“Lord preserve us from facile, saccharine overloaded writing that fails to identify with the harsh realities of the human condition,” pleaded Nick.
“For Goodness sakes. Life is far more interesting and far more complex than that. It’s full of doubts and misgivings.”
With Christianity retreating from the marketplace I’m swimming around like a shark in muddy water, looking for another way to reach people with a possibility of God.
These are reasons why author Nick Hawkes writes novels for Christians and non-Christians alike.
But first a backgrounder.
It’s not uncommon for Christians to journal their Bible readings and write down their thoughts. These can be in a study form that completes the 66 books of the Bible over an annual period.
Others may write or journal the Scriptures spasmodically to suit their own agendas or when they feel the need to write.
Christian fiction thrillers?
Perhaps not as common would be Christians who have the talent and skills to write fiction stories. (The likes of C.S. Lewis was a master of both non-fiction and fiction and more recently Frank Peretti whose Christian fiction novels focus on the supernatural.)
So, where do you place a Christian author who occupies a territory in which he or she creates stories for books that would be classified as fiction romance thrillers?
With Two degrees in both science and theology, one such author is Dr Nick Hawkes.
Nick has been a scientist, a theologian and a pastor. Now he’s an author writing romantic thrillers that feed the heart, mind and soul.
‘The Celtic Stone’
‘Celtic Stone’, Nick’s first novel, won the Australian Caleb Award in 2014. And in that same year another of his books, ‘Key Issues’ won the Selah Award in America.
The question put to Nick, is why write fiction novels when he’s an accomplished writer of Biblical apologetics, Bible studies and resources, and has covered topics such as leadership?
“I was struggling to find books I could really enjoy,” said Nick.
“So many people are busy so I needed a page turner but something that was also heart-warming and clever.”
Another prerequisite for Nick was that his books have something to say. This was crucial to justifying the stories adventures.
“I also wanted to be able to put the case to whisper the possibility of God to people who read the novels….”
“…and they being the sort of books I could give to my non-Christian mates and know they would enjoy them and be surprised by the possibility of God along the way.” This was, and is the purpose of Nick’s fictional endeavours.
‘There’s a romantic streak in all fellas’
Perhaps the description of a romantic thriller can mean many things to many people. What a woman seeks after in this genre may be different to what captures a man in this category.
One statistic Nick wasn’t buying was the opinion that three-quarters of the reading world is considered to be feminine.
I’m romantic,” Nick confessed, “and there’s a romantic streak in all fellas.
He also made it clear his books are not tarred with the soapy Mills and Boon romance brush.
“But there’s always a story. There’s always a love thing going on in there – usually a hero or a heroine or the other way around.”
‘Love – the greatest motivating story’
“It’s timeless really. Everybody loves a good love story as well as an unlikely hero doing extraordinary things usually at some cost to themselves.”
Nick connected love to the story of mankind saying a novel without love is missing something.
Love is part of our story, it’s the human story, it’s the greatest motivating story around.
“Therefore to have a story without a love story of some sort, a love tension, I think is being pretty bleak. There is a love story in there no doubt about it and I enjoy it quite honestly.”
But in support of the need for Christian fictional novels of the romantic thriller kind, Nick wanted to bring Jesus into the conversation.
‘Wandering, climbing, chatting’
Jesus spent so much of his time wandering alongside lakes, climbing up the mountains, chatting to his disciples in fields.
“And Jesus brought God’s spirituality and faith into the marketplace, where people were.”
Then to today’s secularised humanistic society with Christianity retreating from the marketplace I’m swimming around like a shark in muddy water, looking for another way to reach people with a possibility of God.”
Another compelling reason for Nick to write novels for non-Christians; it’s an undertaking that’s not often done terribly well.
“Christians can end up preaching in their books to the extent that it turns off their non-Christian mates.”
‘I’ve read some shockers’
“And others tip-toe so carefully around the Gospel you never actually hear it,” Nick informed, saying there’s an art to inserting just the right amount of Gospel into a story.
There in the normal narrative of the story, Nick sees the novel’s need for the Gospel to be addressed. Is it shallow or does it go deeper?
Picking the right amount of Gospel is actually very tricky.
“I always try and let the story unfold just in the normal narrative and usually in the context of the hero overcoming some form of brokenness, whether it’s shame or whether it’s grief.”
“At some depth actually,” Nick shared. “But you never realise it because you’re caught up in the action that just flows naturally in the dialogue.”
“Usually a lot of that wisdom comes from the dialogue of a mentor figure who is usually present in some form in these novels.”
Sickly sweet and too innocent
For writers of good quality fictional romantic thrillers things might need to get grubby. After all, in today’s broken, fallen world, a hero who’s squeaky clean and without flaws and faults, may not relate to the reality. Is that the reality?
Sickly sweet and too innocent? This is not the world we find ourselves in and if you’re a writer these sorts of characters are not going to make the cut. So, no second guesses as to how author Nick Hawkes sees it.
Lord, preserve us from facile, saccharine overloaded writing that fails to identify with the harsh realities of the human condition.
“For Goodness sakes. Life is far more interesting and far more complex than that. It’s full of doubts and misgivings,” exhorted Nick with a dash of exasperation.
“If we just produce Christian pap that doesn’t really address the real angst and questions that normal people have I think we’ve failed them.”
“It can also be quite dangerous,” warned Nick, and perhaps suggesting people who read Christianese worded books are more likely to be those who won’t relate the stories with their own experiences of God.
‘My heroes have major flaws’
“True faith is developing a faith that’s strong enough to withstand the loss of faith. So, let’s explore that a little bit.”
So my heroes always have some major flaw but they tentatively step toward the possibility of God…
“…usually because of the wisdom of the mentor who is addressing the angst of the soul.”
Nick described one of his novels heroes who’s a pilot about to get his commercial flying licence.
“He crashes a plane in the Australian desert and rescued by an Australian aborigine. And he’s blinded so he can never fly and how can he cope with that?”
‘Non-saccharine, non-facile situations’
Then, along come the mentors in Nick’s novels. The people that just whisper the possibilities of answers and hope.
These are in difficult, complex, far from straight forward, non-saccharine and non-facile situations.
But Nick Hawkes hope is that when a reader finishes his books they would find just that. Hope.
Dr Nick Hawkes has two degrees in science and theology.
He is the author of a number books including ‘The Bible on the Key Issues of Life’ and ‘Evidence of God.’
Nick has also authored fictional books as described in this article, including ‘The Celtic Stone’ and ‘The Viking Stone’.
When not writing or recording, he leads the pastoral team of Rivergate Christian Community in South Australia. He is an avid sailor.
Nick is also a broadcaster, writing and recording ‘Thoughts for the Day’ for radio, including Vision Radio.
He blogs at nickhawkes.net.