Last week I released my first book, and there are many reasons why this is exciting for me, but it also makes me nervous. I’m anxious about how it will be received, and even more so, how I will be judged for some of the choices I made about the content of the novel.
But that’s okay.
As a writer, well, as a human, I have to make hard choices every day about what I think, feel and believe and when that is put into the context of writing I make those choices for my characters as well.
By going with a small publisher I was able to maintain a lot of control over the content of my novel. As a result, though, I know there will be a lot of questions. Not the least of which will be: but this this is a CHRISTIAN novel—why are there curse words? Let me set the record straight first—the novel isn’t filled with profanity. In fact, I think there may be 5 curse words in the whole novel, but people—especially the target audience—will notice and I want to make sure I go on record with my reasons why.
1) I want to make the characters and situations real.
Many of the situations and people that the main character, Valerie, meets are not Christian. She is put into the ‘real world’ in some pretty amazing ways. For example, at one point she is in a biker bar. To make that setting seem realistic, the dialogue has to match that which she might encounter. Just because a Christian character goes into an un-Christian place, that doesn’t immediately corrupt the character nor does it ‘cleanse’ the place. For a Christian novel to be real, some of that has to be exposed. God told us to be in the world (not of it). I wanted my characters to reflect that. As Christians, we can’t deny being in the world and these are places that we are a part of every day.
2) I want people to empathize with the character’s grief and pain.
Valerie is processing the death of a close friend—someone who had been a soul sister to her. She experiences deep, soul crushing grief and pain. The anger manifests in her dialogue and interactions with other people. I would love to say that as a Christian I have never used foul language in my grief and pain, but that would be a lie. Again, to connect to the character I added to her humanity. She makes mistakes—including some of her language.
3) I want people to understand that just because something is “Christian” doesn’t mean that it is “perfect”—that goes for people, setting, situations, and language.
The themes and lessons in the novel are distinctly Christian, which is what makes this “Christian Fiction”, an interesting phenomenal genre that has really only developed in the last fifty years or so (I mean think about it. Charles Dickens had many Christian themes—yet he is not a “Christian Fiction” writer…). I don’t want to alienate the Christian reader by using curse words, but I also don’t want to lie to them either. My story called for them, so I used them.
The funny thing about it is, I worry—not about using them, but about being judged for that decision. Hopefully, my readers will understand and accept the choices that I made, but if not I hope they can at least present some counterarguments to me that are logical and well-thought out enough so that as I continue to write I can keep them in mind for my future endeavors.
Buy my novel at any of these locations:
Barnes and Noble:
Second Wind Publishing: