Question for Fiction Readers

I was wondering if you are an avid fiction reader would you purchase/read books that were more Catholic Fiction. In other words if the characters were truly Catholic no matter the genre?

If yes what kind of books would you like to see? (ex. Romance, Historical, Adventure, coming of age)

As some one who is interested in writing novels, if possible with Catholic character and/or overtones, I wondering how much of a market there is.

Thanks for your honest answers.


Most of the novels I read are science fiction and/or fantasy. .

But I do like to read historical fiction and adventure stories. Those are probably easier to fit with Catholism, (not that science fiction/fantasy couldn’t.) I would read such a novel.

I would be very unlikely to read a romance novel unless it had a really good adventure to go with it.

Father Andrew Greeley has written many novels which he says contain Catholic themes. I’'ve not read any so I can’t evaluate them but they sure have made money.

Not really - great literature is great literature. I read it less than I used to, however.

I would not read anything that was offensive to my faith or morals - I’m well out of high school English classes so I can choose my own literature.

But I get in enough non-fiction spiritual reading and learning of the orthodox Catholic type that I don’t really require it from my non-fiction as well.

Flannery O’Connor, Chesterton, those are two writers you could really look at to see how to write good fiction as a Catholic.

Read “Brideshead Revisited” - another example of fiction with a real Catholic presence.

Write GOOD fiction as a Catholic.

At our house, we read Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum novels, and novels of that sort. Our idea of a “classic” is The Hunt for Red October. We also enjoy Lillian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who” mysteries. :slight_smile:

I don’t know that I would read a novel for that reason. It would have to be a good plot and well written. But I do consider it a plus when i’m reading a quality book and a charactor (preferably a good one) is catholic.
Two of my favorite books had catholic undertones in them. Dracula was one. I liked how Van Helsing used the host to block the vampire from leaving it’s tomb.
The other was Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrel. It talks about how the fearies revered the saints. It had other undertones in it, but i can’t remember them right off the top of my head. I bought the book for one of my Priests (we have similar taste in books, so we trade books alot), and he was actually the one to point out the undertones to me.

I would.

Two of my fav. books are Pierced By A Sword by Bud MacFarlane jnr, and Late Have I Loved Thee by Ethel Mann. The later is an old one about an atheist/agnostic who turns to Catholicism after his sister is killed just before her formal entry into the Church. He becomes a priest. Heart-rending.

I also love books by Catholic or lapsed Catholic authors such as Dean Koontz and Pat Conroy. Somehow, if they haven’t gone anti-, something of Catholic teaching comes through.

Then, of course, there are Tolkein and Chesterton.

I once checked out a Greeley from the library simply because he is a priest. I can’t remember if I even finished it, and I am a prolific reader. It just made me uncomfortabe somehow.

Thanks for all the responses so far. I hope that if I wrote “Catholic” fiction it would be good. Both in the plot, character and any Catholic elements would be true to the Church. Continued responses are welcomed. :slight_smile:

My fiction is “Catholic-friendly.”

I can’t help it!

Try reading Madeleine L’Engle’s wonderful non-fiction book for writers and other artists, Walking On Water–Reflections on Faith and Art.

Basically, she says that Christians can’t help it–their art WILL be Christian, even if the subject of the art has nothing to do with Christianity!

Her book, A Wrinkle In Time, has a Christian world-view even though it is not overtly Christian.

After I finished my first novel and published it, my husband pointed out that the Gospel was preached in it. In the novel, a Jewish person is hurt and bleeds, and because of it, others are saved. That’s a gross simplification of the plot, but it’s definitely there underneath all the fun and figure skating and adventure and mystery!

I didn’t even realize that this had worked its way into my novel until someone else pointed it out to me!

I think that Catholics would enjoy more “popular” fiction. Many of us aren’t interested in literary fiction at all. I attended a conference where an author asked, “What do you call literary fiction?” The answer: “Unread.”

Sorry, intellectuals, I know it makes me sound like a bumpkin, but I really don’t like most literary fiction. I like a good, galloping, plot-filled, exciting, heartstopping, tear-jerking beach read, something that I keep taking out to peek at even if I’m at work! I like intriguing characters that I can visualize. I like dialogue that I wish I could think of when I converse! And I love plots that take me all over the world, even if “the world” is just a small town in Illinois!

I would like to see more Catholic romance, mystery and suspense, humor, thrillers, and adventures (adult and juvenile). I would LOVE to see Catholic historical romance, which is one of my favorite genres.

Protestant book catalogs are loaded with novels and stories, and quite a few of them are very badly-written! People suck them up anyway, and these authors are selling thousands and even millions of copies of their romances, thrillers, and even horror stories. E.g, the “Left Behind” novels.

But I only know of a few “popular” Catholic authors, and the only Catholic “romance” novels I know about are self-pubbed and are rather…unrealistically asexual and saccharinely-preachy.

**alh5184, I hope you’ll go for it, and come up with some best-sellers! **

My novels are mystery-adventures, written for young teenagers. (No sex, but lots of romance and thrills and chills–of course there are chills!–the novels are about an ice skating team!)

