Saturday, August 26, 2017

Where does faith fit in?

My third novel has come out. It looks gorgeous. It has a cat on the road on the cover. And yes, there is faith in it, somewhere, because there's faith in me. But no, it's not a Christian novel. The biggest question of faith in Subtraction though isn't about God at all, it's about humanity. Can we be trusted? Will we always do the wrong thing? Will the innocent always suffer?

A math teacher hides his own hurts - the lives subtracted from his path, the families he's lost. Now he teaches a class full of kids subtracted from regular schooling - misfits perhaps more lacking in hope even than he. Then a girl goes missing, subtracted from class and bringing everything back. Can the teacher forgive himself for losing a child? Can he forgive the world for threatening her? And can he save her?

There are some Christian characters in my novel. Faith matters to them and they even talk about it once in a while. But faith doesn't matter to the protagonist. He's not about to be converted. I'm guessing neither is the reader. So why do I put my faith in there?

I think the answer is that faith is a part of me. If my imaginary characters are part of me too, at least some of them must be faithful. Others will have questions - my head is full of arguments. Some will be determined never to believe. But belief is there, in their lives and mine, and I hope it's as natural in the novels as it is in the world around my readers. I'm not writing these novels to strengthen the faith of Christians, nor to give faith to non-Christians. I'm writing them to entertain, to intrigue, to capture and absorb my readers, to pull them into lives that aren't their own, so maybe they'll see the world through different eyes and enjoy the experience. If the experience changes them, that's a huge bonus to any author. But first I just want to intrigue - to make you turn another page.

Subtraction's not about faith; it's about people. Will you read it?

Meanwhile, here are some reviews of other books where faith plays a part. Find some coffee and choose your next read.

A Question of Faith by Nicole Zoltack is a short novel offering an intriguing blend of faith and magic, and inviting readers to ask the question, can these co-exist. Faith and questions of faith fill the story, though the presence of magic renders it intriguingly unconventional. The protagonist certainly doesn't believe in magic, but when magic invades her life, this solid faith offers something half-way in between a lifeline and an anchor drowning her in the bottom of the sea. Can faith and magic coexist? Can faith be true and yet be different from the faith of neighbors and friends? Is faith big enough to embrace "more"? Enjoy this intriguing tale with some dark five-star coffee.

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett is a much more conventional faith-filled novel. Set at the beginning of the era of National Parks, in a time when women knew their place and the rich knew they could make the land serve their needs, and in a world where faith was very much part of life, it tells the story of a young woman who believes the heavens (and Mount Rainier) declare God's glory. But how does the mountain's promise of death and danger fit with her picture of a loving God? Perhaps this faith too needs to expand to embrace more. It's another thought-provoking tale, very Christian, faith-filled but ready to question, and sweetly romantic. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

Faith plays a part in Pat Bertram's Unfinished too - not the part of trying to convert anyone, but the part that respectfally accepts other people have faith; the part that reveals how faith itself has much forming and reforming to do. Telling the story of a bereaved woman, it's heart-breakingly wise and real. But it's also built around questions of guilt and betrayal, and curious revelations from the past. An absorbing novel, this elegant tale should be read with an elegant four-star cup of coffee.

Meanwhile in Contact by Walt Socha, the faith in question is more Buddhist than Christian - a fascinating concept in a story that takes modern-day adventurers to a very real historical world, watching them try to rebuild in a way that will keep them alive and maybe lead us all to a gentler present. I love this series and can't wait for the next one. The historical research is fantastic, the cast of characters is fascinating, the premise... a series to enjoy with lots of elegant four-star cups of coffee.

Embracing the Seasons by Gunilla Norris is a book of Christian reflections on nature - a beautiful gift book of poetry, prose and spiritual exercises, each inspired by events or items in a garden. It's a lovely gift book for anyone seeking to find, hold onto, embrace or be embraced by faith. Enjoy with some well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.

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