Terry Glaspey can talk for hours about the arts.
“Christian art shouldn’t be propaganda for the Christian cause,” he says. He believes that artistic people, while blessed with the privilege of rearranging God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways, must remain mindful about truth-telling, even uncomfortable truths.Terry is the director of acquisitions at Harvest House Publishers. Not only does he love good books, but he is also the author of more than a dozen titles himself, including Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis (a Gold Medallion finalist), Bible Basics for Everyone, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, and 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. His latest book, The Prayers of Jane Austen, is being released now.
On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Terry will meet with writers in group appointments. If you want to show him your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what he would like to see and what he’s not looking at right now.
The following day, May 16, Terry will teach one workshop himself and co-teach another with fellow editor Carolyn McCready:
2) What Editors Are Really Looking For (with Carolyn McCready [insert URL] of Zondervan): You will get to contrast the different approaches of two different publishers! Between them, Carolyn and Terry have reviewed it all.
Kirk Kraft’s Interview with Terry Glaspey
Kirk: As an acquisitions editor, what do you look for in manuscripts?
Terry: I am looking for two key things: quality and marketability. Both are important. In terms of quality, I am always looking for good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Personally, I can enjoy reading about any topic if it has these qualities.
But—and this is the second thing I have to look for—the book needs to be marketable. We can’t ignore that publishing is a business and that publishers need to sell books. So, any book that is going to receive serious consideration needs a topic with a wide level of interest among readers, and it usually needs to have an author with a strong platform who can steer people toward it. The day has long vanished when an author can count on publishers to do extensive promotion on their books, unless he or she is already a bestselling name. Sad, but true.
In these economic times the marketing budgets have shrunk. It is critical for authors to use every means at their disposal to get the word out. And the topic needs to be one that is of general interest—not overly specialized.
Kirk: What’s been the most rewarding experience in your editing career?
Terry: I love interacting with authors who work hard to improve their books. The best writers are those willing to go through numerous drafts in order to deliver something that is polished and powerful. I have had the honor of working with some exceptional writers—people whose talent far outstrips my own—but have been able to help them make a good book even better. Few things are more satisfying than that!
Kirk: How do you think faith and the arts interact?
Terry: Do you have a couple of hours to talk about this? J This is one of my favorite topics. We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as “sub-creators,” those who rearrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways. And I believe that God speaks to us very powerfully in beauty. I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist—with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever—is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.
Kirk: You’re an avid C.S. Lewis fan and have written books and spoken often about him. When did you fall in love with his writing?
Terry: I discovered Lewis while in college. At first, his biggest impact upon me was through his intellectual arguments for the reasonableness of faith. And while I still enjoy that aspect of Lewis, there is also an aspect of his writing that is more mythic and intuitive that moves me at an even deeper level. He was unquestionably one of the greatest creative communicators in the history of the church. I never tire of his work. When I reread his books, I’m always discovering new insights that I missed before.
Kirk: What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from Lewis that you can encourage writers with today?
Terry: I think that one of his talents was in finding fresh metaphors for traditional ideas. It is far too easy for Christians to use phrases and words and ideas that have become clichés. This makes for lazy writing, and these clichés have little power to actually move anyone. We might nod in agreement, but they usually fail to move us. We need to find fresh ways to speak, fresh metaphors and word pictures that surprise and sneak past the defenses of our readers. It is often in surprising our reader with a “new way of saying it” that we create an openness in the heart and mind which allows the truth to slip past all the defenses and make the reader vulnerable to hearing the Word afresh. Lewis, in both fiction and nonfiction, was so good at doing just that. That should be the goal of every Christian writer—take the timeless, and make it new.
Thanks again to Kirk for letting us share his interview with Terry.
To request an appointment to meet with Terry Glaspey, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.
Diana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.