If you asked me what type of book I write, I’d tell you that I write mainstream women’s fiction with a Christian perspective. In other words, I write stories that reflect my view of the world. For instance, God is an essential and important part of my life, yet I am constantly questioning His presence in my life and how I should live in relation with Him.
This perspective may become a challenge within traditional Christian fiction, because I question as much as I proselytize. My writing might be too worldly for the some Christian readers. For instance, one reviewer remarked that she found my use of a few swear words in my first novel, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, to be offensive. I wrote back and apologized that she was offended. However, given the fact that I was writing a novel set in war-time, I felt the sparing use of those words was within bounds.
On the other hand, I would not be inclined to write an explicit sex scene, even between husband and wife, and then try to publish it as a Christian novel.
In other words, no matter what genre you choose, your readers will have certain expectations of your book. If you want to write for that genre, you need to respect the guidelines while remaining true to your story and your unique voice. If you find that overly confining, then choose another genre.
Which is not to say that you cannot be original or break new ground in an established genre. You can, and it may be your originality might be rewarded with greater sales. However, I also believe it’s important to respect my readers, while I entertain them. I want them to remember my book for the wonderful story that transported them into another world, rather than shocked and dismayed.
What say you? Are there certain expectations that you bring to a book?