Monday, July 21, 2008

A View from James Scott Bell's Window

I am honored to share with you a recent email interview I conducted with James Scott Bell. It was fun to take a peek behind the scenes of his latest series - written primarily for the general market! Welcome James Scott Bell!

I've read that your intent for this Ty Buchanan series is not so much to write for the Christian market, but to write really great stories without all of the gratuitous sex and language. You have certainly done that! Your reviews bear that out as well. There were two passages in particular that I thought illustrated your ability to do this, yet you retained all of the power and grittiness.

p. 140, "You see, for some men, the ruling part is not the head, but south of the equator, and that is what gets them into trouble."

p. 202, "Nydessa screamed I was lying, all in a language where "K" is the primary sound. She laces so many of them together in such a short time - with the term mother making several noted appearances - I thought I was in a speeded-up Mamet film."

You also proved something one of my college English professors used to tell us all the time. He said that cursing only showed a lack of intelligence. You could cut a much uglier wound with intelligent language. Examples:

p.130 Q telling Ty about the iProd: "A quarter second on the neck, and your guy's muscles contract. One to four seconds and he 's on the ground, confused as a Democrat with a tax break. Five seconds, he starts thinking he's Al Gore and the earth is melting."

I've said all of that in order to ask this....would you please tell your readers a little more about writing for the general market vs. the Christian market. Your website even differentiates your novels as "mainstream" and "inspirational". There has been a lot of discussion about Christian fiction with "covert" messages being called "edgy". In an interview I read yesterday a Christy award-winning author stated:

I hate it when they rave about the book and then qualify it with "readers of Christian suspense will enjoy it." As if Christian readers aren't at grade level or something. A lot of Christian fiction today is more than ready for prime time, and I, for one, would like to be reviewed in the secular press without the qualifier.

Does this speak to the trend in Christian publishing? Should there be a difference? Should it be stated? I personally think your approach with the Buchanan series is honest and effective. Are you getting pressure from "mainstream" to get more graphic? Bottom line, I'm just very interested in your experience with this series.

Great questions, Kim.

I personally offer a distinction in my fiction as "truth in
advertising." I know there are Christian readers who prefer
traditional Christian fiction. And I want them to know that my
mainstream series may not be what they're looking for. On the other
hand, I also want them to know that I don't think there is anything in
the mainstream books that they'll find offensive at all.

Similarly, some general market readers might not care for traditional
Christian fiction, even though the quality may be there in the
writing--not just my own books, but in those of the many talented
Christian authors out there today.

I'm not getting any pressure to "get more graphic." My favorite movie
genre is 40's film noir, and I love the crime fiction of the 40's and
50's. All extremely effective (and better written than a lot of stuff
today) without being what some would consider too "graphic."

Personally, I find this style of writing more elegant. I think it's
much better to let the reader's imagination fill in blanks.

Do you have more Ty Buchanan books planned? If so, would you share a peek?

Yes. Try Fear will be out next year (probably July). It begins like this:

The cops nabbed Santa Claus at the corner of Hollywood and
Gower. He was driving a silver Camaro and wearing a purple G-string and a red Santa hat. And nothing else on that warm, December night. According to his driver's license his name was Carl Richess, a 33-year-old from West Hollywood. But he insisted he was the one, the only, Santa Claus. He said he could prove it, too. He pointed repeatedly to his hat.

Can you share with your readers what exciting things God is doing in your life right now? Words of encouragement?

Change happens. We can't make it stop, nor should we. Instead, we must thrust ourselves into the Weaver's hands. I like the Phillips translation of Romans 8:28, which indicates that God is weaving "everything that happens...into a pattern for good." We can't see the pattern from up close. But when we step back, it's like a tapestry. You are no longer aware of the warp and woof; you see, instead, the picture He intends. And it's always stunning.


Brittanie said...

Great interview! I loved reading his answers. :)

Scrambled Dregs said...

Great interview. Thanks, guys.

I can't wait to read Try Fear. What a fabulous opening.