Writing a novel about Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th century visionary abbess and polymath, was a daunting process. I felt intimidated to be writing about such a religious figure. The last thing I wanted to do was churn out preachy inspirational fiction which would be both unconvincing and hypocritical coming from me, a lapsed Catholic who falls under the "spiritual but not religious" umbrella. How could I make Hildegard's story seem fresh and relevant to a modern secular audience?
For guidance, I turned to the literary fiction that has nourished and inspired me. Literature touches our spirit in a way that film, television, and even art cannot, for instead of presenting the passive viewer with a visual image, good writing demands our participation and co-creation. The words become the springboard for our own imagined vision of other worlds and other lives. In this imagined space, we can experience profound insights and revelations--soul-growing experiences we carry with us forever.
Books that try too hard to be spiritual can have the opposite effect. Educated readers demand books that respect them as discerning adults instead of preaching at them.
Too often both religion and spirituality have been interpreted by and for men, but when women reveal their spiritual truths, a whole other landscape emerges, one we haven't seen enough of. These three books, all focused on women's spiritual experience, transported me to completely new territory.