Monday, January 15, 2007

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


At 9:22 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

And we suspense readers are mighty happy to have you suspense writers. Keep writing for Him, Brandilyn.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for paving the way. I'm glad I started writing supernatural thrillers when I did and not five years ago. My favorite fiction are the stories that deal with the tough issues real Christians face. Its in the dark that Christ's light shines the brightest. Great post and blog site.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Tracy Ruckman said...

BC says: "I want to grab you—from the very first line. I want to take you on a rollercoaster ride..."

And boy, howdy, does she ever succeed! Every single book!

At 1:38 AM, Blogger David Meigs said...

I've been worrying that my novel might be too much for the CBA. I know the Lord led me though. After reading your experience, I have renewed hope. Thanks for sharing it.


At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't yet read EYES OF ELISHA, but I have read all of the Hidden Faces Series. Brandilyn did a superb job portraying the spiritual growth of Annie Kingston from a non-believer to a woman of faith. Annie's prayers prove that Brandilyn is a woman of faith and prayer; only a true prayer warrior could write such beautiful, power-filled prayers. Evil is all around us, bad things happen to good people, yet through it all, our God is sufficient, all-loving, all-powerful, and all-merciful. Thank you, Brnadilyn.
Connie Leonard

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

I like your new picture and your old picture, B. Both beautiful. Great post.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Susan Meissner said...

Brandilyn wrote: ("How in the world are you supposed to mix the Good News with violence and terror? Agh!")

I've just begun writing books with dead bodies inside them, but even before then I knew that it's precisely because we live in a world "with violence and terror" that we need the Good News. What's not to like about stories that show us the battle between good and evil, where good wins out? That's what gives us hope. And an entertaining read.

Preach it, sister. . .

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Malissa said...

:) I have never in my life enjoyed a suspense novel UNTIL I read Brandilyn's!

Seriously I am reading all of them.

At 10:58 PM, Blogger Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Jim Bell once told me, "If things get dull, introduce a man with a gun." If it had been you speaking, I suspect you'd have said, "If things get dull, introduce a corpse."
Keep on giving us cold chills. Night lights don't use much electricity.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger ~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Nope, Katy, no nightlight.

Thanks, y'all for your kind words. I'd have answered earlier today, but I was busy killing off a few folk...

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm mighty happy to learn from you, Brandilyn. Enjoyed the post!



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