The Idea Behind A Novel Idea

By John Maust

Less than a year ago, I met author
Robin Gunn at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for the drive to a nearby retreat center for MAI’s Board meetings. Despite a short night after visiting author friend Angela Hunt, Robin wasn’t thinking about sleep.
She wanted to share an idea that had emerged when she and Angela brainstormed ways to help international Christian writers--many of whom cannot afford to attend writer’s conferences or obtain the kind of resources many American writers do.
“Before we knew it, we were thinking about asking some of our writing pals to contribute an article to a 'how-to' book for writers,” Angela recalled later in her blog. Proceeds from sales of the book would benefit international Christian writers.
A lot has happened in the last 11 months.
Tyndale House Publishers
has announced the November 1 release of A Novel Idea, a 250-page book offering “everything you need to know” about writing inspirational fiction.  “This valuable guide contains tips on how to plan, craft, and market a novel,” the advance publicity reads.
Contributors include top Christian fiction authors Jerry Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers and Randy Alcorn, to name a few.
Not only will the book provide valuable counsel for aspiring novelists, it will offer tangible aid to writers in hard places of the world. “All proceeds will benefit MAI, an international organization whose goal is to help fledgling writers and publishers produce Christian literature that is culturally relevant,” Tyndale notes. 
MAI co-founder, the late James L. Johnson, would have been pleased. When few Christian writers were thinking about fiction, Jim wrote Code Name Sebastian (Zondervan 1967), the first of six novels in the Sebastian series, featuring a struggling minister who is unwittingly drawn into international spy intrigues. 
Jim recognized the power of story to communicate spiritual truth. He invested much of his life in building up the church worldwide through assisting its writers and publishers. Robin and Angela share Jim’s same passions, and that is how they arrived at such a “novel idea” for a book by that name.

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First printed in Inside MAI, July-August 2009.