The plot of A Twisted Strand is ordinary. Well, maybe not so ordinary as all that. A rogue virus comes to South Texas, genetically engineered by terrorists.
But writing about bioterrorism wasn’t my main reason for writing the book. I’m not a Michael Crichton (author of such books as Jurassic Park), and my focus wasn’t really the science, although that is included.
Instead, I wanted to write about the Scriptures. And here I was challenged, because how do you write about doctrine and how the Scriptures impact people’s lives without sounding like a cheap tract? Indeed, I was told not to be “preachy.”
Usually when I pick up a novel by a Christian author, I want to be entertained. If I want theology, I’ll listen to a sermon or read that kind of book. But several things encouraged me in my path.
First, Richard Belcher’s theological novels. I think this theology professor invented this sub-genre; in any case, I saw it was possible to write an interesting book that was chock-full of doctrine.
I wasn’t going to write that type of book exactly. But it got me to thinking. What I was contemplating could be done, I decided. Belcher “lite,” maybe. Something with more story and less theology, but profitable nonetheless.
Second, as I received mixed feedback from others, I began to second-guess myself. So I thought it through some more. I thought about all the Christian fiction—and other fiction—that I read. And I realized something. All of it has a theological or philosophical underpinning. Sometimes it’s subtle. The Lord of the Rings contains several archetypes of Christ, but not everybody notices. Christian fiction often includes a theological question, often the standard, Why do bad things happen if God is good?
I soon realized that the issue isn’t theology or even Scripture. It’s how it’s done. Is it a natural part of the story, or is it just copy / pasted? My writer friends helped me here, by pointing out spots where it didn’t seem quite natural.
Finally, edited and published, my book was in my hands. I gave a few copies to the sweet sister in Christ who posed for the cover. She was excited. She wanted to give copies away to friends and family because it contained the gospel in a “natural” way.
That made it all worth it.
Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. A biology teacher by trade, she teaches part-time, writes, and edits. She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and has just published her debut novel, A Twisted Strand. Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas. For more, see