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The Inspirational Element–Guest Columnist Rachel Hauck

Monday, February 11, 2008

Today, I’m pleased to feature a guest column by chick-lit and contemporary-romance author Rachel Hauck!

Thanks to Kaye for inviting me to participate in this discussion of inspirational elements in fiction. I’ve known Kaye for a long time and am so happy for her publishing success!

All writers approach the inspirational element differently. My publisher produces novels from a Christian worldview, meaning it’s assumed Christian values and principles are accepted—that God and salvation through Jesus is a given. However, that doesn’t mean I’m bound to any particular way of writing. The inspirational theme, in my mind, must be true to the story and character.

I develop the spiritual theme after the story. It feels more generic to me that way. Some times I change once the story gets going.

In Sweet Caroline, (Thomas Nelson, Feb 2008) my heroine Caroline started out a Christian. But as I wrote the story, I decided her journey to Jesus had to come as part of the plot. So, in the beginning, she does not know Jesus.

To avoid sounding preachy, I don’t think authors should start with a strong spiritual position or theme. Don’t bring your soap box to the story. Agent Chip MacGreagor calls it, “agenda fiction.”

In Diva NashVegas, my heroine grew up in a Christian home, but fell away from faith after her parents were killed. When the book opens, she’s a country superstar living with her boyfriend.

While I am not a proponent of premarital sex, I felt for this story Aubrey James would not be virginal. Her moral and spiritual compass is whacked based on her life experience.

However, she does return to Jesus and break up with her boyfriend.

Sometimes as Christian authors, we try to show characters how they should live not how people actually do. So, we write about characters who don’t lie or cheat, have sex outside marriage or steal. But Christians make these mistakes all the time.

What we need to show is our characters being convicted and changing.

I like to show how God engages us in different ways. He’s a supernatural God, creative and unique.

Caroline encounters God when she visits a church one Sunday and out of the blue, the pastor calls out her name and says “Jesus loves you.”

Later in the story, Caroline wakes up in the middle of the night with a heavy fragrance in the room. She realizes God is visiting her and has a profound since of awe and holiness. She surrenders her life to Jesus in that moment.

A story’s inspirational theme should be an extension of the author. The author should be an extension of the Great Author, Jesus.

I pray for my characters. I do. If I’m found in Christ, as the Bible says, and my characters are found in me, then my characters are found in Christ. I pray to know what God wants to communicate through the mouth and actions of my characters.

As an author in CBA (Christian Booksellers Association,) I’m trying to boost my spiritual themes however. Not to preach, but because most CBA readers appreciate a strong spiritual theme.

At first, I wrote with a more subdued theme thinking I wanted my books to appeal to non Christian readers as well as Christian. But, my books are shelved in the Christian fiction section, sold at Christian book stores. Customers are expecting a certain theme and message. While they don’t want a sermon, they want to be encouraged and exhorted spiritually.

So, I changed from trying to be stealth, to being bold with a spiritual theme. However, it still must be true to the character and the story.

For aspiring authors in Christian fiction, I encourage them to develop a deep personal relationship with Jesus. He’s the one we want resonating through our stories, not religious traditions and our personal soap boxes.

Write inspirational elements familiar to you. I’m familiar and comfortable with the supernatural so I can write about it with sincerity.

And spiritual themes go beyond salvation. There’s hope, faith, love, forgiveness, giving, or hospitality. As lovers of Jesus, we should all be familiar with aspects of His personality that we can write about in our characters.

Be an author who is a Christian. Not a Christian author. Know that the fragrance of God is on you, therefore on the words you write whether you mention God or Jesus.

Write a true story. All the pieces will fall into place.


Rachel Hauck writes about life, love, and faith. She lives in Florida with her youth-pastor hustand, Tony, applying the truth of her stories to everyday life . . . and getting it right. Rachel has published nine titles including Lambert’s Pride, Lambert’s Code, and Lambert’s Peace for HeartSong Presents and her groundbreaking “redneck” chick lit novels Georgia on Her Mind, Lost in NashVegas, and Diva NashVegas. Her latest release is Sweet Caroline, set in the Carolina low-country.

  1. Monday, February 11, 2008 12:02 pm

    Great interview. Georgia On Her Mind was one of my favorite reads last year particuarly because the spiritual theme, although very evident, was more like a gentle breeze than a crashing wave.

    Rachel, as you strengthen her spiritual themes, I hope you retain the gentleness of your presentation.

    Thanks for a nice interview, ladies!


  2. Monday, February 11, 2008 2:36 pm

    Great post, Rachel! Now I’m looking forward to Sweet Caroline more than ever =)


  3. Monday, February 11, 2008 9:51 pm

    Hey Kaye,

    Thanks for having me. This was fun.

    And Patricia, I am writing the same. I think the change was more mental for me than anything else.

    Thanks for your kind words about Georgia On Her Mind, and Georgiana for Sweet Caroline!

    Hugs, Rachel


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