Hello, everyone! Mary Jane here and I’m so excited to be talking about inspirational Christian fiction with you today. Christian fiction isn’t only my preferred reading genre, but what I write, too!
I’ve always been a voracious reader. From my earliest memories, books and I have been best friends. When I was about eight, my dad built a treehouse and it became my go-to reading spot. I read (and re-read) Charlotte’s Web, the Chronicles of Narnia, all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, and many more. I went to our city library every day after school and would curl up in a corner chair, a stack of books at my feet. We didn’t own a TV (and I still don’t) so as I grew into a teenager and then a young adult, reading was always my favorite way to spend my free time. I read everything: historical, non-fiction,
It wasn’t until I was a senior in college and volunteering at a crisis pregnancy clinic that another volunteer loaned me Christy. Now, even though I’d read all the classics that show virtuous behavior and have ‘morality tales’ like Elsie Dinsmore and Heidi and Polyanna, I’d never read anything like what we now call Christian fiction. I remember putting the book down and thinking, “I didn’t know there were books like this.”
Fast forward to 2009 when I read Bridget Jones’ Diary. It’s a very funny story that Helen Fielding based loosely on Pride and Prejudice. I liked the book, but I kept thinking how it really lost some of its sparkle with the immoral behavior and bad language. I was the head of Circulation at Whitman College Library at the time and, if you know much about circulation work, there’s a lot of time at the desk waiting for someone to need help. So, late in the fall I started writing Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits. I’d never written anything before, not even a poem. I was a reader, but not a writer. I just felt a need to put a story out there into the world that shone a light on the beauty living a Christian life. I wanted readers to know that young, fun, educated people didn’t have to give up excitement and love when they chose to live a moral life.
Fast forward again to 2017. More than thirty books later under three pen names, I’ve discovered Jesus in a way I wouldn’t have without Christian fiction. Some people don’t find romance a safe way to explore God’s love for us, but I think that examining the way we love, fall in love, endure heartbreak, and make decisions in our love lives really does apply to the age old questions of faith. Where our treasures are, there are hearts will be, right? As Christians, we are especially sensitive to the danger in letting our hearts get in the way of our calling.
As a reader, I pray before I read because I know that God can and will use anything to speak His truth to me. I want to “hear” what God is trying to say to me in my life. As a writer, I pray even harder before I write because I know that readers are looking to hear God’s truth, too. Some days I feel like the responsibility is too much, and I don’t think I should be trying to put any kind of faith journey into my books. But then I think back to my days at the library and I remember the yearning to write a story that brings Jesus right onto the pages of a funny, heartfelt romance.
Do you remember your first Christian fiction book? What about a time when Christian fiction spoke to you in a real and powerful way?
Thanks for having me over on your blog, Valerie, and I hope everyone has a fantastic (and Christian fiction-filled) week!
Valerie here. Mary Jane’s most recent release is Autumn’s Majesty, part of the Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series. Let’s give away ONE Kindle copy to one person who shops at amazon.com. Please comment by Saturday afternoon, and I’ll contact the winner before Sunday Edition!
Vivacious Jamie Lawson has a lot in common with her first grade students. She’s bright, curious, energetic, has a big heart… and lacks any kind of filter. Her friends laugh about how she can’t help sharing what’s on her mind, but her mother warns her that trouble will find a woman who can’t hold her tongue.
The day Jamie accidentally breaks her best friend’s trust, she finally realizes that what is charming in a six year old, just isn’t as adorable in an adult. She vows that with God’s help, she’s going to listen more and talk less, especially around handsome Theo Delis. He’ll be helping her run the Lawson Family Blueberry Farm for the summer, and it will be the perfect time for Jamie to learn a little introspection. His serious, no-nonsense demeanor is the polar opposite of her gabby personality, and she’s sure he’ll be drawn to her new, aloof personality.
But as the heat of an Arcadia Valley summer settles in, Jamie discovers there’s more to wisdom than silence and more to love than mystery. When an old friend needs confidential support can Jamie finally learn to lead with her heart, and not her mouth?
A story of deep friendship, laughter, and learning to listen to grace.
Mary Jane Hathaway is an award-nominated writer of Christian fiction and a home schooling mom of six young children who rarely wear shoes. She holds degrees in Linguistics and Religious Studies from the University of Oregon and lives with her habanero-eating husband, Crusberto, who is her polar opposite in all things except faith. They’ve learned to speak in short-hand code and look forward to the day they can actually finish a sentence. In the meantime, Virginia thanks God for the laughter and abundance of hugs that fill her day as she plots her next book. She also writes under the pen name of Virginia Carmichael and loves to meet readers on her facebook page of Mary Jane Hathaway or at her personal blog, The Things That Last.