A wonderful blogger is back in business—Sally Apokedok, of All About Children's Books. She is, among other things, a children’s writer, no-nonsense reviewer, and Shannon Hale fan. You should get along fine. :)
She is also liking my novel … did I mention she’s smart, chic, and in possession of flawless taste?
But anyway, scorning to dip her toes, Sally rejoined the kidlit blogosphere with a cannonball splash, posting on sexuality in Christian YA novels, and posing the question: what is it that editors want?
I’ll tell you what I want: I want Mr. Merriam or whoever it is in charge of the dictionary nowadays to remove “edgy” and “gritty” from his next edition. For the longest time, that’s all I heard in CBA circles. “Editors want gritty, realistic fiction.” “People want edgy novels.” It was like an entire city discussing the same tabloid, month after month, instead of waking up to the fact that millions of newspapers are printed every day.
The American Booksellers Association is not obsessed with gritty—gritty is run of the mill. It’s such an enormous publishing world that anything is acceptable. Of course, that’s good and bad, but in the end, there’s no Establishment tugging you down a narrow passage.
The image all this brings to my mind is Jesus, telling his disciples to be in the world, but not of the world. It seems many Christians have gotten it backwards: they’re of the world, but not in it. We’ve created a sort of sub-culture, and in the desperate attempt to reach the people around us, we clutch at a naïve assumption about ABA readers, that they all prefer gritty novels. In fact, it’s just not true.
Five years down the road, edgy Christian novels will be so yesterday, and we’ll have moved on to something else, some other buzzword, some other innovative effort to attract outsiders. But the ABA world will still be publishing all across the board, as they’re doing now. Crap Clique books alongside sweet tales like The Penderwicks. Stupid Captain Underpants beside gems like Leepike Ridge.
And maybe—you never know—maybe even a debut about a “hot, humid swamp at the bottom of a mountain and a crisp ice city at the top,” by an author who explores the “differences between contentment and apathy, lust and love, and greed and a proper desire for quality of life.”