Biblical Fiction: Dead or Alive?

At the writers conference I attended in March, I had an opportunity to meet with someone who is the head of a Christian agency and well known in Christian publishing. I didn’t go with the plan of talking with him, so was pretty proud of myself for taking the plunge. I knew it would be a good experience, both to speak with him and to hear his thoughts on the book I’m writing. Now, I was not expecting much–no, I really didn’t think I would tell him about my story, he would respond with delight, and hand me a contract on the spot. The dream is there but I was feeling pretty realistic. However, I have spent a bit of time thinking over some of the things he said, and I have to admit, I am still puzzled by his attitude.

His first response to my pitch of “I’ve written an historical novel about Solomon growing up in King David’s palace,” was “People aren’t reading Biblical fiction. That just doesn’t sell, and no one is publishing it.”

I was stunned and, yes, I’m a bit of a slow thinker, so it wasn’t until I was back in my hotel room that I thought: “What about Tessa Afshar? Ginger Garrett? Connilyn Cossette? Francine Rivers? Jill Eileen Smith? Stephanie Landsem? Mesu Andrews? These writers may not be on the New York Times bestseller list, but they are all publishing Biblical fiction and doing reasonably well. I am currently reading Tessa Afshar’s Land of Silence, am enjoying it, and believe it is very well written. 

Did I misunderstand him? No, the conversation went on from there as he explained the ups and downs of Biblical fiction and told me why no one was interested in that any more. Of course, I tried to tell him that my book was special and many people would be interested in it and love to read it. Well, I didn’t exactly say all that, but I did spend more time telling him of my story, but I did not leave with a positive impression.

Looking through the authors I mentioned above, I found they were published by six different publishers, so there seems to be quite a few publishers still interested in these books.

So, am I wrong, and is he right? Are people not interested in reading Biblical fiction? What about you? Have you read any of these authors lately? Have you any others to add and recommend?

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Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers

Leota’s Garden is not the latest by Francine Rivers, but it is new to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Leota is an 84 yr old woman, living alone, and estranged from her children. Her daughter, Nora, is very bitter towards her mother and has kept her children from getting to know her. However, Leota’s granddaughter, Annie, finds she needs to break away from her mother’s control over her life and seeks out the grandmother she has never really known.

Through getting to know her grandmother, Annie finds out the secrets of her grandmother’s past and the reasons for her mother’s misconceptions. In trying to live out her faith, Annie works to reconcile her family, helping them all to learn about love and forgiveness.

I liked this book because I could relate to the characters. I have seen how hurts and unforgiveness can be caused by not always

knowing the truth of other people’s lives. I appreciated the characters and the struggles they go through, and how Annie puts her faith into action. She has to step away from her mother’s control and stand up for herself, but she never stops loving her mother or trying to help her to understand how she feels.