Christian Author, or Author who is a Christian? Balancing faith and fiction

As I draw near the publication of Seregn, I’ve been reflecting on how my faith works into my writing. It’s an interesting discussion, and dives into the purpose of story, and what readers look for in a tale. In fact, I’ve been pondering this right from the first draft/editing phase.

When it came to Seregn there was a very fine line that I felt I had to walk, or rather, that I wanted to walk.

Ever since the first draft of Seregn, there’s been a struggle between whether I consider myself to be a ‘Christian author’ writing Christian books with a Christian story, or whether I am an author who is also a Christian, whose faith and worldview obviously influence and infuse my stories, but aren’t necessarily transferred into my books to make them overtly Christian tales.

That might seem like a strange line to walk.

‘Why not Brooke, why not proudly proclaim your faith? Why not write a straight up ‘Christian book’?’

Well, striking that balance mentioned above is an important thing, and I’ll explain why.

If you’re a Christian author writing Christian books, you’re predominantly focussing on a Christian market. Other secular audiences—or audiences of other faiths—might find those books, but they’re less likely to enjoy them or to recommend them or to follow your writing career, because you’re presenting an overt, unmistakeable Christian message.

If that’s a key point in the book’s story, regardless of the genre, those audiences will probably be turned off by it. It will be too ‘in their face’. In doing so, you’re likely failing to engage the very readers you’re trying to reach.

(A caveat here, of course, if you’re writing for a Christian market then, by all means, have it front and centre!

Think of something like The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s such a beautiful classic, it’s still beloved, but if it was written today it would probably be slammed as overt Christian propaganda. I know I’ve heard modern readers direct derision its way for its Christian allegory.

All of this is sad, but it’s certainly understandable: Aslan is a 1-to-1 parallel to Jesus, Edmund is a 1-to-1 parallel to sinners, the stone table is a 1-to-1 parallel to Christ on the cross. Again, it’s a powerful, beautiful story, and it’s also overtly Christian. Non-Christian audiences, even if they enjoyed it as a child, may often find it distasteful as an adult. That is, of course, if they even read in the first place.

So, it’s tricky.

While I want to tell a story audiences of all faiths and beliefs can enjoy, at the same time, I feel compelled that my world be infused with a Christian worldview, that my story bring glory to God.

I feel like I’m walking this line between having a story that is infused with my faith, but not shoving it in people’s faces, and not trying to be deceptive either. I don’t want to trick people into reading my book, or into accepting a Christian perspective. What I do want is to tell a good story, and leave readers with something to feel and questions to ponder.

So, with Seregn, I felt that it was less about trying to present an overt Christian message, and more about trying to present a world that is inherently infused with that faith, but not make it the focus or the key point of the story.

As Seregn evolved and as I edited the draft, I—almost unintentionally—added one or two more obvious Christian ideas. These changes came about largely from a story perspective as I improved the manuscript, but also as a result of my own pondering on the novel. Overall I think it works well, because those moments of more inherent Christian concepts are just one part of a much bigger story, which is focussed more on the character’s struggles.

And this, I think, is where people really connect, because the story isn’t about becoming a Christian (or the fantasy equivalent in their world). The story is about sacrifice. It’s about what it is to love another person. It questions how far you would—or should—go to sacrifice for another, and what happens when you do? It brings up whether there’s a point where sacrifice becomes too much, or not worth it. Or, are there times when you shouldn’t be the hero, because of other considerations? What is it to go against something that you know to be true, and then face the consequences of that? When do people struggling with each other over different concepts of what it is to be good, actually discover one (or more) of them have actually fallen into evil?

These are all questions that come up in Seregn, and they’re not answered easily. Characters live them out, and we see the consequences of various choices they make.

So I think the biggest thing with Seregn for me was crafting a story that Christians could still find accessible, still find enjoyable, still find in some way to be true and faithful, but also not make it so clean and whitewashed and pristine that they very people I was trying to reach with these kind of questions would be turned off by it.

Essentially, I just want to ensure the story I’m trying to tell is the kind of story that people want to hear—especially those who may not come from the same faith as I do.

And as a side note, that also means that the characters aren’t perfect.

Of course, I don’t put excessive, gratuitous swearing, or sex, or violence in my stories just to get secular attention. But yes, Seregn has some deeply violent moments. Why? Because the world is a violent place. Because the characters are pushed to breaking point. There also isn’t outright, overt, strong swearing in Seregn, but there are a couple of times where the main character uses what could be considered a swear word, something like ‘damn’, ‘damn it’, or ‘bloody hell’.

