Check Out This Jammy Blog!

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.”

Who knows?


sally apokedak said...

Hey, thanks for the plug!

And thanks for telling me what you think about edgy Christian fiction.

I worry about what I write, not wanting to write anything offensive. I mean it's all well and good for CBA editors to tell me to knock on the ABA doors, but if something is offensive to God, I don't want to go around CBA to get published. I don't want to publish something offensive.

But I probably don't have to worry too much about it. It's not like the editors anywhere are banging on my door begging me to publish with them.

I'm thinking before I get published we just might see on the shelves a book about a magical blue bottle from a brilliant young authoress who reads to and writes for a pile of younger brothers and sisters.

Erin said...

I like this post. I agree.

Noel De Vries said...

Sally, I think it's like friends of my family, they have a son who was always worrying whether he was saved or not. His mom told him the ones who worried were the ones who didn't need to worry.

You worry that what you write might be offensive, which shows that you're sensitive to things that are offensive, not insensitive. From what I've read of your novel, you're keeping with your goal.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Good thoughts, Noel. And I'm pretty happy Sally is back in the blogging business. She always gives me ideas for my own posts!;-)

And may you both find publishers, sooner than later!