I like to travel. This summer I had the enormous privilege of driving out West…Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Some sights were simply breathtaking. I stood in awe of the beauty of my country and the handiwork of my Creator. The trip was exhausting, however, as we only had two weeks and Tennessee is a fair piece from the first of our planned sights. But I would take nothing for the experience.
The experience…the journey.
I think it is my fascination with traveling–taking a journey–that drives me to write the novels that I do. They speak to a journey, a long road strewn with difficulties and little side paths in order to tell it. No road is easy in this life, and no one rolls down life’s highway at breakneck speed without a wreck or two. Sometimes it’s the gravel road that beckons, and other times it is the barely-viewable path through the hedges. All of them call to me as I seek to tell my stories.
I tired long ago of reading books that did not portray the human experience as it is (Christian fiction) where the central characters have few (if any) flaws and everything is always solved by a little prayer or hearing a sermon. Now, do not misunderstand–I know the power of prayer and the spiritual healing that God’s Word brings. It’s just that I also know what it’s like to feel far from God, to be unworthy of His love but unwilling to reach out to Him. I know what it’s like to be a hypocrite, to be too critical of others when my own faults are so many. I know what it is like to pray for forgiveness so fervently that it hurt. Now, I realize that God has the ability to truly see everything in black and white, but honestly, all I see are shades of grey. Life is tough. I believe God knows our struggle and patiently leads us through the battle; we will not emerge unscathed but war-worn, bloody, and riddled with scars. This is the human condition, and that is what I want to write.
I understand that the novels I write are now called edgy Christian fiction. While I am glad there is now a name for what I have been doing for the past twenty-two years, it does sadden me that we have to warn Christians before they read something realistic. Personally, I think we should warn them about the others (call it fantasy, maybe?) Christians must stop thinking of themselves as apart from sin in the world; we have been forgiven not removed. We must still live our lives in our imperfection each day…fail…repent…and go on. Why is that not a message for the lost? Why must we fool ourselves into thinking we can lead perfect lives? As Paul wrote, we must strive for perfection though it is unattainable–and not use that fact as an excuse to sin. Is that it? Are we afraid that if we admit we fall we may give ourselves permission to sin just because we are forgiven? Perhaps so. What I am sure of is I want to tell stories that are honest, sometimes gut wrenching, and always hopeful. In short, I want to tell our story, the journey of a follower of Christ.
In THE KING’S HEART, we accompany Lady Cornella on a journey, one she did not choose for herself. She is forced to reconsider her path, and in that decision her fate will be sealed. I believe we identify with Cornella–though that thought pains us when first we meet her–in that she must face the consequences of her choices and the sins of her heart in the harsh light of truth. Her travels are both long and difficult, but her influence for good or ill is immeasurable. How does her journey end? Read THE KING’S HEART to find out.