What exactly is a "Christian author"? I think it's a fair question, considering the countless times I've been asked (challenged? demanded?) to identify myself as such. If I might generalize for a moment, in the minds of most churchgoers I believe a Christian author is one who 1) publishes exclusively with a Christian press, 2) writes exclusively for a Christian audience, and 3) focuses on themes which are specifically, and overtly, Christian or biblical in nature.
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According to the above definition, I am definitely not ranked among the chosen. Mind you, God himself has never set limits on how I respond to the call to be salt and light in the world. He only cares that I am. But that is a rant for another day. For now, let me address the issue of my identity as an author.
I am both a Christian and an author, and the two identities are not mutually exclusive. As a believer, Christianity is the grid through which I view and comment on the world. That being the case, in all of my books the presence of God is assumed, faith is frequently a factor, and issues of morality and character are woven into my stories, to varying degrees.
There are, of course, those of my books in which the themes are more overtly Christian, and in which the Bible itself is front and center. This is true of the picture book Voices of Christmas, as well as the novels Dark Sons and A Girl Named Mister. Story is key, though. The elements of faith must grow organically from the story, rather than be superimposed as an overlay that calls attention to itself. In other words, I am a storyteller, not a theologian. My first job is to tell a good story. Whenever there are natural opportunities to weave in elements of faith, I do so. And, as it happens, there are almost always opportunities!
Fine, you say. But what about stories in which your character never graces the door of a church? Even there, my faith is somehow reflected in the story, if only by virtue of the light that shines through it. How could it be otherwise? Every time I put pen to paper, whether my subject is a ferocious feline, a fatherless boy, or a little girl grappling with being in foster care, I always write out of a sense of call.
Here's the bottom line: whether my work—written for allchildren and young adults—is published by a secular publisher, or a Christian one, I always write as an ambassador of Christ. And isn't that what we are all called to be, no matter our profession?
About the Book
A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes, (ISBN: 0310720788, $15.99, hardcover, Young Adult Fiction). Bestselling author Nikki Grimes presents the story of Mister, a teenage girl who honestly and poignantly tells her story of temptation and teenage pregnancy through free verse.
About the Author
Nikki Grimes is the prolific and award-winning author of more than fifty books. A Coretta Scott King Award winner and recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry, many of her titles have been cited as Notable Books by the American Library Association. She is renowned for her use of poetry to tell a cohesive story, for her insightful writing, and for her ability to connect with her readers.