Monday, July 12, 2010

A Nightmare for CBA Fiction?

OK, not quite tomorrow. How about in a week?

In my last post I talked a little about Robin Parrish (Dominion Trilogy, Offworld) and his latest novel Nightmare. It was a featured book of the CFBA this week, and my copy has just arrived from Amazon. I haven't started it, but I've heard not to read it too late at night.

It is being billed as a paranormal suspense. It deals with a girl whose parents were some of the country's foremost ghost hunters. After a friend of hers disappears, she has to help the fiance find out what happened.

I've followed Robin for a long time, as he used to run a significant culture website called "Infuze" that examined the intersection of art and faith. I know that he loves the Lord. I also know that he has a particular taste in speculative fiction and is trying to explore some bigger ideas with his work. He was a big fan of Lost and I believe he uses that influence in his writing (never really watched it myself, so I can't say for sure).

The point of this is, there were some reviews of Nightmare that questioned its place in the CBA realm of Christian fiction. (For the uninitiated, CBA is a term used to designate fiction written primarily for an evangelical Christian audience, usually through a store like Lifeway or Family Christian Bookstores. CBA is more precise here than saying "Christian fiction").

It has been argued frequently and widely through the blogosphere on what constitutes Christian (CBA) fiction. Since I've been paying attention since around 2005, the tentpoles have increased significantly in just that time. The market is dominated by historical romance and Amish fiction, but includes quality suspense, chick lit, mystery, legal thrillers, and is starting to include more and more speculative fiction (such as science fiction and fantasy).

Having not read Nightmare yet, I'm a little limited in the claims I can make off of it right now. Still, is there room for CBA fiction to grow? Speculative fiction that encompasses more wide-ranging topics is very popular in mainstream culture (I'm quite interested in the upcoming moving Inception).

The CBA could move into other literary genres as well. My next post will talk about a new crime thriller, Back on Murder, that may also move boundaries some.  Check back!

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