I am working on adult fiction that is “Catholic”, but I’m having a terrible time at the moment pulling my various plots together! I’ll just keep working on it and hopefully come up with something worth publishing that will be worth reading. alh5184, you do the same, OK?! :slight_smile:

So you say you’ve actually published your books? Maybe I didn’t read close enough, but what are the titles of the books you’ve published?
I started writing a book once. I was going through a difficult time, so I stopped writing. I really should start again.
While it wasn’t really a catholic book, it did have a jolly friar in it. It was a comedy/fantacy, sort of in the line of Princess Bride.

I love Dean Koontz! He’s a terrific writter. Have you read the “Odd Thomas” series? I like the first one best. “Brother Odd” wasn’t as much to my liking.

I’d read books with strong Catholic undertones, but that wouldn’t be the main reason I read it. I just finished “The Constant Princess” by Phillippa Gregory. It’s about Kathrine Of Aragon who just happened to be Catholic.

Andrew Greeley is a good writter. I’ve only read one of his books, “Desent Into Hell”. I thought he handled the topic of a young man being pushed into the priesthood well. I’d have to read more of his books to really give a true opinion.

I like a good “read”. I read anything from Romance to True Crime. As long as the author draws me into the book, I’ll read it.


I read just about anything. I like several Christian writers, but don’t limit myself to them.


The titles are The Scheherazade Curse and The Capitol Ghost. The target audience is older children and young teenagers, although many older teens and even adults like the books because of the memories they bring back.

I would love to read more Catholic fiction. I’ve read a couple of books by Katherine Valentine and enjoyed them.

The biggest problem I’ve had with Christian fiction is that it’s often (not always, but often) written in such a simplistic manner. It’s like the authors/publishers think that I’m stupid and can’t handle words of more than a couple of syllables. Drives me nuts, to the point that I won’t read Christian fiction anymore. Just don’t fall into that trap when writing and you’ll be fine.

Three… or actually, four names for you:

  1. Michael O’Brien – the man is a literary genius! I can’t say anything more than what’s already been said on other threads.

  2. Mary Higgins Clark – Almost ALWAYS has Catholic main characters and almost always makes the bestseller lists, so it’s not just Catholics reading her work.

  3. Aimee and David Thurlo – Probably better known for their Ella Clah mystery series, I’ve recently discovered their Sister Agatha series. Brilliant! An extern nun in a cloistered order in northern New Mexico who rides a Harley with a retired police dog in the side car and solves mysteries! (Uh… wait, I think I might KNOW some of these people!)

There you have it. I love reading, will read just about anything, but I look for Catholic fiction (good stuff) for my MIL who is a very picky reader. As an aspiring novelist myself, I hope people don’t start compartmentalizing Catholic fiction like they do Christian fiction and avoid it for that reason (and, no, I don’t think Christian booksellers associations would ever dream of considering Catholic books “Christian”, so it would have to be its own type of fiction.) It’s hard enough to get published without segregating yourself into a niche that’s very narrow and almost non-existent.

I just would like to see a lot more fiction where the Catholic characters are more like real-life Catholics rather than parodies when it comes to their religious practices.

I am a mystery/suspense fan and love the work of Ralph McInerny (the Father Dowling series). The books are overtly orthodox Catholic and fairly meaty (not like the trite TV show of a couple of decades ago).

I also love the writing of Catholic authors Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Flannery O’Connor – they’re more literary rather than popular fiction.



Write what interests you. Don’t worry about who your potential readership will be, or whether you’ll have one even. Write a good story and your readers will find YOU. As a writer, your responsibility is to your characters and to their story, first and foremost … not to your readership. Remember that.

That said, I’ll admit, I love it when I happen upon a Catholic character or theme in the books I read. I never seek out “Catholic Fiction” in particular, but literature with Catholic overtones or undertones definitely does appeal to me.

Here are a few examples of books that contain such overtones (some are rather obvious):

Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus (really anything by Dubus)
Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
A Case of Conscience by James Blish
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Also … books by Flannery O’Conner and G.K. Chesterton (as have already been mentioned). I can suggest more if you’d like.

But never tell a story strictly to appeal to a specific crowd or demographic. Tell a story to tell a story.

You don’t want to be pinned “a Catholic writer,” (or maybe you do, I don’t know). But if you do, realize that it will automatically mean: for as many people such a label might turn on to your books, it will turn OFF twice as many. In fact, your best bet is to go about subtly adding Catholic overtones to your stories rather than doing so outright. You’ll reach a larger readership that way.

I think C.S. Lewis pointed out … with his Chronicles of Narnia, he slipped Christianity in under the noses of people who knew no better. They didn’t realize the books were Christian. But in reading them, those people inadvertently exposed themselves to the teachings of one of the greatest apologists of the 20th Century. Lucky them, hey? :wink:

I set out to write a short reply. Sorry this got so long.

I really appricate everything that’s been said. When I write it definitly is for fun and I write about things I care about. I will definitly keep all your advice in mind as I persue my writing career.

I think the phrase either Lewis or Tolkien used was, “past watchful dragons.”

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