The Writers We Can't Do Without
by Niki Turner
My kids all had blankies when they were small. Those bedraggled bits of fabric went everywhere with us for years, offering my little ones comfort and security and a soft place to rest a weary head.
|Luke. The blanket survived. The |
sock monkey has disappeared.
A new book by a favorite author has the same effect on me. Once that book is in my possession, even before I've tucked myself away for uninterrupted reading time and thumbed through the pages to chapter one, I have the same sense of security an addict has when their secret stash is fully stocked. A blissful escape from reality awaits...
The first of my comfort authors, whose books I devoured one right after the other as if they were jelly beans, was Jude Deveraux. From Highland Velvet to A Knight In Shining Armor, I loved the romance, the characters, the strong heroes and likeable heroines.
When I came to Christ, He asked me to lay aside my fiction addiction for a season. It was a long season - ten years, to be exact. Ten years of taking children to the library and roaming coffee-scented bookstores without picking up any fiction for myself. Instead, I read my Bible. I read Christian non-fiction and devotionals. And I'm thankful for those years, because that season of sowing the word into my heart produced a foundation for my faith I couldn't have found in my fiction selection.
When I had a release to return to fiction, I began a quest for Christian fiction that would create that same kind of escape, the same rush of blood through my veins, the same overwhelming need to keep reading long past bedtime. I stumbled painfully through Grace Livingston Hill like a child first learning how to read. And then I picked up the first of Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series. Ah. THIS was more like it.
But, this was before the Internet, and our small hometown Christian bookstore was sorely limited in its supply. It would be a few more years before a friend handed me a copy of Redeeming Love. I read it all in one night, alternately laughing and sobbing.
Lori Wick's books came next. Like a starving woman, I ran through everything I could find. (The Princess remains one of my favorites.) Since then, I've soaked up Frank Peretti's imagery of the interaction between the spiritual realm and the natural realm, chewed through second-hand boxes crammed with Steeple Hill and Barbour category romances, lost myself in Russian history with Susan May Warren, explored the beaches and coves of Hawaii with Colleen Coble, and thrilled to M.L. Tyndall's pirates and Dee Henderson's contemporary romantic suspense.
But Kristen Heitzmann is my "go-to" Christian author of choice. Her books are among those that aren't given away, aren't passed on to the church library. No matter the genre, the setting, or the theme, I'm guaranteed the peculiar satisfaction that comes from getting "lost" in the story, identifying with the characters, becoming engrossed in the turns and twists of the plot, and sighing contentedly at the book's close. It's almost intangible. Trying to explain it is like asking a three-year-old to explain why his or her blankie is different from every other piece of fabric in the house.
It's what we seek as readers. And what we dream of accomplishing as writers.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
What sets their work apart for you? Can you define it?