Getting Caught up in the Drama
by Patricia Haley-Glass
When I released Nobody’s Perfect in 1998, it was a novelty. Labeled as contemporary fiction with a spiritual twist, readers were intrigued that the characters were realistic, dealing with modern-day issues just like the other novels they were reading, but the story was void of sex, profanity, and on top of that, had a spiritual message subtly woven in. At the time, books weren’t being written in that style, and if they were, they certainly weren’t getting published by the major houses. When Nobody’s Perfect made #1 on the Essence list and stayed among the bestsellers, readers were hooked.
Fast forward thirteen years later and the genre is filled with a plethora of wonderful authors telling fabulous stories, yet using a diverse range of writing styles. I’m often asked if there’s a difference between Christian, faith-based, inspirational, or church fiction? I notice that question is mostly asked by other authors or interviewers, not so much readers. I’ve found that readers don’t get caught up in genre categories. They read what they like – period. For me, the label doesn’t matter nearly as much as giving the readers my best. My novels are intended to entertain first and then offer a message of hope somewhere between the first and last pages. So, I prefer to call my books faith-based drama or just plain drama, because that’s the bottom line. That’s what readers want, drama, so long as it’s in the lives of others and not theirs.
My stories, such as my latest series with Broken, Destined, and Chosen, are filled with everyday (flawed) people experiencing the same family drama, challenges, failures, and successes as everybody else. I deal with hard-hitting subjects like breast cancer, molestation, addiction, infidelity, financial struggles, sibling rivalry, and so on. The only twist in my writing is how the characters go about seeking a resolution for their issues. I infuse the Lord into the mix, softly and never in a ‘preachy’ tone. There is typically a message of forgiveness, redemption, hope, and a dash of humor. I don’t offer a happily ever after ending where all problems are instantly solved and the characters skip off into the sunset. That’s not recognizable to me or my readers as far as reality. However, I do provide more of a hopeful ending that says no matter what the characters are going through, there is a brighter day if they keep the faith and stay in the game.
Sometimes aspiring writers are intimidated by the faith-based genre feeling like its rigid or, at times, critical about what’s being included (e.g. profanity, sex, etc.). My perspective is that the readers are the ultimate gatekeepers. Each author should write according to the gift, the calling, the passion, and the audience for which they feel led. No one author is going to please the masses, just like no single church in America is going to do that. We write and read according to our experiences, tastes, how we’re feeling at the time, or where we happen to be in life. My advice to aspiring writers is to write, release your gift, and be a blessing to someone else. Don’t get caught up in the labels or discouraged by the potential negative feedback of a few, just write. Start where you start and allow your craft to evolve. Regardless of what you write, completing your manuscript is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Enjoy your journey. Take care. Be blessed and keep reading, as I plan to keep writing to the glory of God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PATRICIA HALEY is the award-winning, Essence bestselling author of Nobody’s Perfect, Blind Faith, Still Waters, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, and No Regrets. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Chicago. She lives is in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.
Find this author online @: www.patriciahaley.com