I’m always a little astonished by the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy book tours. I mean that in a good way! Folks really get into discussing whichever book is up and opinions are freely given. It shouldn’t shock me anymore that not everyone agrees with me, but of course it still does.
So not everyone loved Auralia’s Colors. If you click through the participant list from my Monday post, you’ll see that just about everyone has an opinion or two. A few folks appear to be on vacation, but they’re few and far between. So many readers had unique and interesting comments that I can’t even begin to mention them all. John posted a great interview though.
One of the major things I find amusing is all the discussion about themes. It’s like a treasure hunt. Folks are finding the most interesting themes under nearly every rock. And they’re good themes, and when I read that the theme is about government interfering with people’s lives, or about art being undervalued in society or (fill in the blank), I think, yes, that strand is definitely present in this book. I found a theme of selfishness versus freely giving, myself, in the juxtaposition of the absent queen who hoarded colors versus Auralia, who finds colors, creates beauty of them, and gives them away. And I’m curious what Jeffrey Overstreet thinks the main theme of his novel is. I don’t think I’ve seen it said anywhere, and now I wish I had another chance to ask him the question!
Does it matter if everyone saw a different theme? Not necessarily. Because we all bring our own lives into play when we read. Our own experiences *color* how we interact with words on the page. And I really see that clearly in hopping from blog to blog, that this story meant different things to different folk.
But I do think theme is important. Very much so. As a writer, I do extensive pre-planning of my own novels. The characters and a couple of scenes rotate around in my head but until I figure out what the story is *about*, it doesn’t really grow into something solid. For me, what the story is *about* usually translates into theme.
Overstreet said this in the interview I posted Tuesday:
I knew the core of the story from the beginning. The core was the question that Anne asked: “Why is it that people tend to reach an age where they fold up their imaginations and put them in a closet?” I was inspired by the fairy-tale imagery that sprang into my head. The story began to circle that question.
To me, this process, this core, sounds to me like the theme, at least by definition. His purpose was to explore imagination, to try to see the world (nature) through the eyes of someone who delighted in it.
Some folks were put off by the distance from the characters, and that’s definitely a downside of omniscient point-of-view. For me, the beauty of the prose made up for that. I don’t say that lightly, because I am a huge stickler for pov stuff and wouldn’t have thought it possible for me to succumb to the rhythm of the language to such a degree. I see nothing in Overstreet’s writing to emulate, however. That style isn’t mine, but I can still appreciate the beauty in it.
The usual discussion of what makes Christian fiction Christian fiction came up again. I’ve been guilty of it before, but it seems to have been talked to death. Some folks (not many, but some) want each novel to have a message. A pointy message, not just an undercurrent of a theme that may not be seen by everyone. Again, I’ll quote Overstreet (because he is quoting Scripture here, and it’s very applicable):
I take the Psalms very literally now — the heavens do “declare the glory of God,” and the days do “pour forth speech.”
Does creation step onto a soap box and preach the Four Spiritual Laws? Not so much. But it is there, enticing us, luring us into thinking about the One who created it. Nature–beauty–art–words–colors–all these things are created by God. If we are looking for God, we will find him in all those things, and those things are signposts, that if we continue to think and follow, they will lead us to the Truth. Yes, with a capital T. I’m not talking that Nature equals God. I’m saying all creation points to God.
And if someone doesn’t want to see that beauty at all, doesn’t want to allow beauty to turn their heart towards God, then a soapbox isn’t going to help. It’ll hinder, turn them away. Let us first be attracted to the beauty and allow it to lead us closer to the Light.
Wow. Okay. So that was my soapbox. And now I’m off to polish up The Girl Who Cried Squid, which really isn’t a story like Overstreet’s at all. But it points to the same God, for those who might be searching from a different angle.