Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Is Catholic Fiction?: Guest Blog Post by Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian

I am pleased to introduce Karina Fabian. She's an astounding writer and editor. I first "met" her at an online Catholic Writers conference. If you're a writer, she's the person to talk to when you want to learn about world building and also marketing. If you're a book lover, a Catholic, or a science fiction and fantasy geek, she's a writer you need to check out. See her blog for all of her news and book information.

Karina is going to talk about Catholic fiction, but first, I'll tell you about some of her books.

Robert Fabian
Karina's latest non-fiction book is Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life. Just out is her zombie novel, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. But most of all, I'm excited to tell you about the anthology Karina co-edited with her husband, Robert, Infinite Space, Infinite God II.

I think the Infinite Space, Infinite God II media release says it all:
Infinite Space, Infinite God II has twelve science fiction stories that span the gamut of the genre, from time travel to alien abduction, space opera and near-future space exploration stories.  The stories all have one twist in common:  each features a Catholic hero or theme.  Just like with Infinite Space, Infinite God I (known as ISIG), the Fabians had a three-fold requirement:  great sci-fi, great story, and great display of the Catholic faith.  The combination garnered ISIG literary and popular acclaim; it won the EPPIE for best science fiction and was a top ten finalist for best science fiction in the Preditor and Editor polls.

"ISIG and ISIG II look at faith and the future in a unique way," said Karina Fabian.  "Science and faith are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they can work together.  In both volumes, you see wonderful examples of faith informing the moral use of science, and of giving the characters the courage to act upon their convictions.  Both are very positive books--not only about faith and the progress of Man, but of our future in general."

Fabian said that this book differs from its predecessor in that the stories are more hero-centered.  "In ISIG, we were thrilled by the ideas our contributors explored, although the characters were great, too.  Here, however, the conflicts seemed more individual and less issue-oriented."

The Catholic Writers Guild awarded the book the Seal of Approval, signifying that it adheres to Catholic traditions and beliefs.  Fabian said that was important to them because they want religious bookstore owners to feel comfortable stocking it.  "Catholics generally go to secular bookstores for their entertainment, but ISIG and ISIG II make wonderful and unique gifts, especially for Christmas or Confirmation." 

Wow, way cool! I love a book that meshes Catholic values and science fiction. Woo-hoo!!!

Here is how to get this book:
From Publisher:

So, now I'll step aside and allow Karina Fabian to tell us about Catholic Fiction.


What is Catholic fiction?  This is a question we've bounced around in several of my Catholic writer's groups, and the answer is never quite the same. 
I think everyone can agree that just because a book has Catholic "trappings," it does not have to be a considered a Catholic novel.  Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is a good example. For a story to be Catholic, then, it has to at least treat Catholicism positively.
For some writers, any book that supports our Catholic beliefs is Catholic, even if it doesn't have the "dressings" or a rosary, a cathedral, a Mass…  Michelle Buckman, a best-selling author in the secular, Christian and Catholic fiction markets, considers her works Catholic in this way.  You will find the ideals of pro-life, reverence, and faithful devotion and even the ideas of Confession.  However, to be acceptable to secular and Christian publishers, she had to remove the physical expressions of those ideals.  However, her two most recent books, Rachel's Contrition and Death Panels, are very strongly Catholic.  The wonderful irony is, people feel "safe" enough with her other stories, that they took a chance on Rachel's Contrition and made it an Amazon Best Seller in women's fiction.
For my husband, Rob, and me, the definition of Catholic fiction is a little narrower.  We think Catholic fiction must both support and express Catholic beliefs materially.  This is the approach we took with Infinite Space, Infinite God I and II.  You'll find Catholic characters and situations, the Church as an active entity, and faith as a force for good.  If you took the Catholic elements out, you would lose a vital part of the stories.
One thing we think is NOT a requirement is that the story preach Catholic beliefs.  This is a stickler for Rob and me, because we get very annoyed at stories that are more about the message than the characters or plot (even when we agree with the message).  In some ways, we think this sets Catholic fiction apart from a lot of Christian fiction--many Christian books are about the message.  This really, however, is more about the purpose of fiction.  Fiction tells a story, and the message or moral should come out naturally in the story.  If you have to lecture (even by having your characters lecture out loud or in thoughts) or you have to make your characters do things that are out of their character in order to put them in a situation that delivers your message, then you've sacrificed your fiction to message.  Write an essay, make an addendum, but give us the story and let the message shine through--or not--on its own.
The definition of Catholic fiction is going to vary by publisher, writer and reader.  Personally, I don't think it should matter overmuch.  Fiction is about the story, and as a writer, I should not be concerned with whether my story is "Catholic" per se.  I should be concerned with telling the best story ever--whether it takes place in the Confessional or in the back booth of a bar.  As a reader, I want to be entertained, and if there's a message to be found, let it come to me in the poignant moment of the hero's tale and not in the fancy monologue he makes to the villain.

Wow, I think that was a great explanation. I'm honored to have you here, Karina. Thank you so much.

And don't forget to check out Infinite Space, Infinite God II edited by Karina and Robert Fabian.


  1. You are welcome, Karina. It was my pleasure! :)

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog.
    Very interesting and I have now become a follower.
    Hopefully you will get a lot out of mine also.
    God Bless, Bob

  3. Why thank you, Bob. I'm on my way over to your blog right now. :)