Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”
Patrick Carr: “I wasn’t so much inspired to write a Christian book as I wanted to write the best book I could. That it was Christian fiction was more because that’s my belief system and my worldview. I don’t really like that we have ABA and CBA. To me that’s like saying “Oh, you can’t read that,” or “You won’t like that. It’s Christian.” A great story is a great story.“
BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”
PC: “To write the best story that I can at that point in time. Hopefully, as we get more experience as writers we progress in the craft. A Christian book, piece of music, anything, should be the very best we can make it. If we’re doing this to honor God, it should never be anything less that our absolute best.”
BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”
PC: “The hardest part of writing a good book is making it good, Christian or not. For a Christian book it’s allowing the faith portion to flow in an organic way. I don’t like being preached to in my literature no matter what the writer’s worldview is. That kind of author intrusion always comes across as heavy-handed, and the work suffers for it. Lately I’ve noticed that there are shows on TV or Amazon or Netflix that seem to have some kind of checklist they have to satisfy and it ruins the product. I’m sure people feel the same about Christian writing that sacrifices the story for the message.”
BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”
PC: “It would be nice to see a little variety. If you look at the awards that are given for Christian writing, they’re dominated by romance in some form. This means that most Christian fiction is written by women and most Christian fiction is read by women. Men largely avoid it. Is that what we really want?”
BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”
PC: “Better story-telling. There are some amazing Christian fiction authors out there, but there are also a lot of authors that are so intent on pounding the message into the story that the craft suffers. This is just my viewpoint, that craft should be the first priority. Others will say that Christian fiction should make the message paramount. I get that, but it’s important to remember that most Christian fiction is being bought and read by Christians. In essence, we’re already preaching to the choir.“
BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”
PC: “That’s funny. My wife asked me today if I thought I would collaborate with another writer on my next book. I think it’s hard to keep the voice from getting muddled during collaboration. I’ve seen cases where it’s been done well, but I’m pretty intent on how I want my narrative and my characters to sound. I don’t know if I could ever do it.”
BOR: How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?
PC: “The craft has gotten better in the sense that there are authors that have been writing for a long time, much longer than me, and so the story-telling has improved. Of course, the availability of self-publishing has pushed the needle to the other end of the spectrum. There are some very skilled self-published authors out there, but there’s also a lot of low quality work. This isn’t just Christian Fiction, this is ABA as well. The real problem here is that the market is being pushed towards cheaper product and people aren’t willing to pay for a decent book. I had a reader flame me on a review because my publisher had set the price of my kindle book at $5.99. So a venti-mocha-caramel-latte candy-bar-in-a-cup that won’t last more than thirty minutes is worth more than a book that took a year to write and produce through seven rounds of editing and polishing. This is the mentality we’re up against.”
BOR: Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?
PC: “I don’t know. I’ve only worked with Christian companies and only one of those. That’s such a limited amount of experience that I wouldn’t even begin to conjecture an answer.”
BOR: What are your future plans for new novels? Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?
PC: “I’m in grad school right now, so nothing will be coming for the next year or two. In the meantime, I’m hoping the publishing world starts to sort itself out, but the prospects are grim. People read less and less each year. Writing is difficult enough and the commitment in time and energy is hard to justify if you can make as much taking a part time job as you can putting out another book. We’ll just have to wait and see. I have some wonderful ideas, but there are so many amazing things to see and learn and do here in God’s creation and time is such a precious commodity.
Thank you for your time Mr. Carr! We appreciate your insight and honesty.