I knew pretty much right away that Bound was going to end up being my first real attempt at Christian horror. Making this decision was difficult because if we’re being honest, the vast majority of Christian horror is terrible. If I’m being overly honest, I’ll take it one step further and say most Christian entertainment in general is pretty awful.
This is due to Christian creatives taking the “worldly edge” off of things. The edges can’t be rough and abrasive…they need to be finely polished as not to scratch anyone. This seems to be the Christian creative way of thinking, unfortunately.
That’s not to say that all Christian entertainment is wretched. But in my experience, about 90% of all of the Christian horror I have read has been painful to get through. Of course, this is all work that is categorized as Christian fiction in genre. Because whether the public really understands it, there are tons of Christian-themed horror works out there that are not Christian fiction but still pack a heavy dose of Christian themes and, in some cases, even promotes the name of Christ
Hear me out…
King’s The Stand is absolutely not a Christian novel. Some would say it is one of the ultimate stories of good vs. evil, though. But we can’t look beyond the very thick lines drawn around the fact that Flagg is the representation of Satan and that, in the end, he is destroyed by the literal Hand of God. This, plus the countless religious metaphors within the book make it something of a faith-centered story, much thanks to Frannie’s doubts and Stu’s restrained efforts to trust in Mother Abigail with nothing more than blind faith.
Another example…The Exorcist is not a Christian horror story but a great deal of the Catholic faith is discussed within it. In some respects, it is seen to even cause the demons pain and suffering and we see its response to the name of Christ and the faith (or lack thereof) of the priests performing the rites.
But that’s a whole different discussion.
Bound is something of an exorcism story, but with a twist and from a Christian slant that has the edges still all there, waiting to scratch and maim. As a fairly unapologetic Christian, I have seen Christian entertainment that broaches the darker side of life fail miserably and only offer the simple solution of “I’m no good and I need Jesus.” (Sadly, this is taken almost verbatim from the climax of one of the most popular Christian horror novels out there).
So I wanted to write something dark and pretty brutal that not only explored the darker side of life with a Christian lens, but also a story that laid out the whole good vs. evil perspective with an honest Christian view. That would be the internal thoughts that go through the minds of believers when confronted with evil. It’s not all praying and praising and trusting that Christ will overcome. There are doubts and there is real terror. These are the harsh edges that Christian entertainment looks beyond and ignored completely out of fear of offending fellow Christians.
I’ve already received grief over Bound from one fellow Christian on Facebook…a Christian that has not even read the book and claimed that far too much entertainment “promotes the Enemy.” And while his comment was misguided and overarching, there is some truth to it. The problem, though, is that far too little Christian fiction touches on the real threat of the darker things and instead washes everything in a very general and generic light.
Full disclosure (and the risk of losing some readers): Yes, I believe there is a thing called spiritual warfare and, believer or not, it affects most everyone. Bound is really all about that and was written NOT for only Christians. I wanted to write a Christian horror novel that was horror first and foremost. The Christian themes and some of the faith-based dialogue came next, and only when I was sure that it enriched the story.
Christian fiction or not…the story is what matters when it comes to story-telling. The platform is only the thing upon which the story stands. I respect my readers and know that while most of them don’t share my faith, they respect story-tellers that tell good stories. As such, I will never write a book that beats anyone over the head with scripture or claims that one particular system of beliefs is more grounded than another, as this is one of the huge downfalls of most Christian entertainment.
When all is said and done, Bound is now available and out in the world. I believe it is one of the scariest things I’ve written and am quite proud of it. Would most people classify it as Christian horror? Probably. But the most important question is whether or not it is honest and shows the value I find in telling a story.
And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes.
Pick up your copy of Bound and let me know what you think.