New book in a unique genre
It’s been 11 years since David Gregory’s book Dinner with a Perfect Stranger became an overnight best seller for us at LifeWay. Readers were captivated by the unique way that Gregory presented a conversation his character had with Jesus and how it dramatically changed his life. I was a fan of Dinner as well as his follow up book, A Day with a Perfect Stranger.
So I was happy to see a new release in the works from Gregory earlier this year when my Tyndale rep presented Open: Get Ready for the Adventure of a Lifetime. Not only will this be another refreshing read, I feel that it will also minister to those of us who find ourselves asking God why He allows suffering, especially in the lives of good people.
Let’s take a look at Open…
You’ve accepted the invitation. Are you ready to take the next step?
From the New York Times bestselling author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Open will forever change the way you think about faith.
It wasn’t the end of the world. It was just the end of Emma Jameson’s world. Fresh off the heels of a devastating breakup and floundering in her career, Emma is struggling to come to grips with why God allows so much pain in our lives, why He seems so absent when she needs Him most, and why the Gospel accounts—our supposed guide for how to lead a contented Christian life—feel so completely irrelevant.
Then one day, a mysterious envelope arrives in Emma’s mailbox with the word Open written on the outside. Inside the envelope is a card bearing the following message: “For a real adventure with Jesus, go through the nearest open door.”
Skeptical, but having absolutely nothing to lose, Emma steps through the pantry door, only to find herself instantly transported back to the first century, where she is taken on a personal tour of various Gospel accounts by none other than Jesus himself—an experience that radically challenges Emma’s perception of the Gospels and what it really means to be a Christian.
I’m happy to welcome David to the blog today to share how he feels called to write books in a unique way.
There’s a different animal in the book writing world. Doubtless you’ve noticed it. Probably you’ve read it. You just may not have heard the name it goes by. It’s called creative nonfiction, which basically means that the author has taken some nonfiction ideas that he’d like to present and wrapped them inside a (usually) fairly simple story that offers the opportunity for plenty of dialogue to discuss the ideas. (Look up “creative nonfiction” and you will also see included real nonfiction in various forms: memoirs, travelogues, etc. But I digress.)
I started writing creative nonfiction long before anyone told me what to call it. Dinner with a Perfect Stranger (2005) launched my fiction writing career, followed by two Perfect Stranger sequels and two other creative nonfiction novellas. In between, I wrote a full novel (The Last Christian)—“real” fiction! But I keep coming back to the creative nonfiction genre, as indicated by my upcoming release, Open (Tyndale), in October.
Like knuckleballers in baseball, creative nonfiction writers may be a small percentage of the author pool, but they are devoted. Think Andy Andrews (The Traveler’s Gift) or C. S. Lewis (The Great Divorce).
Why do I love this genre? Because it’s a fabulous way to get people thinking about vital concepts while also giving them a story they find entertaining—even, perhaps, a page-turner. It’s a great way to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and the totality of its meaning.
So why not just write straight nonfiction? Because creative nonfiction reaches people who would never pick up a regular nonfiction book addressing the same issues. People love stories. That’s why bestselling fiction exists. That’s why people go to movies. That’s why people sit at home and watch TV shows. They love stories.
If I can write a story that someone finds engaging, and in the process, present the gospel in a way that challenges the reader’s belief system, I have accomplished a huge task. This is the case if the reader hasn’t placed his or her trust in Christ, as the main character in Dinner with a Perfect Stranger had not. It’s also the case if they have already placed their trust in Christ, as the main character in Open has.
In Open, Emma, a 29-year-old Christian, is magically taken back in time to experience a dozen or so of the gospel episodes with Jesus himself, starting with the storm on the Sea of Galilee (spoiler alert: her adventures start when she is swept overboard). In the process, Emma discovers that how she conceived of the Christian life wasn’t at all how Jesus conceives of it. And guess who had it right?
It’s a joy to write of characters’ eyes opening to the truths of Christ, and it’s such a joy to hear from readers who have been touched by God in the same way. Who says life-changing concepts can’t be fun? That’s why I love creative nonfiction!
David Gregory is the author of the New York Times extended bestseller Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, as well as seven other books. His newest book, Open, releases with Tyndale House Publishers in October 2016.