My latest column at Amazing Catechists talks about catechizing through fiction:
I’ve been a novelist for ten years. My second novel, In Name Only, (a Catholic historical romance) was the first Catholic novel to win the Gold Medal in Religious Fiction at the 2010 IPPY Awards and has been an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller for four months.
So what’s different about my novels?
Well, for one thing, they are unabashedly Catholic. While there are some who don’t agree with the use of fiction to catechize or evangelize, I don’t have a problem with it. After all, Jesus used parables to teach, didn’t He?
My first novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized parallel stories of myself and my great-grandmother. It illustrates the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage and why it is so important to obey these teachings. One young adult sent me a “fan” letter saying, “Your book has helped me to understand the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage more than any textbook.”
I have to admit, that while Emily’s Hope is popular at Catholic conferences, with NFP enthusiasts and faithful Catholics, its sales have been mediocre in the past few years. It does, however, seem to find its way into the hands of those who find it helpful.
However, I took a slightly different approach with my second novel, In Name Only, which is a romance that takes place in 1870’s Philadelphia. It is different from my first novel because the “teaching” is more subtle. It is also different from secular romances because it does not contain graphic sexuality. However, it does include the basics of the Theology of the Body, so sexual issues like promiscuity and pornography are dealt with tastefully. I also worked diligently to improve my writing style.
This approach seems to have paid off. In Name Only has been my most popular book thus far, and continues to be an Amazon Kindle Top 100 bestseller in Religious Fiction.
With my latest novel, Stealing Jenny, I wanted to illustrate why it is so important to be pro-life, especially in our current culture. Again, Catholic teaching is more subtle and I included characters who were not Catholic, nor planning to be Catholic.
Advanced reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. “Stealing Jenny is a gripping novel filled with engaging characters, a compelling mystery and a message which underscores the precious dignity of life. I literally couldn’t put it down and give Stealing Jenny my highest recommendation,” says Lisa M. Hendey, Founder of CatholicMom.com and author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. Author and Blogger Sarah Reinhard writes, “Stealing Jenny will keep you on the edge of your seat and probably destroy your sleep pattern as you stay up to find out what happens. But beyond being a great suspense, it’s also an excellent example of morals in action and family life redeemed. As a fan of Ellen Gable’s work already, I’m now officially getting a t-shirt!” Therese Heckenkamp of Traditional Catholic Novels.com says “Stealing Jenny is a smoothly written, chilling tale of gripping suspense. There are terrifying moments and heart-wrenching moments. Catholic faith and hope are tested. Above all, the sacredness and privilege of precious new life is made indisputably evident. I never wanted it to end!”
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach