Thursday, April 16, 2015

Religious themes in Contemporary Romance.

Let's face it, characters aren't static. They are complex, real, and deserve to have struggles. I find that many romance books these days have stepped away from "good writing" and have instead become a platform for mindless smut, overdone storylines, and immature behavior. Authors are not meant to only write socially responsible books. We're meant to tell the truth, whether people agree or not. We're meant to dwell on the good and the bad side and then sometimes swap it up.

  One thing I have an issue with is the lack of spiritual discovery in books outside of the Christian Romance genre. Just because a character isn't religious, doesn't mean they don't interact with spirituality on a day to day basis. The Christian Romance genre is very limiting (in my opinion).  The genre explores limited themes with only certain types of characters. I don't often read in this genre because of this. Even when I read a contemporary romance book that has a "religious" character, the spirituality is confining. The author doesn't explore the struggles, but instead uses the religion as a catalyst to write a virginal and inexperienced heroine. I find myself scratching my head. Why does it have to be this way? (If you have a recommendation for one that isn't like this, please leave a comment and let me know)

When I first wrote The One Thing, I researched different types of addiction for the themes in my book. Religion seemed to be a major step in a lot of recovering alcoholics lives. Ginger was already written out, she wasn't religious so I couldn't change her, but I had room to play around with Caspian. It didn't feel right to make him religious when he's in so much pain and is lost, but I wanted this aspect to follow him in a non-constricting way.
Then I wrote about his family.
 Good people who raised four wonderful boys in a christian home. As subtle as it was, I wanted their spirituality to be a basis for a happy family. The parents were at peace in every aspect of their lives, which resulted in a balanced family and marriage. Studies show that spiritual people are happier because they feel they have a purpose and order. Here is an article I found that links to these studies.

As I began writing Just Caspian,  I realized I had to explore the Norwood family more in depth. I struggled with how far to take James and Pearl Norwood. Obviously, Caspian scoffs at his father's religion, having turned away from it, but I wanted him to be respectful. I wanted little seeds to be planted about how Ginger views this family. She mentions that God seems to give James the strength needed to deal with tragedy. Although her moral basis isn't swayed in the novella, it's safe to say that they made a lasting impression (which is what Christians are taught to do, good deeds)

As you read Just Caspian, discover the complexity that is intertwined into the characters. Religion isn't a major theme in the book, but it does play an important part in the interaction of the characters. Why does Caspian blame God? Why does James handle the events so well? Why does Ginger admire the Norwood family so much?

Just Caspian releases on May 2nd
Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE

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