Last week at the ACFW Conference, I had the honor of attending the awards gala and witnessing Allen Arnold, former senior vice president and fiction publisher at Thomas Nelson, receive ACFW’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Last night, as I read my ACFW Journal, I had the pleasure of reading an interview with Allen Arnold by Christa Allen.
I was particularly intrigued by Mr. Arnold’s response to Christa’s question, “What do you know now that you wish you’d known then (in relation to starting the fiction line)?”
The second part of his answer reads, “I learned quickly that if a story isn’t God honoring, then it isn’t worth telling or reading. Sure, there are great stories out there that have no Christian worldview. But they ultimately don’t leave the reader with truth or lasting hope. Life is too short to chase after novels that simply entertain. Entertainment is okay, but a story with eternal impact is far better.”
Wow. I totally applaud this answer. After all, our purpose in life is to glorify God. That should follow through in all we do, including what we spend our time on.
As a reader of mostly CBA (Christian Bookseller’s Association) books, I often feel a certain guilt over not reading more broadly, of not reading more general market books. In fact, just last week in a workshop at the ACFW Conference, a well-respected person in the publishing industry urged her workshop attendees to read widely, in both the Christian and general market. As writers, it is our job to know what’s out there, to know good stories. Period.
And yet part of me doesn’t want to waste my time on stories that don’t offer that ultimate hope of which Mr. Arnold speaks. What good is a story without God’s redemption at the center? And another part—the writer part—wants to read anything that garners attention (Hunger Games, anyone?), anything that is a good story.
So I’m not choosing sides here--I couldn't if I tried! More than anything, I want to start a conversation. What do you read? Do you tend to veer to a specific genre? CBA or ABA? Is there a balance, a line? Does that change if you’re a writer?
If you haven’t gotten a copy of the ACFW Journal or would like to read Allen Arnold’s full interview, click here.