Dave Swavely is the pastor of a Pennsylvania church, the father of seven, and the author or co-author of several nonfiction books and one new novel, Silhouette.
Pastor and writer. Do those two callings go together? The discipline of writing, having to think through the way you’re using words more than when you just talk, is good for my trade as a pastor. Fiction published in a secular market gives me the opportunity to make connections that I wouldn’t otherwise make with people who are uninitiated to the Christian faith.
Which calling came first: pastoring or writing? When I was a little boy, I began to write. If somebody would have asked me even when I was very young, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would have said, “A writer,” and I actually also said, even, “A novelist.” I majored in creative writing. I didn’t believe I was called to be a pastor until I became one after college.
Let’s talk about your futuristic action/mystery novel, Silhouette. It’s published by a big New York house, Macmillan, and doesn’t have much about Christianity—although the main character is starting to sense that he’s missing something. He’s being exposed to Christians, liking some of the things he sees but mostly disliking Christian ideas—yet Providence behind the scenes is working in his life.
It’s set in a post-quake San Francisco, which has become a city-state ruled by a semi-benevolent dictator, so it and the draft of your sequel have some violence and sexual (not explicit) situations. Any good literature will contain both the sacred and profane, because life is full of both. Authors get shot at from both directions. In the Christian publishing world you can’t have too much of the profane or they won’t publish you. In the secular publishing world you can’t have too much of the sacred, or they won’t publish you or they’ll try to cut it out. It’s hard to write about the sacred and profane, to have a place for it to be published and read in today’s market, and also to do it in a way honoring to the Lord, where the profane serves the purpose of showing how great the sacred is.
The bad news makes us understand more our desperate need for the good news? Experiencing the bad news through the characters shows how great the solution is and how much it’s needed.
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