The Struggle Is Real for Catholic Fiction Authors

By Guest Blogger T.M. Gaouette

As the author of Catholic fiction for teens and young adults, I find myself in a constant battle of the wills. There’s this desire to delight the reader with an entertaining and relatable story, while still remaining focused on pleasing God and sharing His Word. Some may not think this much of a challenge, but when you reflect on the world we live in, as well as what passes for entertainment these days, hardly a fraction of it would be considered godly. In fact, entertainment is so focused on stories that do everything but promote God’s word, or worse, indulge in ideas that are contrary to God’s word.

Teens Reading

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When it comes to teen fiction, it’s all about rebelling against everything that used to be considered good, promoting dark and destructive themes, and introducing attractive characters with sinister desires. I could throw out a list of examples, but that wouldn’t be fair, or even necessary, quite frankly. I’m confident you know what novels, past and present, I’m referring to.

That’s life, some people will rationalize. That’s the world we live in. Well, yes, it is. But is it the world we should be living in? Is it the world that God wants us to live in? Is it a world we should be promoting? Is it one we should be celebrating?

Scripture tells us that we should be careful about what we put before our eyes. In 2 Corinthians 7, St. Paul reminds us, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.” To cleanse ourselves means to ensure that nothing unholy fill our minds or our lives. That’s not easy for us to do when we’re constantly bombarded with unclean and unholy images all day long. There’s only so much we can control, but we can certainly limit the unholy and instill within us God’s glory in so many other ways, including the books that we choose to read.

So, does that mean that Catholics should only read novels about good people doing good things in a world where real life messy doesn’t occur? Well, of course not. That wouldn’t be realistic. And besides, Catholic authors are real people living in the real world. Regardless of how much some of us wish to isolate ourselves from this current post-Christian society, we feel deeply about our role in this world. We are aware of the real world issues that teens are dealing with, whether they’re emotional or physical. We understand temptation, loss, insecurity, loneliness, lust, heartbreak, crushes, drugs, premarital sex, depression, suicide and so many other dark aspects of the world that are confusing and consuming for teens and young adults. But we take the dark and we add light.

Writing is a vocation for us. It’s a ministry. Personally, I believe that the Lord sprinkled the gift of writing upon my head and now I must use it to glorify His name. I am to take the world as it is and place God into the center of it where He belongs. I’m to create real lives the way they should be lived in the hopes that teens are inspired and instill the virtues and values into their own lives.

My fiction is restrictive, it has boundaries. It takes you only so far and then pulls back where most secular fiction throws itself out. Sure, my stories are real. They hit hot button issues and take the reader to places that the world has to offer. But my desire is to show my reader that, while there are these wild places of abandon where fun and happiness seem to abide, they’re often apathetic choices and temporary highs, and they certainly don’t make us the people our God wants us to be. What my novels have to offer are holy encounters that lead to a more fulfilling life.

For example, in The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, I introduce foster children who have experienced unjust adversity and are learning how to overcome the anxiety and fear of their hurt. And in the first two novels of my Faith & Kung Fu Series, Freeing Tanner Rose and Saving Faith, I include themes such as drugs, addiction, destructive fame, and loss, and I show how God can help overcome it all. These are real stories about real issues, but they offer hope. They’re about God-loving people in a godless world.

And of course mine are not the only Catholic novels out there. There are many new Catholic authors who are taking pen to paper in a desire to share His word with teens and young adults in fun and exciting, entertaining and edifying stories about every day people, dealing with everyday issues. If you like contemporary fiction, consider Carolyn Astfalk’s recent release Rightfully Ours, Leslea Wahl’s The Perfect Blindside, Stephanie Engelman’s A Single Bead, or Cynthia Toney’s Birdface Series. If you are into historical fiction, then try Carmela A. Martino’s Rosa, Sola or Susan Peek’s awesome collection of saint novels, including Saint Magnus: The Last Viking –a personal favorite. Love a good mystery? How about A.J. Cattapan’s 7 Riddles to Nowhere or Lizette M. Lantigua’s Mission Libertad. If you prefer dystopian fiction, then read Theresa Linden’s Chasing Liberty Trilogy, or Corinna Turner’s I Am Margaret series. These are just a few examples of great Catholic fiction that won’t leave you empty and alone or stuck in a pit of depression. These novels will hold you high, give you hope, and show you God’s love and amazing grace. Check out for more. And the Catholic Writer’s Guild always has a great list of Catholic fiction for teens, old and new.

Yes, the struggle of a Catholic author for teens is real. I have to compete with hot and unbinding fiction that grabs at the emotions and the loins, while my goal is to win hearts and minds for the Lord. The struggle is real, but so worth the effort when teens are inspired by my stories and others to place Christ into the center to their lives and shine a light on their darkest moments.

“Finally, beloved whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

T.M. GaouetteT.M. Gaouette is a wife, home-school mom, homesteader, and fiction novelist. She was born in Africa, brought up in London, and is now living in New England, where she raises goats with her husband and four children. Devoted to Him, Gaouette is dedicated to glorifying God by sharing His word through her fiction for teens, and young adults. She is the author of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, Freeing Tanner Rose (Bk. 1-Faith & Kung Fu), and Saving Faith (Bk. 2-Faith & Kung Fu).







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7 thoughts on “The Struggle Is Real for Catholic Fiction Authors

  1. Well said, TMG! I love writing. I feel compelled to write! And I want my stories to entertain, to grab a reader and not let go. But even more, I hope that my fiction lets readers see the visible and invisible realities through stories with characters and situations they can relate to. And I hope our stories, which give the bigger picture, in one way or another help readers put life’s challenges in perspective. And that they inspire and encourage and bring hope!

  2. I’m a reader, and I’m Catholic. I’ve read a lot of Christian fiction over the years and come Catholic fiction. Most of the Catholic fiction I’ve read has been self-published or published by very small presses. Much of it (and I haven’t read yours) reminds me of what I call “early Christian fiction” or a sermon wrapped in a story. As a reader I want real charcters with real problems whose lives proceed, well, normally. I don’t like homilies being used a plot advancement devices. I don’t like snippets about religion thrown in for no apparant reason. Romances where one partner or another has to find Jesus before s/he can find love — and whose lives become perfect once they do make me roll my eyes.

    • I’m there with you. Who wants to read a sermon masquerading as a story? I’ve only read some of what you call “early Christian fiction,” but I know what you mean. And you find it in some Catholic fiction, too, which, as you say, is largely coming from micro-presses and indie publishers. I’ve not read every book at the CatholicTeenBooks site yet, but I’ve read a great many and can say they are not the preachy, hokey kind of books you’re trying to avoid. A good source for adult books that should pass that muster would be the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval awardees. You can find them at the CWG site or on Goodreads. Unfortunately, you can’t really search by genre. I’d be happy to send you a list with some personal favorites according to your genre if you’re interested.

    • Yes, that’s how much of it began. All sermon and no story fiction is definitely not appealing or even that good. Much like a Christian movie with a hokey story-line and a bunch of bad actors. But Catholic fiction has come a long way and the fiction I write, as well as those which I listed, are amazing stories with God-loving people (although not all of them are) living everyday lives and dealing with real issues. I assure you, they’re well worth the read. If you do get a chance to read any, come back and share your thoughts! God bless. TMG

  3. T.M., thanks for this, and for mentioning my novel. I look forward to reading some of your books soon. My TBR pile is stacked high and is growing faster than I can keep pace. 🙂

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