Today Jennifer will be sharing her thoughts and insights on embracing Christian themes while writing a Christian novel. Her post is honest and provides us with a look inside her emotions as she wrote Afta-U.
EMBRACING CHRISTIAN THEMES
WHILE WRITING AFTA-U
BY JENNIFER-LYNN KENISTON
I am going to be honest here: when I began writing the first draft of Afta-U, I wasn’t writing it with an audience in mind. It was a personal book, something I had to write. Simply put, it was a life-long dream of mine to write a full-length novel, and I had to build up the confidence in myself that I could actually do it. So, I had no problem initially embracing writing Christian themes for this first draft, since some of the themes registered deep inside of me even though the story itself was fictional.
But then I finished writing the first draft.
And for a fleeting moment after I finished writing this first draft, my initial joy turned to fear. I began to panic and question if writing these Christian themes throughout this novel would discourage readers from reading it. It was then that my friend, Lisa, said to me: “Do you know what the number one best-selling book of all time is? Well, let me tell you: it’s the Bible! And over 5 billion copies have been sold.”
I smiled. I needed to hear that reminder. I also discovered my niche audience. It was the Christian reader. A few of the prevalent Christian themes in Afta-U, are ones that I’m still personally working to achieve as my novel is released into the mainstream. For example the idea of “Let Go Let God.” Like Jean, I often find myself trying to control situations and I still struggle to release and have faith in leaving it all up to God and His plan. There are other powerful themes mixed into the story, such as the idea of forgiveness for oneself and others, and being present in the now and not trapped in the past or future.
When I began the editing for my début novel, I did tone down some of the Christian themes and scenes, but I was determined not to be deterred from writing these. Instead I was going to embrace these themes and do so without forcing them onto the reader and taking away from the enjoyment found in reading the story itself.
When I finished the multitude of drafts and editing, I realized that, yes, the audience would be these Christian readers, but perhaps those non-Christian readers would actually enjoy the book and who knows, there could be that one reader who might need to either connect or reconnect with their faith, and perhaps they will decide to do so, after they have finished reading and put down Afta-U.
Thank you, Jennifer, for joining my readers and me today to share your thoughts and feelings on what, for me at least, is an area of interest and one filled with many questions. For those of us wanting to include a Christian theme in our work, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, these are issues to be vetted on a personal level like so many others.
Michael’s smile broadened. “It seems you’re surprised to see me, Jean. Don’t tell me you thought that they’d leave an eleven-year-old boy locked away forever.”
Twenty-nine years after the tragic death of her childhood best friend, Hope, Jean Cartwright Rhodes returns to her hometown with her husband and daughter after she inherits the house her friend’s family once lived in. Now, years later, she finds herself haunted by a dark truth – and by the specter of Hope herself.
Every time Jean looks through her kitchen window, she sees two stark reminders of her troubled past; the Afta-U sailboat, ironically named after young Hope, and the old oak tree where her eleven-year-old friend met her death at the hands of another child.
Afta-U unfolds as a psychological chess match, a complex web of intrigue, unexpected relationships, lies, and devastating secrets as Jean struggles with the impact of decisions she made long ago on all the lives around her. When Jean confronts and tries to come to grips with Hope’s killer, she finds herself waging a personal battle between madness and redemption.
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MEET JENNIFER-LYNN KENISTON
Raised in Hanson, Massachusetts, the author earned a Master of Arts degree in English, from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy, from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. Jennifer-Lynn currently works as a project manager for a company that provides cloud software products for call centers at small, medium, and enterprise companies. In April 2014, she started her own business, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, writing resumes and cover letters. She now lives and writes in Concord, New Hampshire, and enjoys teaching Spinning classes in her free time.
CONNECT WITH JENNIFER:
Perhaps you have considered a Christian theme in your memoir or novel, and further you have questioned whether using such themes is going to help or hurt you as a writer. If so, maybe you’d like to share a bit about how you rationalized your final choice. Let’s talk!