Monday, December 13, 2010
Every writer expects it. It's part of the human condition. Something I heard years ago has stuck with me through times like these: "I cannot expect to be universally loved and respected." And that's a phrase I've had to repeat like a mantra since reading a recent one-star review of my debut novel, Code Blue. The reviewer's complaint--it was a "Christian novel."
To fully understand my frustration, I have to remind you that Code Blue has been available as a free download as an ebook at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble for the past week (see note at the end of this post). Well, one person took advantage of the free download and then gave the book one star because the novel is "Christian fiction."
What is "Christian fiction" anyway? I went back and copied what I said in an interview on Writer Unboxed after the release of my first novel. I think it's as good a definition as I can give for my own version of "Christian fiction": The primary difference I see is that (these novels) don’t have cursing or explicit sex, and portray a Christian worldview... The books portray characters that are flawed, as we all are, and who struggle with their relationships, both with God and their fellow man...What I’ve frequently said is that the only difference I really see is that these novels are written from a Christian worldview and don’t contain anything I’d hesitate for my mother, wife, or daughter to read.
In the discussion of the negative review, a couple of people suggested that they wouldn't have taken advantage of the free download if Code Blue had been labeled "Christian fiction." My question, in turn, is whether some novels should be labeled "Smutty fiction" or "Fiction containing lots of cursing." It just seems silly to me. If I don't like it, I stop reading. I do the same with a TV program I don't like. There's no mystery to discovering what a book's about. You can usually tell the nature of the book from the blurb (back of the book, or on the website of an online bookseller). Failing that, it's possible to thumb through the book (in a store) or read excerpts (online at Amazon). Why have labels?
Some people will want to read what I'm comfortable writing, some won't. But the question remains: Should Christian fiction carry a warning tag, so people who are uncomfortable reading it (and I wonder why that is...hmm) can avoid it? You tell me.
Note: This is your last day to get Code Blue, the first medical suspense novel in my Prescription For Trouble series, for your Nook at Barnes&Noble's website. The Amazon offer has apparently expired. If you or someone you know would like to take advantage of this offer, click this link and take advantage of the generosity of Abingdon Press in making it available. Thanks.