Why? Because my main character is never presented as a Christian. She’s not a foul-mouth, but she’s not perfect either. The man of faith in the novel doesn’t say such things of course, but I don’t comment on that, it’s never brought up. It’s just part of the way he talks, or rather, doesn’t talk. It’s subtle, because that’s all that is required.

And even though he has clean speech, he’s not perfect either. In fact, he makes some pretty gargantuan mistakes.

We aren’t perfect, none of us, and it’s important we remember that in our fiction too.

So these are my thoughts, swirling as Seregn’s publication steps closer and closer. Having professional editors read and enjoy my work is massively helpful, including the structural editor advising that, in his professional opinion, the story can absolutely be marketed to more than just the Christians, as there’s only a small amount of Christian-related content. That in itself gives me hope that I’ve struck a good midpoint.

This is a long post, so I’ll cap it here. I’m sure as I think about this more, more ideas will surface. For now, let me know – how do you consider faith/belief systems and your fiction?

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A beginner’s thoughts on book formatting

So, Seregn is up to the book formatting stage. How exciting!


Ok, I admit it. At first glance, ‘formatting’ doesn’t exactly sound like something to be excited about.

If you are like me, when you first thought about formatting, you probably brushed it off as the kind of boring work necessary to get your book out into the world, but not exactly something to knock your socks off.

Well, I was wrong!

There’s actually a lot that goes into book formatting, and as I’ve just peeked through the window, I’ve felt the anticipation rise all the more.

After confirming with my publisher we were ready to start looking at the formatting stage, I got an email from my publishing coordinator, the lovely Sarah.

She asked me to flip through some of the books on my own bookshelf, and have a look to see what I do and don’t like.

And… I learned a lot!

So, I thought I’d talk about it. Here are seven books from my bookshelf – each with a combination of major and/or minor formatting differences between them.

Mistborn: The Hero of Ages

As much as I love the story of The Hero of Ages, the formatting is definitely not my favourite.

What I see here is quite thick, comparatively bold text taking up a lot of the page.

The boldness of the words seems heavy, yet the lines of text are quite close together. To me, this makes the text, and therefore my image of the story, seem quite dense. Perhaps that’s a strange way to put it, but for me how a page looks really can influence the feel of a story.

In addition, this book is quite unusual, in that it does not start new chapters on new pages. Instead, they run along one right after the other.

I much rather have a sense of finality when I finish a chapter.

So overall, I’m not a big fan of this formatting. It just seems a bit to thick and clunky for me, or at least, for Seregn. However, there’s another Brandon Sanderson book below, that is (in my humble opinion) far better.

House of Dark Shadows

Talk about contrast right! House of Dark Shadows is a YA sci-fi thriller, and to me, the formatting reflects this. Rather than the thick, tightly packed text of the chunky fantasy Hero of Ages, the font is thinner, the margins wider, and there’s more white space on the page.

The lines of text are farther apart, too. Practically, this means there’s less text on a page, and you fly through the pages faster – giving a sense of speed and urgency that lends itself well to this kind of fast-paced story. It’s so fast paced, in fact, that it’s chapters are noted down to the day and hour and minute, to help you keep track of everything happening.

This kind of formatting is also perhaps a bit easier and more accessible for younger readers, who might be turned off by the kind of dense text you see in some of the other books I’m comparing.

Overall, for me, there’s a bit too much space, I’d like Seregn to be a little more dense, but not at Hero of Ages level.

I really like the font here, it almost has a kind of pretty feel to it. I also like the chapter is spelled out, rather than just a number.

Now, onwards!

Kings Folly

The first thing that strikes me about this page is how different the text looks to the others.

The font is entirely different.

It’s more… geometric? Rounded? Compact? Something, anyway, about it is different, and I much prefer the other two.

Looking at it more as I write this, I think it’s the serif. It’s more pronounced in the other fonts. What’s a serif? It’s the little bits that stick out of letters in some fonts. The font I’m typing in now is sans serif – no serifs. Something like Times New Roman is definitely a serif font. This one, it is a serif, there are those little bits sticking out, but they’re far less pronounced.

Yes, I think that’s a big part of it.

The text is, again, also closer in this one; there’s less space between the lines. It’s a bit denser as a result, and the nature of the font makes it seem more so, I think. Again, not quite what I’m after for Seregn.

Overall, this is another one I’m not a huge fan of.


I love this book. I love the story. And, I quite like the formatting, actually. The font, font size, and line spaces are all really nice. The couple of things I would tweak are the margins (I’d make them a bit wider) and have the chapter start a little lower on the page. It just looks… nice. Like there’s plenty of story on the page, but it can… breathe a little bit? It’s not too squished or dense – which works well, because it is actually a fairly dense, long story.

