December 20, 2007

Survey Comments: Part V

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your comments have been great. I really appreciate your points of view. Here are a few more.

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topanga says:
I learn about most new Christian Fiction on blogs or through book sellers (amazon.com, black expressions, etc).

Although I support African American Christian fiction because I can relate to the stories and because of the redeeming Gospel message in the novels, most of them are not well-written or well-edited. Let me stress that I do read these novels and admire the dedication of the authors. Within the writing itself, however, I find many plot holes, examples of stiff dialog, and instances of telling not showing --things that are a big no-no in fiction writing.*


Patricia Woodside says:
The blogosphere is my primary source for finding out about new AA Christian fiction and fiction titles in general.

I find that CBA stores do not favor the AA reader or author. Occasionally a particular book will get attention but AA Christian fiction as a whole does not from these outlets.

To be fair, I think a lot of Christian fiction written by majority (White) authors is snubbed in mainstream retail outlets, like Borders or B&N, beyond the biggest selling or most well-known names like Karen Kingsbury or Janette Oke, despite the continued growth of the genre. It's as if there is still a "wait and see" attitude about Christian fiction.

The vast majority of Christian fiction that I've purchased as been through an online retailer, which again rarely carries AA Christian fiction.

I use my library frequently but I find that Christian fiction as a whole is not widely carried by my library system. It's the same "wait and see" phenomenon as with the retailers. It's frustrating when they have only one or two books in a longer series. However, the library does tend to be responsive when books are requested, maybe moreso than a retailer who will place a special order but will not necessarily changing the store's buying habits.


Nicole Petrino-Salter says:
First of all, the story is what matters. If the topic interests me, I really don't care who wrote it or what ethnicity the characters are. I don't read historicals, lits, sci-fi, or fantasy. And I don't read all kinds of romance.

Although I buy a lot of books, I spread the purchases of them out over online, WalMart, and Christian bookstores.

I want a contemporary story, and I don't want to struggle through cultural issues, meaning that I don't want to feel ignorant or excluded by the characters or story lines.

I am an author of seven contemporary Christian novels, and my second book will be available with online distributors but not in bookstores. My first novel is only available from me. Both novels are self-published.

Visit Nicole at www.hopeofglory.typepad.com/into_the_fire.**


* edited for clarity
** edited for length

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Thanks, everyone for weighing in today. Tomorrow, I'll have comments from Marilynn Griffith, author of the Shades of Style series.

4 comments:

rjcovjr said...

Nicole,

I agree with most of your post. However, I would like to point out that, as an African-American woman, I've had to learn about cultures other than my own since the day I learned to read. By choice and by requirements of the educational system, I've learned to decipher inside jokes and cultural norms of Jewish people, European culture, Asian societies, African societies, Caribbean people, Appalachian culture, Mormon society, Muslim society, etc.

I don't think literature should be exclusive, but I also think we as readers should challenge ourselves to learn about cultures other than our own.

ragamuffin diva said...

Um... I've read scores of Christian novels by White authors that are not well written.

I'm just sayin'.

ragamuffin diva said...

And one more thing...

I dunno. When I read Siri Mitchell's French novels I may be a little culturally ignorant, meaning I'm not White, rich, well-traveled, and don't speak French, but the stories were so good, I worked on it. They stretched me. I didn't have to be any of those things to enjoy a story well told.

But that's just me.

Honest to God, y'all have worn me out. I need a prayer meeting.

sally apokedak said...

Now see? I only got through half of one of Siri Mitchell's novel. I had to put it down. It felt like it was pushing French culture and shouting that the French were much more cool than the Americans who all had their panties in a bunch.

So I quit reading. Even though many French people are white, Ragamuffin. =0)

It's not about the color of person's skin. It's about culture. (Besides I just don't like chick-lit/romance much.)

And I agree that there are many, many poorly written novels by white authors.

Rjcovjr, I agree we should learn about other cultures--I wonder why I find black US culture such a turn off. I don't like Greek-American stories, or Italian-American stories, either. And those are both white races. So I'm sure it's not a skin color problem.

Maybe it's because I've always just been American. I'm not German-American even though my grandparents came over from Germany. I've always just been American. So I find African cultures interesting and Australian and South American and Chinese. But Chinese Americans? I don't much care about their culture.

I think it's because I feel excluded.

If you write a book for me, you can write about any culture. Remember that I'm your audience and you have to explain the culture to me in a way I can understand. If you are writing a book for other African-American women you aren't going to be writing in a way I can understand. African-American women have a common heritage that I don't share. They feel things I don't feel. They will read things differently than I will read them. That's not a sin problem--it's just a fact that we all filter what we read through our own life experiences. I don't have life experience that makes me understand black culture the way a black audience will understand it.

So while you and I were side by side in school learning about Africans or Greeks, we were reading the stories aimed at us--outsiders to the African or Greek culture.

If you write for me, a woman who knows nothing about African-American culture I'll read your stuff. If you write for a woman who understands AA culture and enjoys it, then I probably won't read your stuff.

There is a way to write for all cultures at the same time, I think.

No matter what the color of our skin or our cultural backgrounds, we share common sins and longings. We share hopes and dreams. We all want to be loved and respected.

I think if you hook me with a universal longing in the very first page then I'll be able to get over the cultural differences that normally turn me off. I'll relate to your character. Under the color of her skin and the strange customs of her culture, she just wants to be loved, or she just wants to save the world, or she just wants to have a child, or whatever. She has some longing that I can relate to.

That's the only way I'm going to be interested in a culture that I don't understand, I think.