Agh!") Today not only can you find plenty of Christian suspense novels, you can take your pick from all manner of subgenres. Every month it seems a new Christian suspense author comes along. And some of the very publishers who wouldn’t touch Eyes of Elisha back then are now putting out some serious suspense of their own.
But why do I choose to write suspense in the first place? Why not romance, or historicals, or contemporaries—something a little easier on the nerves? My mother wonders this too. She thinks I'm getting more warped by the minute. From the looks of my stories, she's right. “Seatbelt Suspense” ain’t my brand fer nothin’. But the truth is, we Christian suspense authors have an amazing, fun freedom. We get to tell all manner of spine-tingling stories—and inject the hope of God into them. That's the best of both worlds, if you ask me.
Truth is, we do live in an evil world. But the truth doesn't end there, thanks be to God. The truth ends with the fact that God's power can help us live, even be victorious, amid this evil. Not to say bad things don't happen to good people. They do—in real life, and in Christian suspense. It is to say that followers of Christ have been given the awesome authority to go before His throne and ask for help in times of trouble—even big, bad trouble. Especially big, bad trouble.
Lest you think I sound too much like a preacher, let me set you straight. I'm not one. My #1 job as a Christian novelist is not to preach. It's to write the best rollickin' story I possibly can. I know my comrades in Christian suspense would agree. I want to grab you—from the very first line. I want to take you on a rollercoaster ride, make you need to sleep with a nightlight on. I want to make you forget to b r e a t h e. Yet along the way, you won't be so inundated with evil that you're left feeling hopeless. Quite the opposite. Even amid all the tension, Christian suspense presents hope. Readers can accept the message, or reject it and simply come along for the ride.
Either way, we suspense authors are mighty happy to have y’all along.
Brandilyn Collins, author of Dead of Night