Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Diamond of the Rockies" series by Kristen Heitzmann

Although I write Christian fiction myself, I'm not always a big fan of the genre. Too often, Christian novels are more like morality plays, with lots of lessons, but little character development or plot. It's almost as if authors feel that the only way their books will be considered "Christian" is if the characters constantly stop in the middle of the plot to convert another character, and that every plot point needs to revolve around some religious experience.  But I believe that, as C.S. Lewis put it, "[t]he rules for writing a good passion play or a good devotional lyric are simply the rules for writing tragedy or lyric in general" (Lewis, 46). Good Christian fiction needs to be good fiction, not just have a good message.

Over the years, I have read a lot of Christian fiction, some good, some mediocre, some downright lousy. Yesterday, I just finished reading the final book in Kristen Heitzmann's "Diamond of the Rockies" series, a trilogy of historical Christian fiction that recounts the adventures of a young Italian-American woman whose journey to a mining town in Colorado changes her life. I think this is the best Christian series I've read since the two Stonewyck trilogies by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella. Although they're infused with faith, the stories themselves stand up as solid fiction. I relished these books and wish I hadn't finished reading them, because I still want to know what will happen next!

Kristen Heitzmann utilizes conflict far better than I fear I ever shall. Every single character is almost always at conflict with every other character in some way, whether emotionally, physically, or spiritually. I know that feeling of "what happens next?" comes from her masterful weaving of different conflicts together, and I can only hope some day I'll manage to do half as well. I have a tendency to get far too fond of my characters and want life to be nice and smooth for them, but that doesn't make for very interesting reading. These books have actually renewed my determination to finish writing Salem and start editing that trilogy. And yes, I plan to add more conflict whenever possible :-)

Works Cited
Lewis, C.S. “Christianity and Literature.” Religion and Modern Literature: Essays in Theory and Criticism. Ed. G.B. Tennyson and Edward E. Ericson, Jr. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975. 46-54.

(Originally posted on Inscriptions on May 22, 2008.)

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