Between Literary and Commercial, Religious and Secular, Plot and Character, and Other Conundrums

In “Literary Lust vs Commercial Cash” (Writer’s Digest, December 2006), the successful author, Jodi Picoult, commented on her struggle between writing commercial or literary fiction.

“At some point in your career, you’ll be forced to choose either the commercial path or the literary one.” The reason, she said, has less to do with writing and more to do with marketing.

Similar to Picoult’s dilemma between literary and commercial (she manages to write books that are both) is my dilemma between marketing myself as a “religious” writer or as a writer of international mysteries and family relationships. My books aren’t what are termed “inspirational” even though religious choices exert influence on the main characters, if only made in a distant past.

My intended audience is the “spiritually engaged news junkie” as well as the reader who just prefers fiction with an international element.

Some of the audiences I’m aiming for are Christians who don’t normally read “Christian” books. They prefer certain secular books that, to them, present deep truths in a more subtle fashion.

I also write for tolerant unbelievers who don’t mind a character wrestling with life’s perplexities within a faith context.

In terms of character and plot, I enjoy the type of hybrid novels written by Charles Todd, writer of the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. These novels are not strictly a detective series. They are character mysteries about a British detective afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder due to service in World War I.

For myself, I’m still searching for that hybrid connection between authentic faith and a messy world, one that doesn’t always color between the lines.

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