CSFF Blog Tour – On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Day 2

Did I mention yesterday that I wrote a review of Andrew Peterson‘s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness last November? At the time, I thought the book was due to release in January, so it seemed like the perfect time to start generating some talk about it. Lo and behold, the book didn’t come out until this month. Plenty of time for people to forget I ever mentioned it.

I bring this up now because every once in a while people ask me what I thought about the book. I am certainly not shy about voicing my opinion, as I’m sure you know by now, if you’ve stopped by A Christian Worldview of Fiction before 😉 . Rather than regurgitating my opinions, however, because we’re doing a tour for the book, I’d rather give you something else to think about.

Thing is, this book is fun, well-written, well-liked—from everything I’ve read—which doesn’t leave anything particularly controversial to discuss. So my next thought was to post an excerpt and let you see for yourself the quality of writing. I still might do that tomorrow, though Beth Goddard beat me to it in her post for the tour.

In hopes of settling on a particular angle to discuss the book, I decided to do a bit of touring before I wrote this post. Usually I operate in the opposite order—post, then read—but having posted late yesterday, I figured any early visitors would be occupied with that post anyway, so … more than you want to know, I understand. Getting on with it!

In my ventures into the blogsphere, I came upon a review of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, thanks to Brandon Barr, by Fantasy Book Critic who runs a site not dedicated to Christian fiction.

The response was incredibly favorable—glowing, you might say. Which is great, great, great. But then one of the commenters asked why it was considered Christian fiction. The site proprietor said it was because Andrew Peterson is a Christian and WaterBrook Press is a Christian publishing house. Then the author himself left his response to the question:

Thanks for the kind words, Robert.

To chime in on the “Christian Fantasy” question, it’s true that I’m a Christian and that WaterBrook publishes Christian books, but I want to be clear that I didn’t set out to write a “Christian novel”. There’s no Aslan/Jesus character. There’s no overbearing moral to the tale.

My goal was to tell a story that, ultimately, would make you want to keep turning the pages. I tried to, as Madeline L’Engle put it, “serve the work.” One of the quickest ways to turn me off to a story is to have the story itself take a back seat to some point that the author’s trying to make. Sure, there are aspects of the story that I hope shine light into the reader’s imagination, and perhaps into his soul, but that was never at the front of my mind while I was writing.

I’d be curious to hear whether or not someone who didn’t know I was a Christian would suspect that I am one upon finishing the book.

Once again, thank you for the gracious review, Robert, and I hope the rest of you enjoy it too. I’m off to the bookstore tomorrow (release day!) to stealthily rearrange the shelf placement of a certain, ahem, book.

Well, this writing with no clear intent to write a Christian novel has a tendency to set me off. Is he saying, therefore, that the book is NOT Christian? Or that it turned out that way by accident?

I’m sorry. Writing is such an intentional activity. I make choices all the time. And if the direction of the story heads somewhere I don’t want to go, then I change it, via my characters’ choices. Or I change my character if I think the desired direction and the character are somehow incongruous. Writing is not accidental.

That leaves “intentionally NOT Christian.” No Christ figure, though I certainly wouldn’t say there is no picture of redemption. And is such a “Christian worldview” appropriate in fiction? Of course. In fact it should be applauded, celebrated. Why is it we have to hedge around the subject? Jesus told lots of parables that didn’t picture Him dying a substitutionary death, and none of them were devoid of purpose. All of them were important in understanding what He came to accomplish.

I think our understanding of “Christian fiction” may be way too narrow.

OK, see what others have to say about On the Edge:

Sally Apokedak/ Brandon Barr/ Jim Black/ Justin Boyer/ Jackie Castle/ Valerie Comer/ CSFF Blog Tour/ Gene Curtis/ D. G. D. Davidson/ Jeff Draper/ April Erwin/ Beth Goddard / Marcus Goodyear/ Todd Michael Greene/ Jill Hart/ Katie Hart/ Michael Heald/ Timothy Hicks/ Christopher Hopper/ Jason Joyner/ Kait/ Carol Keen/ Mike Lynch/ Margaret/ Rachel Marks/ Shannon McNear/ Pamela Morrisson/ John W. Otte/ Deena Peterson/ Rachelle/ Steve Rice/ Cheryl Russel/ Ashley Rutherford/ Chawna Schroeder/ James Somers/ Donna Swanson/ Steve Trower/ Speculative Faith/ Robert Treskillard/ Jason Waguespac/ Laura Williams/ Timothy Wise

Highlighted links are bloggers I know have posted already.

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