As a child I grew up reading Enid Blyton’s “The Twins at St Clare” then “Trixie Belden” books and “Anne of Green Gables”. From the earliest age I either had my nose in a book or I was thinking about the characters in the book I had just read. When I got older I discovered a wide variety of books in different genres from authors such as Danielle Steele to Lee Child to Nicholas Sparks to Harlan Coben. Then I was introduced to Karen Kingsbury and a whole new world opened up to me. The world of Christian fiction. Now, I’ll admit I’m not a fan of historical or Amish-themed books so that limited my reading somewhat, but I devoured all the Christian books I could find. And I loved them.
When I was prompted to write my own book at the start of last year I automatically figured I’d write Christian romance. After all, that’s what I enjoyed reading so surely it made sense to write one myself. But there were a few big problems with this. Number one, the market is very small, especially in Australia. Secondly, the book I wrote was a 'come-to-the-altar-and-get-saved' type of book. (In retrospect it was so evangelistic I wouldn’t have read it!) And number three was, if I wrote Christian fiction, then it needed to be sanitised. Especially when it came to romance. Didn't it?
There are many things consistent in a romance novel. Love (obviously). A hero and heroine. Passion. Tension. Sex (usually). And ultimately a happy ever after ending. But writing a mainstream romance novel as a Christian presented me with a big challenge. Namely when it came to the sex bit. Writing it. Talking about it. The hero and heroine actually doing it. How was I going to get around that? I wanted to write real-life romance with real-life characters but how was I going to do that if I had to “colour between the lines” and keep it clean? In other words, keep sex out of it? After all, as a Christian, I'm aware that whatever I write must glorify God and be consistent with my beliefs.
So I had a dilemma. I could either write Christian or mainstream romance. After much prayer, I decided to write for the mainstream market, which I did. I was thrilled when it was accepted for publication with the first publisher I sent it to.
Intensive Care is my debut novel – a medical romance set in regional Australia. It touches on issues of infidelity, grief, abortion and loss, and focuses on the need to forgive before you can move on. It has plenty of medical scenarios, plenty of emotional moments and a happy ever after ending without my hero and heroine ending up beneath the bed covers.
It’s been warmly received so far and is currently sitting at #2 in it’s category on Amazon Australia (Western/Rural romance), but I’ve been challenged by some readers that the lack of sex in the book is unrealistic. And you know what? In hindsight, I tend to agree.
But what are your thoughts? Should Christian authors write romance with 'behind closed doors' sex scenes or leave sex out of it altogether?
Intensive Care has been published by Momentum, the digital imprint of Pan MacMillan Australia. It was released in January as an e-book and is available where all e-books are sold. Nicki has recently finished writing the follow up to Intensive Care, titled Emergency Response and has just started her next book in the series, Life Support.