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There’s nothing I like better than to curl up on a comfy chair (or the end of a dock) with a good book. I’ve been an avid reader since I was seven years old. I remember the first time my father took me to the library to get a library card. “You mean I can take any book I want?”
“Sure,” he said, “you can take up to four, but we’re just borrowing them. You have to bring them back in three weeks.”
I remember the joy I felt upon returning home to spend hours reading those four books.
By the time I was a teen, before my re-version, I devoured trashy, explicit romance novels (all available at the public library) like they were candy.
The 50 Shades books are quite popular and the movie is coming out just in time for Valentine’s Day. Women and men of all ages are devouring these books that promote illicit lifestyles, domination and abuse of women. It’s sad, really, but not surprising given our current culture of death and “anything goes” secular society.
Like anyone, I love a good story, but I especially enjoy a compelling romance or suspense novel. As I grew in my faith, I no longer wanted to read fiction with explicit sex scenes or novels that promoted abuse of women. So I began seeking out Christian fiction. However, I yearned to read good, compelling fiction with Catholic themes.
In response to this desire, I started writing my first novel, Emily’s Hope, in 2001. Not only did I want to write a compelling story, I also wanted to include information on the Theology of the Body and Natural Family Planning. If I was going to write a novel, I wanted to write one that had the potential of evangelizing. Admittedly, this book’s target audience is small (NFP teachers love it), so I decided to widen my audience, improve my writing and include the Catholic/Theology of the Body themes in a less overt way.
Since then, I’ve written four more books and each one has been on various Amazon bestseller lists. My newest novel, A Subtle Grace, just hit #1 in Christian Historical Fiction, Christian Historical Romance and Christian Romance. And my publishing company now publishes other authors’ novels.
St. John Paul II said we can “overcome evil with good.” Here is a list of contemporary Catholic novels with Theology of the Body themes that can uplift, inspire and serve as an antidote to ALL the secular, trashy novels that promote illicit lifestyles. These novels encourage virtue rather than vice, respect rather than domination and love rather than lust.
Emily’s Hope (Ellen Gable, 2005, FQP)
Passport (Christopher Blunt, 2008, Pelican Crossing Press)
Midnight Dancers (Regina Doman, 2008, Chesterton Press)
In Name Only (Ellen Gable, 2009, FQP)
Stealing Jenny (Ellen Gable, 2011, FQP)
Finding Grace (Laura Pearl, 2012, Bezalel Books)
Angela’s Song (AnnMarie Creedon, 2012, FQP)
Rapunzel Let Down (Regina Doman, 2013, Chesterton Press)
Vingede (Friar Tobe #2) (Krisi Keley, 2013, S & H Publishing)
Don’t You Forget About Me (Erin McCole Cupp, 2013, FQP)
A Subtle Grace (Ellen Gable, 2014, FQP)
The Lion’s Heart (Dena Hunt, 2014, FQP)
A World Such as Heaven Intended (Amanda Lauer, 2014, FQP)
Working Mother (Erin McCole Cupp, 2014, FQ Publishing)
Do you have a favorite Catholic novel that is uplifting and edifying? Please feel free to comment below.
Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Image: Tim Baklinski (Two Trees Photography)
Like anyone, I love a good story, but I especially enjoy a compelling romance or suspense novel. As I grew in my faith, I no longer wanted to read fiction with explicit sex scenes. So I began seeking out Christian fiction. However, I yearned to read good, compelling fiction with Catholic themes.
Partly in response to this desire, I began writing my first novel, Emily’s Hope, in 2001. I’m a certified NFP teacher and I’ve debated the “contraception” issue with non-Catholics, liberal Catholics, ex-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics. So when I sat down to write my first novel, I knew that not only did I want to write a compelling story, I also wanted to include information on the Theology of the Body and NFP. I figured that if I was going to write a novel, I wanted to write one that had the potential of evangelizing.
Emily’s Hope is the story of “Emily” (loosely based on myself) and “Katharine,” my great-grandmother. In the seven years since it’s been published, I’ve received many letters from “fans.” One teenager approached me at a Catholic conference and said, “You know, Mrs. Hrkach, your book helped me to understand the Theology of the Body better than any textbook I’ve read.”
With my second novel, In Name Only, I wanted to write a Catholic historical romance that would be hard to put down, a romance that didn’t shy away from Catholic teachings on sex and marriage.
