Without further ado, let me introduce my first special guest, the lovely Hope Ann.
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and writes regular articles for Kingdom Pen as the Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can find out more about her at https://authorhopeann.com/ (less)
1. If you write romance into your stories, how much intimacy are you comfortable writing, and why?
A kiss is about as far as I tend to go, when I do have romance—I don’t have terribly much so far. Or adding little things, like a character embracing his wife or brushing her hair out of her eyes. If a couple was married, I might go as far as the shutting of a bedroom door, but there are some things that are private and even though they are real and beautiful in their place, I don’t feel the need to detail them out in my own writing.
2. If you write scenes with violence, what do you rely on as a guide/gauge?
I go by feel, mainly. I don’t write things I’d be uncomfortable with my parents or siblings reading. I want the reader to be able to see what is happening, but there’s generally no need to go into graphic details of a torn body or a beating. Besides, a scene is generally more powerful when the emotions and thoughts are focused on more than the physical pain and horror. Subtext brings the reality of it across better than just a blow by blow description of what is happening.
3. If you write magic into your work, could you please explain why you choose to do so?
As I define magic, no. I don’t write it. When I think of magic, I think of spells and chants and I prefer not to write that—not to mention I know my target audience won’t care for it. I do, however, have things that aren’t normal to this world. A stone that holds storms, for example. Some might call it magical, but it’s just how things are. Or people might have powers, but they are what we’d consider supernatural abilities, granted by the King; like the ability to walk in an alternate realm. In the future I might create something like Brandon Sanderson’s magic—which I hardly consider magic because it’s ‘explained’. It’s not some mysterious force, it’s part of life. Anyway… I have more about magic on my blog for those who care to see my detailed thoughts on it.
4. In your opinion is Christian Fantasy becoming too worldly?
I’ve not noticed it becoming worldly. Then again, I’ve mainly just read Enclave authors so I really don’t know who much is out there… yeah, it’s a nonanswer. I don’t know, but I like what I’ve read.
5. In your own words how would you define ‘clean’ fiction?
Fiction that shows truth and morals without being sensual, containing swearing, dark magic, and gory violence. It’s a pretty subjective, I know. I don’t mind darkness in a book. That’s what makes the truth stand out. A clean book shows evil as evil, in the end, and good as good. It shows the rewards and punishments for both (and this can be done even if the hero is martyred and the villain seems to have won. It doesn’t always mean conversions and happy endings). But while I don’t mind darkness, I don’t care for reading excessive amounts of swear words, sensuality, or a lot of dark magic.
6. Do you believe Christian Fantasy should be written to appeal to general or selective readership? Could you explain why?
I think it depends; there isn’t one rule to fit everything. But while a Christian will get the most out of Christian fantasy because they can apply what they learn to life better, the story should be engaging in its own right. An unbeliever should be able to pick up a book and read it and find it just as exciting as a Christian would. They shouldn’t get a chapter into it, then leave it in disgust because they are being preached to. When I write, I write with a Christian audience in mind and hope to inspire them. But I also keep in mind what they know already and don’t try to preach or explain the whole Gospel message in my story. There’s a time for preaching, but a novel isn’t normally that place. If an unbeliever reads one of my stories, I hope they will enjoy the story for the story.
And a couple of random questions completely unrelated to this topic just because I’m nosy and have your attention.
What is always in your refrigerator that never gets eaten?
Leftover spaghetti. I like the meal fine, but leftovers… no one eats it in my family; at least not the store-bought sauce. They devour the homemade stuff.
The worst thing someone ever said about your writing?
Eh…not sure. I generally don’t try to remember such things. Critiques I don’t count as bad things because they help me get better. I don’t remember any particularly harsh things people said for no reason. Then again, if they say something and I don’t agree, I just find it rather hilarious rather than get upset.
Worst haircut experience?
I like getting my hair cut. So none. ;)
Favourite sandwich fillings?
Does lunchmeat count?
Thank you so much to Hope Ann. I hope you enjoyed hearing her thoughts. Join me tomorrow as Claire Banschbach answers the same questions.