Once again, I enjoy when chapter numbers are spelled out like this, rather than the numeral, too. The start of the text is just so high on the page for the start of the chapter, it feels, to me, a little off.

Overall, the formatting here makes it seem like there’s plenty of story, but it’s not too hefty, smooshed together, or dense; but neither is it too light and easy. I guess, it’s comfortable, a bit of a Goldilocks zone.

Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive)

This one is pretty close to perfect, I think. The font? Great! The space between lines? Spot on! The margins? Comfortable! The distance down the page the new chapter actually starts? Chef’s kiss.

For Seregn, there’s no way I’m going to have such an elaborate chapter heading graphic, though. It’s beautiful, and I love it in the context of Roshar; however, for Seregn, it doesn’t feel quite right. If I get a chapter graphic, I’d want it to be something fairly simple, light, but indicative of the story. I have My ideas on that, but I’ll keep them to myself for now.

And, although the chapters are written out in numeral form, I also love that author Brandon Sanderson has given his chapters titles. But more on that a little later.

The cool thing about this book is that it’s roughly the same size (i.e. dimensions) as Seregn will be, so I get a bit of an indication of what it will really look like too!

The Name of the Wind

Once more, font, and sizing are perfect. The margins I’d make a little wider.

The main thing that is interesting about this one is the chapter number is spelled out AND the chapter name is there too. I love this, I’d like to replicate it with Seregn. I’m not sure why I don’t like the numerals. It makes sense, but writing out the numbers just seems so much nicer to look at and read. Is anyonoe else like this?

Fun fact: originally I didn’t name Seregn’s chapters, they were just numbered (with the numbers written out. It was a last minute change of mind before I sent it to my editors to add the chapter titles. I think I was inspired by the likes of The Lord of the Rings to name them. I thought it was a bit of fun, gave a bit more flair, and also (in hindsight) also helps future readers find a part of the book again, because it’s easier to remember which chapter it was in when the chapter names themselves give a prompt.

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this one, except that overall, I like it!

The Wolf of Tebron

This is one of my favourite books of all time. I simply adore it, so much so that we named the family dog after one of the main characters, Ruyah.

This novel is also about the same dimensions as Seregn will be, so it’s particularly interesting to compare this one with Rhythm of War. The font size here is bigger, which makes sense, as it’s aimed at both children and adults, and makes it a little more accessible for younger readers. The font is a nice serif font, and I think the margins and spacing are pretty spot on.

I love how they’ve done a bit of a fancy font for the chapter (which is also written out).

This one almost feels like the easier, or lite, version of Rhythm of War or The Name of the Wind in that it’s very similar, but the formatting is just, seemingly, adjusted for a slightly younger audience.

It works really well too. The story is all about a long, lonely journey into the wilderness. Having plenty of white space on the page with the margins and spacing I think lends itself to the sense of space, of wilderness, of emptiness, the story conjures.

So! These are my initial, unschooled, thoughts on what makes good formatting. I haven’t spoken about a lot, because I don’t know a great deal. But! I definitely enjoyed – and found it super interesting – to sit down and go through books, paying no attention to the story, to look at purely the visual side to their construction.

What do you think?

What’s your favourite from those pictured? What’s your opinion on book formatting?

Let me know!

And, as always, as Seregn gets closer to publication, you can join my mailing list to stay up to date on all the excitement!

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A snippet of adventure – our holiday

2622 miles (or 4220ish) kilometres and… we’re home!

It’s been a while, so I’m making up with it with a nice big blog today – and a few photos too. So, want to hear about our awesome, inspiring adventure? Read on!

Day one was mostly just driving. We left our home of Toowoomba and over the course of the next 7ish hours passed through our little patch of Queensland and the first third (roughly) of New South Wales. We flashed by cotton fields flung out for miles, the white product littered along the roadside. The landscape was flat and open, though slowly but surely the trees crept in.

As the sky faded we arrived at our little motor inn, before setting off for an observatory.


Coonabarabran is essentially the star gazing capital of Australia. Deep in the centre of NSW, there’s next to no light pollution, and the skies are usually clear (except for this rainy year!). The conditions of the night too were perfect, exceptional, for gazing. No clouds, not even the moon to drown out the fainter stars with it’s unparalleled glow. So we sat in the darkness around a couple of telescopes with a group of others, as a man who reminded me of a Tolkienian elf – blonde hair long and blue eyes bright – regaled us with tales of the stars, galaxies, nebulae, and gave us the opportunity to gaze at them.

I loved it.

