More than a dozen Christian romance authors discuss writing about love from a biblical perspective.
Over the years, FamilyFiction has talked to a lot of Christian authors who all manner of romance fiction—ranging from contemporary romance and historical romance to romantic suspense and Amish romance. What are the unique challenges (or benefits) of writing “romances” from a biblical worldview? Here’s what these authors had to say…
The challenge: Keeping the story clean while also ensuring that it deals authentically with some of the struggles and temptations Christians face when they fall in love. The benefit: The opportunity to write stories about great love between men and women AND God’s great love for us—all wrapped up in a single novel.
I’ve long been fascinated by people and what makes them tick, so as a Christian author, I feel immensely privileged to be able to explore the inner workings of the heart through my stories. I want to create a world where readers long to be, for readers to be immersed in my stories, which for some novels has meant fairy tale-like aristocratic alpha males and grand English estates.
But I want my stories to be more than just good kisses, and so I aim to balance that by grounding the story in a sense of reality, and allowing space for real life questions to be answered. My characters deal with questions concerning identity, insecurities and the need for belonging that all humans face, and which allows for the God threads to be woven into the story that helps deal with such issues.
I love seeing how relationships develop, how personal challenges can be overcome through God and through healthy relationships that are based on a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. Exploring this through stories, particularly romance, is a wonderful way to use fiction to express God’s truths.
Writing Christian romance has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. The benefits to me are very profound. I feel so blessed that I can use my creative talents to share my faith with readers. Being able to move people in a spiritual way while satisfying their desire for a happily ever after is extremely gratifying. For me, the challenges have been the judgment my genre has received from authors who don’t understand Christian romance or its popularity. It’s hurtful because it feels like Christian authors are being looked down upon at times.
I think showing the beautiful nuances of romance from a Christian mindset and delving into the glorious, pure love God created for us to enjoy as we fall in love and proceed in a way that keeps God first and as a couple grows in step with God’s plan and purposes for a man and a woman as they move into and experience marriage as He created it.
Writing Amish historical romance, it’s understood that my books are faith-based. Mary Sue Seymour, previous owner of The Seymour Agency, gave me the best advice. She said “Write Amish and show their faith along with your conflict. You won’t be asked to add sex or bad language like you would if you wrote contemporary romance if you’re with one of the big six publishers.”
She was right. Kensington formed an in-house umbrella for Christian authors called “Kensington Bouquet,” and I have not been asked to compromise on these things. And I love being with Kensington.
Another benefit is I’ve been asked to speak to Christian groups about the Amish traditions and lifestyles which has been good for marketing my books and sharing what Jesus Christ means to me.
I love that I get to show romances as God intended it. Not without flaws but beautiful and able to glorify Him despite them. The challenge is knowing I can’t please everyone, and some people will disagree, but praying I wrote what God put on my heart.
Our Heavenly Father is the author of romance. He created it, and I enjoy showing how godly relationships are possible and rewarding. I write novels that can be enjoyed by women of all ages. I have many teen readers, so I always have them in mind when I write and keep the level of romance sweet and inspiring.
My novels include romance and so much more—heroic heroes, inspiring heroines, interesting settings, and unique occupations. These are the building blocks of a great inspirational romance novel.
Susan May Warren
I love a Christian romance because it’s so much more than just about two people falling in love—It’s about how God loves us enough to show himself and his love through the people in our lives. He longs to delight our hearts and often he does it by putting the “one” into our lives to remind us how much he loves us. A Christian romance is one that touches the soul as well as the heart!
No sex. No steaminess. I think it’s natural for a man and woman to be attracted to each other and to think about….things…which can’t be mentioned in Christian fiction. At least they can’t be mentioned most of the time. Christian romances also show how folks can fall in love and have a faith element interwoven into the story. These are clean wholesome romances that folks can share with their grandchildren. These stories show the beauty of relationships that are not clouded by sexual overtones.
I love writing stories that can be passed from a young teen daughter to a grandmother, without worrying that the content will be offensive. I also love the emails and messages telling me how the story helped a reader through a difficult situation.
I find the benefits of writing Christian fiction far outweigh the challenges. Before I start writing I try to ask myself what do I want my characters to learn? And what problems are they going to face on their journey? I then try to find verses from the Bible that would be applicable to my characters along the way. I can then later use them in my writing, and it is always fun to see what Bible verses pop into my mind why I’m in the brainstorming portion of the process.
For me, my greatest challenge is keeping the intimacy appropriate for the readership. I tend to write with a little heat but fortunately, I have a great spiritual editor in the form of the Holy Spirit and a wonderful writing partner to help temper certain situations.
I believe authenticity is the key to characters coming to life on the page. And, in my opinion, it’s also the key to writing a faith-based storyline that reads both heartfelt and pure. At times, it’s crucial for me to take a step back from my manuscript to ensure my author voice isn’t clouding the natural flow of dialogue between my characters. My goal is not to write a book full of inspirational wall quotes, it’s to write honest words that connect to the heart of my reader.
The benefit is that I’m able to write from every aspect of my beliefs and my personality. I’m a romantic who still believes in the redemptive power of love but I’m also a Christian who believes in the redemptive power of God’s love. The challenge is to be as realistic as possible–to show real struggles endured by real people and still show God working in their lives. But, at the same time, to bring the characters to a place where we, as readers, believe they can now move on into a richer deeper life.
I have been challenged on the happy ending that each of my stories has. Anyone who has lived on this Earth and spent time with other people or been in a relationship knows that life can deal us sorrow and heartbreak. There is brokenness and there is pain. Not everyone gets a “happy ever after.”
In fact, I would say that no one really does on this Earth. My husband and I have gone through our own valleys of grief, loss and dreams we’ve had to set aside. We’ve buried a child, dealt with serious illnesses, had financial struggles and disappointments and sat by dying parents’ bedsides. But at the same time, we can say that we have been richly blessed. There have been happy and amazing moments in our life’s stories as well. And, I hope, there will be many more.
I know my characters aren’t going to go on to a life without struggles, if they were real people (and sometimes to me they are). I like to say that instead, I have chosen to end the story at a positive and redemptive point in their life. I know I’ve had them in mine and that’s the ending I choose to give my hero and heroine.
I hope that the readers of my books are able to come along on the journey I take them with my characters and trust that I will take them, at least for this book, to a good place in my hero and heroine’s lives.
I’m always careful to not send the message that finding a husband will solve all your problems. It’s a tricky thing! Both characters must have a life and a growing faith outside of each other.