With Victoria Christopher Murray
of Truth Be Told
Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking quite an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, New York, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating in 1977, Victoria attended New York University where she received her Master of Business Administration in 1979. Victoria is the author of Temptation, Joy, and her current release, Truth Be Told. Listen is as The GOOD GIRL Book Club talks with Victoria.
GGBC: Victoria, how long have you been writing professionally and what inspired you to write in the Christian fiction genre?
VCM: I've been writing professionally since 1997. I was not inspired to write in the Christian fiction genre. I didn't even know that there was such a genre. I had never read anything even remotely called Christian fiction. I was just writing books about characters that I knew - people who made mistakes in life, but still loved the Lord. Everyone else said that "Temptation" (my first novel) was Christian fiction, and I said, "Okay."
GGBC: What do you believe is the biggest life lesson that God is teaching you through your writing?
VCM: I can't say that God is teaching me any life lessons through my writing per se. All of my life lessons come from my life. But, I have learned a lot about people, particularly ones who call themselves Christian. Because I write in this genre, I am exposed to so many people who call themselves Christian. I never used to question anyone about being a Christian, but I have seen some incredible (not so Christian) behavior from Christians. The biggest lessons I've learned is that there are many wolves in sheep's clothing out there and it is important to have a spirit of discernment. I look at people more by the fruit that they bear - how they treat people, how they speak, are they truthful, etc., now more than I ever did before.
GGBC: Victoria, your novels are known for dealing with issues surrounding marriage and family, relationships, and self with the main character being a strong woman of faith, who lives the life most women dream of, but yet face real life challenges. What inspires you to write these types of stories?
VCM: I want to write books that show readers "Christians are people too." We have the same trials, tribulations, and temptations as everyone else. It's how we handle them that makes the difference. It's important that I show my characters as real people - people who love the Lord, but who are flawed. It's important that readers see themselves in the story.
GGBC: Truth Be Told is a novel that is very close to your heart; can you tell us more about this story?
VCM: I'm not sure that Truth Be Told is closer to me than any of my other novels. They all are important to me because they accomplish different goals - however, Truth Be Told is the story of a woman who wins an election in LA on a Christian platform. Then, right after her victory, a dark secret from her past is revealed threatening to destroy her faith and her family.
GGBC: Religion and Christianity are prominent themes in Truth Be Told. At one point in the novel, the narrator explains that Grace "wasn't religious, although she'd tell anyone who'd listen that she was a Christian, serious in her love for God." Could you explain the difference between being Christian and being religious?
VCM: I can only give you my explanation of the difference between being a Christian and being religious. There is certainly not any explanation given in the Bible. But for me, being a Christian means having a personal relationship with Christ. It is just between you and Him. Being religious (again I stress, this is my opinion) is about rules and regulations. It's to me like the difference between Christianity and Churchianity.
GGBC: Betrayal and forgiveness are two themes that resonate throughout the novel. Why was this important to write about?
VCM: I don't pick "themes" when I write. I start out by asking a "what if" question. In this case, the question was, "what if a long ago sin comes back to haunt you in your life. What would you do?" So, that's where the betrayal part came from. The forgiveness part just comes out because you can't write a book with God in the center and not have forgiveness as the central part of the book. Forgiveness comes out in all of my novels, yet that has never been anything that I've tried to write about. I guess it's just God.
GGBC: What do you most hope for readers to take away from Truth Be Told?
VCM: My purpose for writing is to reach people who may never walk into a church, or who may never have anyone tell them about the love of Christ. So the message that I hope all readers walk away from with all of my novels is the same - that Jesus loves them and living a life for Him will make this walk on earth much more fulfilling.
GGBC: In your opinion, what do you think is the distinction between Christian fiction and a novel that talks about God?
VCM: I don't know if there is a difference. It just depends on who's writing it. There is such a discussion today on who writes Christian fiction and who doesn't. And, to me, it doesn't make a difference, as long as the Lord is being exalted. There are no guidelines as to what is Christian fiction, or Inspirational fiction or Faith-based fiction. I think that question may be better suited for a reader, vs. an author to answer.
GGBC: Is there a bit of advice or insight that you can provide to readers of Christian fiction, who also desire to write in this genre?
VCM: I say that a writer has to learn the craft of writing no matter what the genre. Do that through reading and taking workshops, and writing as often as you possibly can. Then, I say to write what God puts in your heart - and don't try to do this to make money. Even if you make a few bucks, you won't last because writing has to be your passion to be in this industry (with all of its stuff) long term.
GGBC: What's next for you with regard to your writing endeavors?
VCM: I just signed another contract with Simon and Schuster for my next novel to be released next June. I am very happy with this publisher and we're working together to not only increase my sales in the mainstream market, but to also get into the Christian market. I hope to get back on the one-book-a-year writing track. So, I'll be out again in June, 2005.