Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Words of Grace and Hope

Katherine Paterson has written some of my favourite children's books. This week she wrote the letter to encourage writers of NaNoWriMo to keep on writing. This led me to her website and the question and answer below. I love it. Sometimes when people find out I am writing a book (something I've been doing in my head for 20+ years) they ask me if it is a "Christian" book. I am always tempted to reply, "I don't know. Is it saved?" Grates, grates, grates on my nerves that question does.

"In what ways has your religious conviction informed your writing? And would you comment on the presence (or lack ) of religious content, specifically Christian, in recent children's literature (say the last fifteen years or so)?"

Katherine Paterson answers:

"I think it was Lewis who said something like: "The book cannot be what the writer is not." What you are will shape your book whether you want it to or not. I am Christian, so that conviction will pervade the book even when I make no conscious effort to teach or preach. Grace and hope will inform everything I write.

You're asking me to comment on fifteen years of 5000 or so books a year. Whew! We live in a Post-Christian society. Therefore, not many of those writers will be Christians or adherents of any of the traditional faiths. Self-consciously Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) writing will be sectarian and tend to propaganda and therefore have very little to say to persons outside that particular faith community. The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress."(emphasis mine)

Other questions and answers can be found here.

6 comments:

Black Pete said...

Amen. "Jacob Have I Loved" will be read a thousand years from now.

Hope said...

A very, very good book. It sticks with a person.

Black Pete said...

All that said, I am taking some trouble to avoid commenting on C.S. Lewis, however, who I think was rather too self-consciously "Christian" in his fiction. It's difficult, but I am trying...

Hope said...

Restraint duely(sp?) noted.

Black Pete said...

"Duly"--sorry, it's my adult literacy instructor showing... :)

Re the above: A Grief Observed is simply marvelous.

annie said...

I love the quote you mentioned. What a challenge.