Amazingly, In Name Only won the Gold Medal for Religious Fiction in the 2010 IPPY Awards (the first Catholic novel to do so). It was in the top 100 of Religious Fiction and Christian Romance for six months and continues to sell extremely well on the Kindle. One reviewer on Amazon.com writes, “When I read In Name Only, I was floored. It was so good! I could not stop reading it! I read it in a weekend staying up until 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning to finish it even though I had work the next day… what really gripped me was how Ellen Gable took Theology of the Body (TOB) and turned it into a novel. TOB is near and dear to my heart. I loved how she incorporated the teachings of the Church and weaved them into such a complicated storyline…”
My third novel, Stealing Jenny, is a suspense thriller about the kidnapping of a pregnant woman. The husband and wife protagonists are open to life, NFP-using, devout (yet imperfect) Catholics. One of the main characters is not religious. Another character is a born again Christian. I purposefully created Stealing Jenny so that the teaching was more subtle. And, of course, I wanted to write a book that was hard to put down. Therese Heckenkamp of Traditional Catholic Novels, said “When I had to put this book down, I literally could not wait to pick it up again…Stealing Jenny is a smoothly written, chilling tale of gripping suspense. There are terrifying moments and heart-wrenching moments. Catholic faith and hope are tested. Above all, the sacredness and privilege of precious new life is made indisputably evident.”
A few weeks ago, Stealing Jenny hit #1 in Drama/Fiction/Religious on Amazon Kindle and has remained in the top ten for the past three weeks.
A warning: my novels, although not explicit, do deal with mature themes and are appropriate for teens and older.
All my books are available on Amazon.com in print or on Kindle.
Like many of the Amazing Catechists columnists, I’m giving away free books: one copy of each of my novels in print and Kindle editions, as well as both editions of my non-fiction book, Come My Beloved (that’s eight books in total). Enter to win by leaving a comment at ANY OF OUR COLUMNS, ANY TIME from NOW until December 15th!
Of course, my novels are not the only Catholic alternatives to secular “trashy” novels. Do you have a favorite contemporary Catholic novel? Please feel free to comment below.
Photo and Text Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
I’ve been a novelist for ten years. My second novel, In Name Only, (a Catholic historical romance) was the first Catholic novel to win the Gold Medal in Religious Fiction at the 2010 IPPY Awards and has been an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller for four months.
So what’s different about my novels?
Well, for one thing, they are unabashedly Catholic. There are many who don’t believe in evangelizing or catechizing through fiction. But I’m not one of them. After all, Jesus used parables to teach, didn’t He?
My first novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized parallel stories of myself and my great-grandmother. It illustrates the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage and why it is so important to obey these teachings. One young adult sent me a “fan” letter saying, “Your book has helped me to understand the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage more than any textbook.”
My second novel, In Name Only, is a romance which takes place in the 1870’s in Philadelphia. It is different from secular romances because it does not contain graphic sexuality. However, it does include teaching on the Theology of the Body, so sexual issues like promiscuity and pornography are dealt with tastefully. It was challenging to illustrate the Theology of the Body since that term was not coined by Blessed John Paul II until the early 80’s. However, Church teaching on marriage has remained constant. In Name Only has been my most popular book thus far, and continues to be an Amazon Kindle Top 100 bestseller in Religious Fiction.
With my latest novel, Stealing Jenny, I wanted to illustrate why it is so important to be pro-life, especially in our current culture.
From the back cover of Stealing Jenny: “After three heartbreaking miscarriages, Tom and Jenny Callahan are happily anticipating the birth of their sixth child. A neighbor, however, is hatching a sinister plot which will find Jenny and her unborn baby fighting for their lives.”
Advanced reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. “Stealing Jenny is a gripping novel filled with engaging characters, a compelling mystery and a message which underscores the precious dignity of life. I literally couldn’t put it down and give Stealing Jenny my highest recommendation,” says Lisa M. Hendey, Founder of CatholicMom.com and author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. Author and Blogger Sarah Reinhard writes, “Stealing Jenny will keep you on the edge of your seat and probably destroy your sleep pattern as you stay up to find out what happens. But beyond being a great suspense, it’s also anexcellent example of morals in action and family life redeemed. As a fan of Ellen Gable’s work already, I’m now officially getting a t-shirt!” Therese Heckenkamp of Traditional Catholic Novels.com says “Stealing Jenny is a smoothly written, chilling tale of gripping suspense. There are terrifying moments and heart-wrenching moments. Catholic faith and hope are tested. Above all, the sacredness and privilege of precious new life is made indisputably evident. I never wanted it to end!”
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach