I like this question because it touches on more than just the craft of fiction and addresses the role of fiction in the world.
As I was thinking about the issues related to this question, I remembered that Jesus had addressed it himself when he told Nicodemus, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:19-21).
So, if it’s true that light and darkness are struggling against each other in our world—which is to say, within our own hearts—then the role of artists, I believe, is to enter that struggle, wake people up to it, and, hopefully, lead them to see glimpses of the light emerging through the dark corners of their own hearts.
I believe that telling the truth about the world is one of the core roles of an artist. So, yes. I do feel like I’m entering the struggle, or at least inviting people to observe it more honestly, when I write my books.
My crime fiction gives me a natural venue for exploring good and evil, but recently I wrote a book that explored them from a nonfiction perspective.
In Flirting with the Forbidden: Finding Grace in a World of Temptation, I tried to climb into the minds of some of the most famous (and obscure) characters in the Bible, and then tell the story through their eyes. The project gave me a new perspective on temptation (being lured into the darkness) and grace (finding the Light).
If you’re interested in a different way of addressing the themes of light and darkness, check out Flirting with the Forbidden. It’s very different from my novels, but I think the narratives will open your eyes in a new way to the depth of the struggle in each of our hearts.