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!