I have had the pleasure of not only getting to know Kat Heckenbach over the last couple of weeks but also getting to read her first novel, Finding Angel. Kat is delightful person and a writer of great young adult (YA) fantasy. I’m looking forward to reading the second in her Toch Island Chronicles, Seeking Unseen. I am so pleased to have her on the blog today to talk about the theology in her novels. I don’t think she even winced when I asked her to talk about theology. 😉 So, without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Kat…
What motivates you to write the way you do?
I love this quote: “Fairytales don’t teach children that dragons exist, children already know that dragons are real. Fairytales teach children that dragons can be beaten.” –G.K. Chesterton
Do you consider yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?
I guess I’ll start by describing what I think the difference is. I think an “author of Christian fiction” is someone who writes fiction in which Christianity is a central focus. For the most part, Christian fiction is written with a Christian audience in mind. Some authors of Christian fiction write to reach non-Christians with a gospel message as well.
A “Christian author“ can write Christian fiction. Or they can write fiction that is not specifically Christian. Their faith is personal, and may influence what they write, even as a strong undercurrent, but isn’t necessarily going to reach the surface of their writing—or, it may not be present at all.
Given those options, I would consider myself a “Christian author.” I am a Christian, and I’m an author, and much of my faith does come through in my writing. But very little of my writing is overtly Christian.
I’ve only written a few short stories where I directly reference Christianity or God. I prefer subtlety in my writing. My short stories tend to be allegorical and symbolic, if and when I write a story meant to have an underlying faith meaning. (Sometimes stories are just that, with no “meaning” whatsoever.) Those stories have found homes in both the Christian and secular markets.
My novels are also very subtle. Yes, I’ve purposely alluded to my faith in my novels, with bits of Bible verses woven into narrative. There is a whole scene that was derived from the last chapters of Job. (Not one reader has picked up on that, though!) And I’ve got characters with faith, although I don’t reference what it is exactly. There are hints, though, if you look closely.
How is your theology (what you believe about God) reflected in your writing?
I believe in God as Creator, and there are definitely references to the Creator and Creation in my novels. I also see the world through very scientific eyes as I have a BS in Biology. I’m really interested in science from a Biblical world view vs. science from a secular world view, and in many ways the science with magic vs. science without magic in my novels represents that.
I also believe that God works through our lives and times things in ways that we don’t understand. He also often wants us to play a part in a situation, and then hand the ball to someone else because His intention was for us to grow or accomplish something different than what we originally thought.
Finally, God works directly through us. Our faith allows us to do more than we are capable of on our own. The magic in my novels represents that to me as well—an ability that can’t be explained by our genes.
What is one thing you’d like your readers to know?
That I believe fantasy and fairy tales have a rightful place among Christian fiction and Christian authors. That we’re not occultists or wiccans. That a character’s ability to levitate something is, well, first of all not actually real, and second of all not the same thing as summoning the power of demons.
I don’t mean to sound glib, but we Christian authors of fantasy aren’t doing this haplessly. It’s something we understand, something we have given great thought to, and prayed about. And most of us respect a reader’s decision to abstain from books about fairy tale magic if they so choose.
What are your top 3 favorite books?
Can the Harry Potter series count as one book? 😀 Oh, to be fair, I’ll only pick one of those. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is my favorite of the series.
Another all-time favorite is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
Oh, this is so hard! I want to name classics, like A Wrinkle in Time and The Phantom Tollbooth…and newer books like Incarceron and Neverwhere. And Ender’s Game. And….
Sorry, but I can’t pick just three!
That’s OK, Kat. I would be surprised if you could! 😉 Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. I’m looking forward to reading Seeking Unseen!