Christian Romance–Like it or Leave it?

I recently replied to a blogpost by Sally Apokedak on the blogspot Novel Rocket. I’ve enjoyed this blogspot: She was asking what kind of fiction we like to read: books w/a glaring gospel message? characters that do or don’t change for the better? I’m posting part of my response below. Let it be known that I didn’t have issues w/bad parents/abandonment! But the point was that I think Christian fiction needs to be realistic. Or maybe not even be categorized as Christian fiction at all–thus transcending the market and reaching more people with the truth.


HG–“The problem I have w/Christian romance (most of it), is that the main guy character is unbelievable, and not representative of a real guy at all. I think running our male character’s actions through a trusted male friend/husband is an important step. MOST guys don’t normally know exactly the right words to say or romantic/protective gestures to make ALL the time. Also, I don’t like that alot of “romantic” books are about single women. Don’t married women know something about love? And I mean REAL, sacrificial love? Or are we just too boring to write about? I just wish more marriages, with their struggles, were portrayed in Christian fiction. I know there are several Christian books out there like that, but those usually aren’t the ones I see touted in Christian bookstores/libraries.

I love Gina Holmes’ “Crossing Oceans,” b/c it dealt with the real problems of cancer and divorce, etc. I love Frank Peretti b/c he deals with spiritual warfare in ways most of us hadn’t even thought about. I love C.S. Lewis b/c he was REAL (and deep!).

For what it’s worth, I write character-driven fiction about married MCs (main characters, in writers’ speak). But I don’t think it’s what Christian agents are looking for right now. I’ve definitely thought about selling out and writing romance about some single girl going to NYC (don’t they all!??) and her Cinderella story…but that’s just not me, and it’s not something I would want to read.

I think alot of people who’ve grown up reading the classics (like Hardy, Eliot, etc) are looking for characters we can sink our teeth into, who have flaws and strengths and struggle with things we all struggle with, like death and abandonment and bad parents, etc.

I realize I’m saying “I think” a lot, and obviously there are many people who feel otherwise. I’d just hate it if women read Christian romance (or any other kind of romance) and think that if their husbands aren’t acting as romantic/thoughtful/protective as the main guy in the romance, they’re falling short. This kind of thinking usually winds up in divorce–I’ve seen it happen.

I’d just like it if the demand for multi-faceted characters with multi-faceted plots gained momentum in the Christian market.

Thanks for asking, sorry to go on and on, but this is something I do feel very strongly about. How many Christians wind up skipping the Christian bookstore and reading best-sellers from the library/bookstore b/c their favorite genres just aren’t represented in Christian fiction? Christian writers can change the world, and not just from the confines of the Christian bookstore. We don’t have to preach, but everything we write should come from a Christian worldview, b/c that’s what we have!”

I’d love to get your comments on this. How do you feel about Christian romance? I understand that people are attracted to different genres. I’m just wishing the Christian market would reflect what Christians are ACTUALLY interested in…thus, “Otherworld.” Plenty of Christians are interested in ghosts, but they won’t come out and say it. Frank Peretti blew a hole in “standard” Christian fiction with his supernatural thrillers. What kinds of fiction do you read and why?

7 thoughts on “Christian Romance–Like it or Leave it?

  1. To be honest, I don't read Christian novels very often for this exact reason. I usually read secular books instead, because the secular books are more true to life. That's also why I write for the secular market and not the Christian market. I think my characters are too flawed to make it in the Christan market! Great post, Heather!Amy

  2. I agree w/Book-in-a-Month Mom and A.L. Sonnichsen. Could any work of real significance get published today as Christian fiction? I dare say that most Christian fiction has zero impact because Christian publishers refuse to print fiction that addresses real-world struggles. I'm not suggesting that Christian fiction should be easy on sin. Then it wouldn't be Christian. But how can you show the consequences of sin, how can you show what it means to wrestle with sin, if all mention of sin is banned? Again, if God hadn't written the Bible, no Christian publisher would touch it.

  3. let me just say that the above anonymous comment is by my ever-loving husband. i told him to post a comment and see how difficult it was to sign in, etc. then he got upset b/c i deleted his first comment. so there you go, babe–it's posted.

  4. Please note that, in my comment above, I wasn't suggesting that I regard the Bible as fiction. What I meant to suggest is that matters addressed in the Bible, and the frankness with which they are addressed, would not be considered acceptable in modern Christian fiction.

  5. Hey, Heather, I realize that this post is pretty old, but I found it through your 1-11-12 post where you apologize for your comments above on Christian fiction and reviewed Mary Connealy's book (who is a very dear author friend of mine), so I wanted to respond. Hope that's okay. You said: "For what it's worth, I write character-driven fiction about married MCs (main characters, in writers' speak). But I don't think it's what Christian agents are looking for right now." I, too, write "character-driven fiction about married MCs," and believe it or not, my publisher Revell told me the 2nd-tier romance in my book about the married parents was one of the main reasons they bought my series. In each subsequent book, I have substories about the parents love affair and the married sisters from the prior books, so there's LOTS of married problems/romances going on, which like you, I personally LOVE! So do NOT give up hope and leave your first love because its time will come.You also said: "I'd just like it if the demand for multi-faceted characters with multi-faceted plots gained momentum in the Christian market." Oh, honey — tell me about it!! I write family-saga historical romance about a VERY passionate family, with deep and detailed plots that always contain a surprise. It's true that a majority of Christian readers want a simpler, more linear book that harkens back to simpler times. BUT … I do believe we "multi-faceted plot/intricate characters" types are gaining momentum, which is SO needed to bring a broader spectrum to the Christian romance market today. It is my hope that this more indepth fiction will eventually give the more predominant Amish and Prairie Romance a run for its money! :)As to your question of what kind of Christian fiction do I read? Since I write historical romance, that is what I mostly read, but as a woman who started writing my debut novel at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind, I did not find the level of passion I was looking for in the Christian market, so I wrote my own. I am happy to say that the passion level is coming up somewhat in today's Christian market, which thrills me to NO END!!Thanks for letting me spout off. Great subject!!Hugs,Julie Lessman

  6. Thank you, Julie, that is some awesome news! I've found out that writing in a popular time period is very important too (Tudor is great now!). But I do have hope for my multi-layered, married MC Viking book! Things are looking up for it (and for a wonderful agent I hope to sign with someday!). I appreciate your comments and I'll have to check out your books!And I was thinking about it–look at "The Notebook!" That was married romance of older people! And it was WONDERFUL–one of the deepest forms of romance, if you ask me!

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