I’ve always believed that stories are a part of our human nature. There’s something in us that longs to be inspired, entertained, or a mix of both while preserving the memories of our past.
The importance of readers
As a writer of both fiction and non-fiction Christian books, the drive to tell stories is at the core of what I do, but for authors to really make a difference it’s not enough to simply weave truth into books. Readers themselves need to read the story with a discerning eye, looking beyond the surface to understand the point the author is trying to drive home.
What did Shakespeare really mean?
Back in 2005, I was an undergrad at SUNY Stony Brook, about to graduate. Then, I struggled with the idea that literature could be interpreted various ways. I mean, Shakespeare HAD to have one meaning behind his plays, right?!
Apparently, my professors didn’t think so. After endless papers and debates, the true meaning of The Taming of the Shrew has yet to be discovered!
A true literature lesson
But, as time went by, I began to realize that the beauty of fiction is best revealed when the reader looks through his own eyes, when he or she applies his or her personal history to the characters, the plot line, and the dialogue.
For example, I’m a lover of French classics—the Count of Monte Cristo and Les Misérables for starters. Yes, that’s because French is one of my other languages. It’s also because they’re awesome stories that grab the heart of human nature.
But, when I look at these classics through the lens of my own upbringing, my own story, I draw messages from them that may differ from what you see. I don’t just see the story of social injustice when I follow Jean Valjean’s flight from oppression. I see an individual crying out for a new beginning that is not possible under the Old Testament law.
Is this what Victor Hugo meant?
But the story takes on new life as I interpret it through the lens of Christianity.
Finding truth in fiction
As an author, I want you to feel Will’s emotional battles when you pick up In the Midst of the Flames. I hope that you’ll join Leila in her journey to reclaim her marriage when you read, In the Shadow of Your Wings. But you’ll find so much more in each story when you see them through the lens of your story.
As In the Dead of the Night, the final chapter of the Northshire saga, rolls on toward production, I can’t help but wonder what truths readers have discovered through the series. Yes, I hope you can see the importance of fatherhood, the power of forgiveness and the way to overcoming loneliness and unexpected grief. These are lessons each of the characters portray in their own lives.
But the most powerful lessons will be the conclusions that you draw.
Would you share what you’ve learned in the comments?