Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Absent Willow Review, and my tangential ramblings

It's your last chance to read the current stories in The Absent Willow Review (an online magazine of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror) before they're moved to the archives. The next issue is published on August 16th, when my story "Willing Blood" will appear!

I've found that this zine publishes some stories with a spiritual edge. Last month "In The Valley of Dry Bones" grabbed my attention. This month, it was "Between the Toes."

This has made me think about the strict labelling of Christian and secular work. I've found that a lot of secular writing, even books and stories by horror writers, have underlying and brilliantly woven Christian messages. But Christian writing has these set parameters, requiring messages to be obvious. Despite the claims of Christian publishers that they do not want "preachy" writing, I've found that much Christian writing lacks subtlety. Big time.

One of the things that got me writing in the first place was my fascination with the skill with which J.K. Rowling imbued Christian symbolism into the Harry Potter books. Not once was there a direct reference. Working her beliefs into the structure of the story impressed me more than any writing that spells out its message in bright, bold letters. I love to solve puzzles, and I revelled in the uncovering of Rowling's symbolism. I also love explaining it to people--so many feel her books are anti-Christian because of the magic.

Those same people are probably going to think me blasphemous for my story that is forthcoming in The Absent Willow Review . But "Willing Blood" is allegorical. It's dark (my best friend called it "disturbing, but in a good way"), probably borderline horror, but I know I wrote this story with my heart in the right place.

I can't write sunshine-and-daisies Christian fiction because I'm not a sunshine-and-daisies Christian. I'm a caught-in-the-battle Christian. I came from a Christian home, but strayed away during my teen years. I've seen the dark side. It's a very real place. And I feel closest to God when I think about those times. It was He who pulled me out, and it wasn't an easy process. But He fought for me. Died for me. A bloody, painful, and gruesome death. It's not all rainbows and pretty gold crosses on sparkly necklaces.

There is a place for that kind of writing. So please don't run off and think I'm bashing Christian books for having positive and uplifting messages! I just don't want to be made to feel ashamed for writing outside of that label.

Anyway, three more days until "Willing Blood" comes out in The Absent Willow Review. And I'm so proud to have been accepted by them!


Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Why are you bashing Christian books for having positive and uplifting messages!

Just kidding!!!

My little short story in W.D. was pretty dark and not Christian at all and nobody showed up at my door with pitchforks. So you'll probably be safe.

I like positive and uplifting stories set against a dark backdrop. Light always seems brightest when it's piercing the dark.

Kat Heckenbach said... dare you!

Just kidding :).

Your "little short story" was great!!! I liked the sinister edge to it a lot.

Love that last comment, too. I try to think of it in terms of physics--you can open a door and let light out, but you can't let dark in. So, infusing Christianity into a dark, secular story is possible, but it's not possible to make a Christian story evil. You can put all the dark elements in that you want, but the light of God is going to shine through.

Boy, I hope the light shines through in my story, or there will be people at my door with pitchforks :).

KM Wilsher said...

We got your back, Kat. No pitch forks will touch you! LOL

I'm a caught-in-the-battle Christian. Loved this line ;)

I too am a caught-in-the-battle Christian too. I've seen evil and real darkness and I hope that my stories will show those in the real darkness
the way to the narrow and light path.

The Absent Willow Review - I can't wait. I can't sit still! :)

Thanks for sharing this! I could talk for days about this! :)