If you missed it, here's a selection of interactions from the chat. ("RD" stands for "Rev. Philip Davies", "StS" for "Stephan Sigg".)
Q: How easy/difficult is it to break into Christian writing?
RD: It's always difficult to break into any market for writing. We just have to try to be very good!
StS: And you need a little luck!
Q: Do you actively communicate a Christian message in your fiction?
RD: My first priority is to tell a good story. I write from a Christian worldview, but that's not evangelising.
StS: It's also important to love people and the world – you have to have an optimistic point of view!
RD: There's a bigger market in the US than the UK. Lion Fiction is an imprint for novels, many of them written by Christians.
Q: Is there a market for crossover fiction meeting the needs of both Christian and secular readers?
StS: Yes there is! And I think it is growing!
RD: Yes, yes, YES! I think that's where Christians have to be: writing stories about humanity (Christian or not).
Q: What would you say is the most popular genre within Christian fiction?
StS: Difficult to say. In Germany/Switzerland, non-fiction is the most popular one.
RD: Popular genres in the US seem to be romance and the conversion narrative. Everything has a redemption theme.
Q: Is your faith part of your motivation to write?
StS: Yes, it is! But I want to write for everyone – not only for Christian readers.
RD: I've always been a communicator, and faith is part of who I am. I share who I am, spoken & written.
StS: What's the situation in GB? Is there a special community for Christian writers?
RD: We have the Association of Christian Writers (800 members), of which I'm UK Chair.
StS: WOW! That's a BIG community. We don't really have one of those in Switzerland/Germany. But we're connected with secular writers - e.g. AUTILLUS www.autillus.ch
Q: Stephan, You also write stories for children to raise awareness of ecological themes. How tightly is that linked to Christianity?
StS: For me it's the centre of Christian faith :-) It's all about humanity and responsibility.
Q: Philip, your YA novel from a Christian perspective will be out soon. What's its basic theme?
RD: What choices do we have for our lives, or is there a destiny, fate or God's will dictating to us?
Q: Fiction is often an epic struggle between good and evil. Do you think good should (fictionally) always win?
RD: I'm a happy ever after person. So yes, the world has enough tragedy, and I want to be inspired for good.
Q: Do you see any basic difference between writing for Christian markets or secular ones?
StS: No, for me, there are no differences.
RD: We should always be ourselves and truthful, and respect our readers. So not much difference.
Q: Which Christian topics are most popular with readers? Where are the best opportunities for writers in this genre?
RD: Difficult question. I'd turn it around. What do you want to write? I'd do that, rather than chasing the market.
StS: Exactly. "Chasing the market" should never be the first motivation.
Q (continued): No, but when sales are virtually non-existent on what I wanted to write, it's worth
StS: You're right! Before writing any book, you have to make a decision: What is my goal?
Sometimes, I write a book knowing it won't be a big success. But I write it anyway because I love the subject or because it's important to me to write. "Emmas Schokoladen" (Emma's
Chocolate Shop) was such a book! :-) And then, I won an important award for it.
Q: How did you begin writing?
StS: I began very early – in primary school. First, I wrote poems and crime stories. Some years later, as a student of theology, I realised that writing & theology are a good combination.
RD: I had a dream, a story idea. I wanted to read it as a book, so I had to write it first!
Q: What are the benefits for writers of joining an organisation, such as ACW?
RD: FELLOWSHIP! Knowing we're not alone, to share joys, sorrows, tips, contacts, frustrations and successes.
Thank you to both our guests for a lively chat and to Karin Backmann for moderating the conversation.We're looking forward to meeting you for our next #AskSwanwick on 13 May, 8pm UK time (3pm EST), with New York agent @johnmcusick, who represents picture books, middle-grade and YA novels.
Whether you actively ask questions or are a simple "bystander", you're very welcome to join. You can find an easy how-to-guide here: http://www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk/twitter-chat.html
By the way, don't forget to connect to fellow Swanwickers about this year’s Summer School by using the hashtag #Swanwick67.
See you in May, then.
The Tweet Team (Benjamin, Karin, Andrew and Mike)