Happy Valentine’s Day. And if you’re flying solo, Happy Galentine’s Day.
Let’s do a little replay. I wrote this blog post back in 2015 and thought the subject was worth revisiting. Enjoy the month.
I want to talk about the preconceived notions people have about Christian, Inspirational or Faith based books. When someone hears a story has one of the three aforementioned tones, they immediately shut down thinking the story is going to be sweeter than cotton candy dipped in chocolate and covered with gum drops.
There’s CIF [Christian, Inspirational, Faith] fiction that falls into that description and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s written extremely well and packs a message for the reader. However, it’s the misconception that all CIF books are like that which provokes a closed mind to experiencing some really great stories. [I swear I’m not preaching.]
When I decided to start writing, I’d dabbled a little in high school and college. Even so far as to writing a couple of plays. I found them later and felt they’d be a good base for a barbecue fire. When I read them again, I realized, although they were poorly written, they had a few things in common. The characters were all Christians but in real life situations. Let me explain. In a lot of CIF books, the story centers around the church with conflict between the pastor, the board, the choir director, pastor’s family and some evil person not affiliated with the church. There’s nothing wrong with those books. I’ve read a few and like them, however, they weren’t the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
I have always loved God, fashion and cute guys. I liked “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Bergdorf Blondes,” “Elements of Style” and “The Debutante Divorcee.” These were characters I could relate to. The books are filled with the most incredible fashion and very handsome men. The only thing they didn’t have was a faith based theme. It was reading these books that it occurred to me, why not write a book with similar content, but add a little CIF to it.
My first attempt at writing a book sounded very much like ChickLit. I was fine with it until my beta readers ripped it to shreds. After a lot of re-writes, I finally had a book I was pleased with. Problem was, it wasn’t considered acceptable. Why not? Response, Christians don’t act like that, Christians don’t care about designer clothes, Christians are happy being upper middle class at best, Christians don’t get challenged, tempted, have racy dreams or wicked thoughts, Christians only have sex for procreation and on special occasions. And there is no way a Christian would get divorced, commit adultery, fornicate, swear, drink wine or dance.
Needless to say, I was stunned at the comments because I know a lot of Christians that have experienced and or faced a few of those things. So I set out to write books for “my people.”
It ticks me off when I hear people say no one will read books about Christians [or people of other religious beliefs] in real life situations. I want to read about “my people” dating, regretting, marrying, divorcing, falling in love, wearing designer clothes, traveling and being pursued by wealthy men. I don’t want my heroine to be naive and deceived by an evil protagonist whose only objective is to steal her virginity or corrupt her. What about the sexy, fun Christian girl who works hard and falls for her boss, or divorces her cheating husband or who used to be a little slutty and is now in love with God struggling not to slip back into her old ways. These are great stories and if they’re written well, you can take the CIF elements out and they’ll still be great stories.
My next book is a take on Sex And The City. It’s five successful women all searching for love while wearing amazing clothes. I hear you saying that’s not possible because that book was all about sex. Not really, the core of that book was friendship. Sex was just one of the supporting characters, much like the clothes, men and New York.
I think it’s a little more challenging to write a CIF book because you have to determine how far is too far. Although I want my books to have a little heat, I’m very careful about crossing the line. I want my kissing scenes to be as passionate as those found in traditional romance. Although most of my characters are Christians, I don’t want their passion or desire to be watered down. I have chosen to share my characters thoughts. If my heroine finds the protagonist hot, she’s going to say so. And if he’s having a lustful thought, I want you to read it. These little nuances make the characters feel real…just like in traditional romance.
So back to the original question, IS THERE A DIFFERENCE? Not really, just different levels of intensity.