One of the things that’s interesting to me as an author is figuring out what readers are looking for when they’re hunting for their next read.
I’ll admit that, a lot of the time, it seems impossible to actually figure that out. Which makes sense, when I stop to think about it. I’m a big reader myself and I don’t always know exactly what I’m looking for when I’m hunting for my next read.
One thing I’m always on the hunt for — that it seems like others are also looking for — is realism.
At first glance, this can be bizarre. After all, isn’t reading the best way to escape reality? And okay, sure, there’s definitely a yearning for some escape in my reading habits. Except, at least to me, falling into the lives of people who aren’t me is enough. I don’t feel the need to have a completely perfect fantasy world where there are no troubles — or the troubles that are there are solved easily with a quick prayer. (Let me be clear though — if you do love those sorts of stories? There is nothing wrong with that!)
I find my reading preferences influence my writing. I want characters who are people who are like me — doing their very best to live for Jesus in the middle of this messy world. People who know the Bible (every single word in it) is the living, active, inspired word of God and want to live out what Jesus commands, but who also know that the American culture is 100% opposed to a lot of the words that are in there, and people are eager to point fingers and label Christians judgmental (or worse) for standing up for God’s truth.
And so I tend to write books that touch on issues that crop up in the church today. Issues that are sometimes labeled political, but that are, in my opinion, matters of the heart alone. They are issues that show just how much each and every one of us needs Jesus.
Over time, I’ve tried to lighten my stories up with varying degrees of success, but I keep coming back to needing to write what God puts on my heart. Because at the end of the day, I write for Him. Sometimes that means my stories have less to think about in them. Other times…well, not so much.
One of my “not so much” books is my upcoming fourth Peacock Hill Romance, A Heart Redirected.
The hero, Sean Fitzgerald, is a wedding planner. Christians in the wedding industry have some potential problems they face in today’s culture, so I didn’t feel it would be realistic (or honest), to completely skip over those in the story.
So I didn’t.
Generally, the feedback I’ve gotten from beta readers has been positive. That’s encouraging. But I’ll admit I’m also a little scared.
I have stared at the places in the story where I hit what one beta reader called “a cultural lightning rod” and hovered my finger over the delete key. I could probably take it out and tweak the story a little to get the point across in a different way. But it would be dishonest — to myself and to the story as God put it in my heart.
So I’m leaving it. And I’m hoping that the readers out there who are hungry for more reality in their Christian romance will read and enjoy it. And that all of us will be left with something to think about when we finish the happy sigh a happy ending brings.
A Heart Redirected will be out on all e-book platforms on February 26th. You can pre-order your copy now if you want to be one of the first to have it. Find your preferred version here.
What about you? Are you a reality seeker? Or do you prefer lighter, less encumbered stories? Tell me why! I’ll choose one commenter (open to anyone, even international) to get a paperback of A Heart Redirected when it’s out (which may end up being a little after the release date, sorry!)