The next day we were off on by far, the longest car journey I’d ever undertaken. We left at 4am, and arrived at our destination about 6pm. The morning started dark, though after a couple of hours the sky lightened to reveal a glorious pastel morning, mist thick across the gentle rolling hills spotted with cattle. Frost lay heavy on the grass, like the most delicate blanket you ever did see. Eventually the day drew long, as we traversed the entirety of NSW remaining, and zoomed deep into Victoria, to a town less than two hours from Melbourne, Newborough. We were staying at a cute, homely cottage, but the first step was to get there. Gabe had driven the whole first day and, with the exception of a few hours, did the same. I mostly watched out the window as the landscape changed, growing more hilly, more green. Through the long day we listened to music, podcasts, audiobooks, but finally we reached our destination. It was beautiful, fireplace ready to be lit, warm, cosy, a loft with a vaulted ceiling. We grabbed some pizza, and crashed.

The road through New South Wales.
Our little cottage!

We spent the next day there too. It was cold, wet, and we were both pretty exhausted. So the fire was lit, books were cracked open, washing was done, groceries were bought, coffee was sipped, and we generally just kinda hung out!

But then, another big drive – the Great Ocean Road, and the Twelve Apostles.

The Great Ocean Road follows part of the coastline west of Melbourne, from Torquay to Allansford, about 240km long (according to Google). We skirted Melbourne, and then, we saw Beauty. Rugged hills, rocky outcroppings, deep blue water crashing gently into the shoreline, coastal towns by the water. It was overcast, and the thick grey clouds gave it all a moody presence. Then, God’s blessing, a rainbow appeared, poking up from the land to cast itself over the waters. We watched as it grew to full-size, strengthening in vibrancy until it filled your vision. We gaped and gasped in awe at this gift, and felt as if somehow we drove through one end of it, and then it was gone.

We drove on, stopping for lunch at the southernmost pub on the mainland. Onwards for sometime longer, and we arrived at Gibson Steps, and then, the Twelve Apostles. It was astonishing. It was cold, the wind sharp, but we ventured out, first Gibson Steps – descending steep steps in the side of the cliff to take in a gloriously sandy beach, cliffs high about us. The turquoise water crashed in with presence and strength, and we laughed and sighed and took it all in with wide eyes. Then the Twelve Apostles, a high lookout with a vast landscape beyond, the remaining rock formations prominent in your vision.

The view in one direction from the beach at Gibson Steps.
The Twelve Apostles!
Us at the Twelve Apostles!

A beautiful drive through scenic farmland both amid the hills and the valleys followed, before a stop at Airey’s Inlet for the night. A rainy trip to the next town for dinner followed, before a beautiful sleep with a view of the sea.

The next day, Thursday, was a big one. We left early for Melbourne, to take a peek at the Fox Classic Car Collection – a particular treat for Gabe. A selection of 56 cars from Lindsay Fox’s private collection on show in all their glory in a stunning old Melbourne warehouse constructed in the 1800s.

What a location! They were gleaming – old classics right up to snazzy new, powerful engines. My wonderful husband was a little like an (albeit subdued) kid at a candy store. What followed was a delicious lunch at a nearby cafe, some exploration of the city, a stop at the National Gallery, and bookshop hunting, before dinner and the drive back to our little cottage.

One (of many) pictures from the Fox Classic Car Museum!
The National Gallery of Victoria
The Paperback Books in Melbourne.
Gabriel looking handsome in Melbourne.

Friday was a day of rest for us, Gabe had bought a couple of books (the first he’d bought ‘just because’ for himself – ever!) and we were both keen to sit by the fire and read. After some struggling we had a delectable fire, and enjoyed a relaxing day. We explored the property a bit, finding little trails and a lovely pond – lilypads and all.

Saturday we set off again, this time to Tooma. A teeny tiny little town amidst some of the most gorgeous country I’ve seen. Lush green hills, cattle and sheep grazing everywhere, and our accommodation a delightful house built in the 1800s. We went for a walk to the top of a hill, taking in the scenery in the late afternoon, watching the sunset, listening to the stream gurgle beneath the bridge. A stop at the pub for dinner followed, then a warm bed, waking up to a red sunrise, a chat with the house owner over breakfast, and we were off again. We traversed the way back to Coonabarabran, and then home.

Exploring the property on which our little cottage was set.
Gabe reading by the fire.
A Tooma sunset.
Tooma <3

What a journey.

That’s the short version. And, if you’re interested, I’ll happily go into more detail in coming weeks. For now though, I’m home, the copy edit of Seregn is days (if not maybe even hours!) away, and I’m so keen to get stuck in!

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