Tuesday, September 09, 2008

That "C" Word

Crimson Eve (third in the Kanner Lake series) has touched a lot of people--frankly far more deeply than I expected it to. It's interesting to see what God will do with a book. Here's a recent email from a reader who has discovered that Christian fiction ain't quite what it used to be. I'm sure many of you published novelists out there have received similar letters.

I felt compelled to write you to share with you how much I appreciate your books. I have almost finished reading Crimson Eve, and you have impressed me more than I have words to express.

I grew up in the Bible Belt of the deep south where sex and other filthy things just weren't discussed by God fearing, Bible totin' believers. I never could understand that.

My journey to Christian fiction has been a fairly recent event. Although I am a devoted Christian, for many years I found Christian fiction a bit hokey. They didn't seem to ring true in my world. One day I happened upon one of Terri Blackstock's books. Who knew that modern Christian fiction existed?! My journey began and I've been devouring her books ever since. Somehow in my journey I also found Seatbelt Suspense. You mean a Christian novel can actually delve into a twisted mind of a psychopath? Now we're gettin' somewhere!

I have to say that if my 2nd grade Sunday School teacher read Crimson Eve, the book wouldn't be the only blood red thing in the room. Did you know you actually put the word condom in it? And you talked about a teenage girl getting pregnant? You weave into your books how Christians struggle with life issues and how we work through our vulnerabilities through our faith in Christ. In addition to providing a truly marvelous novel in Crimson Eve that deals with some very prominent issues, you have accomplished something I've never read before. My training is in mental health, and Carla's diary has perfectly captured the naive and misguided thought process of a teenage girl who is being taken advantage of by a powerful man.

I am impressed beyond measure at your gift of prose. I will be praying for you as you continue to write amazing things. May God return unto you blessings in abundance for the endless ways you have been a blessing to me.


Of course I wrote back and thanked this reader for her wonderful encouragement. It takes time to write a letter like that, and I'm always grateful for the gesture. I also told her that her email made me laugh. The last time a reader wrote about Crimson Eve and mentioned the "C" word, it was to strongly admonish me for being too sexually explicit. At that point in the story, that reader told me, she shut the book and stopped reading. (That kind of thing is a real source of frustration to me. That is--a reader judging the entire book after having stopped in the middle due to some issue. My books certainly can't be judged by the bad things happening in the middle. At least read to the end, then judge the story in its entirety.)

This woman responded:

The previous writer who read that vulgar "C" word and slammed the book shut must have been my 2nd grade Sunday School teacher. I warned you! hahaha. As if Christian couples never use them. Hmm... as if no young Christian teenager ever uses birth control pills, never gets tangled up with a manipulative pig who lays and leaves. No, the truth is none of us wear halos. We're faced with the same issues the sinful heathens are faced with. To turn our back on these issues, ignore them, not write about them and provide role models--good Christian role models--to help us make the right decisions, in my opinion, is a greater sin.

How many young girls around the country have found themselves in a secluded area with a manipulated, testosterone loaded boy or man who "reached into the drawer and pulled out a condom"?

I've used books to help others heal. I've received healing from them myself. In every one of them, the empowering component is when the reader can identify with the characters. Crimson Eve is indeed that type of book. A person cannot heal or grow by skirting around the issues. That only brings condemnation.

Have courage my friend. At the end of the day, all "C" word letters aside, you are making a difference in lives.

Gotta love this woman--and all readers like her who get what we're doing.


Pam Halter said...

I believe it comes down to this: no matter what you write, you're gonna offend someone ... so write what God is calling you to write!

Even the Scriptures are racy in places and terribly offensive to many who are not being called to faith.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pam. There will always be someone who doesn't like what we right for one reason or the other.

We just need to stay focused on God and write what He leads us to write.

I mean, some people don't like the Bible, right? And it was written by the creator of the whole universe.....


Nicole said...

The sad, maybe tragic, part of people who maintain this shrewish judgment is that they exercise that judgment on people who are hurting or who have never been instructed as to what the gospel says about anything.
Definitely not the audience for my novels . . .

Domino said...


As I read today’s F and F blog post, I was reminded of my Sunday School teacher past. I used to teach a high school SS class. The variety of personalities in the group made me want to bring them into unity by teaching things they could all apply to themselves. So I brought a lesson I thought would help them in the long run, “Not Everybody Likes You.”

By mere coincidence, a college-age friend of mine was visiting that day and remarked to me after the lesson was over that she felt welcomed and loved… until hearing that lesson.

I reminded her the point of the lesson was that it’s a waste of time, effort, and emotion to try to please everyone. If we focus on pleasing God and obeying Him first and foremost, we will find the satisfaction we seek. She said she’d gotten the point, but had to tease me about the lesson anyway.

I think it’s a lesson many writers forget because we are focused on “The Audience”. Some writers can spout off a description of their audience for marketing purposes – which is great, but they must remember not all of their target market will like them.

I hope I never have the audacity to describe my “audience” to a marketing rep as: He’s omniscient, omnipotent, and He lives in me.

Nevertheless, that audience is the only one I HAVE TO obey.

So, Brandilyn, I agree with the fans who thank you for writing about real conflicts and real solutions. You help us and give us all something to think about.

And with a chuckle in my voice, I want to tell you that I like you. I love you very much and always will, but...

...not everybody likes you.

Domino said...

After thinking about it, my mindset probably should be:

Writing for one; marketing to many.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

< …not everybody likes you.>

Oh, no! You’ve totally burst my bubble! I shall now go and have myself a good cry…

Thanks for your comments, Laura and all. Laura's comment speaks to the reason I chose to include info about the other email about Crimson Eve in the middle of this highly lauding one. For the same book—for the very same word, even—you get such different responses.