Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Which the Author is Taken to Task by a Librarian

I was going to blog today about my visit with a group of Woodridge friends and neighbors, which was a fabulous evening, thank you very much, but I was distracted by this message in the old inbox today:

As our church librarian I am always on the look out for new authors and new fiction for our shelves.  Ms. Dudley’s book was advertised as “new Christian fiction so ordered both of her books. I eagerly dived into “Mourning becomes Cassandra and I was not disappointed as the story line unraveled.  There were many circumstance where Cassandra used her faith and trust in the Lord to help her through difficult situations.  The book was very entertaining.  There was some profanity (could I black it out?), but it wasn’t long before the f-bomb was dropped and now I’m probably half way through the book and its been used 3-4 times.  We have young girls and little old ladies that use our library and I simply can’t use this book.  I would add that some of the romantic scenes leave little to the imagination.  I am a reader and will have no problem reading and finishing this book, but I am extremely disappointed that this book was promoted as Christian when it is a long way from being wholesome.

Personally, I like the book, but would not recommend it to my Christian friends. I can’t use it in our library.

Those of you who have come to any of my readings and book parties know that this reader is not the first to have these objections and most likely won't be the last, but, in addition to my response below, I was wondering how any of you handled it. If you recommended the book to someone else, especially if the person had a more conservative bent, did you forewarn them? Do you consider MBC and TLD to be Christian fiction? Why or why not?

Thank you so much for taking the time to write me! I appreciate your feedback. I absolutely agree that you should not carry the book in your church library because of the children and more conservative readers who would have difficulty with it. You will notice that I myself don't advertise it as Christian fiction because I think it falls into a no-man's land, bookwise: churchgoing main character who lives with and among non-churchgoing characters. (Authors and publishers cannot control what is written in Amazon reviews or how the book is "tagged." Some readers clearly lumped it in the Christian fiction category.)

Since I'm a pastor's wife, I do try to warn the unprepared that the book is PG-13, and I've found that those who have been forewarned are usually okay with what they find, but woe betide those who were not warned! (See "Gladys's" Amazon review, for example.)

As a writer, I did do some soul-searching about the language and research into possible workarounds. Some I discovered were: (1) Just saying the character "cursed," without any direct quotes; (2) substituting words or phrases no rough-around-the-edges teenager would be caught dead saying; or (3) silence the character. I felt that none of the workarounds would allow Nadina to speak for herself in a natural way, so I left her alone.

And I do apologize if the romantic scenes "left little to the imagination." I assume you refer to one particular scene--and my readers will probably know which one I'm referring to! One reader's cause for shutting a book is another one's reason to bend the page corner... I think for those who read solely Christian fiction, the scene is certainly too much, and for those who read all kinds of fiction it probably didn't raise an eyebrow.

Again, thank you for your feedback, and for posting it as an Amazon review, so that others might be forewarned and decide whether or not they feel comfortable with it. Since you did enjoy parts of the book, this might be a great opportunity to pass it along to a non-Christian friend!


Christina Dudley

Again--specifically--my question is whether or not you consider these books Christian fiction and whether or not you warn people. No need to feel defensive on my behalf!


  1. I would consider it Christian. I mean, I'd definitely "warn" non-Christians about its faith current, so that they wouldn't feel ambushed, whereas I probably wouldn't warn Christians about its secular content, because the content just seems realistic. But perhaps I am not churched enough!

  2. I have shared the book with several people. I tell them it is a modern Christian novel, in which all the characters are very true to type, and that there is some raw language in it, as is appropriate to the character using it. So far, all I've heard back has been, "What a great book! I can't wait to read the next one!"

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  4. It's too bad that the publishing industry is stuck with labels, because your books fall decidedly between the cracks. Nadina would not be believable if she spoke in any other way, but then the way she speaks seems to be shocking to devourers of Christian fiction. Give me the realism. The books are still filled with the power of living a life of faith.

  5. I can't add any more than what was added by the earlier comments. I did not "forewarn" my friend when I gave her a copy of MBC. The cursing was not gratuitous. Quite honestly, if Nadina hadn't sworn, she would have come off seeming much less real.

  6. I have recommended this book to many women who loved it just as much as I did. To be honest, I really appreciated how real Nadina's character was. If you've ever worked with kids like her, as I did for over 10 years, this is exactly how they are. For those of us that are Christians, we must know that everyone needs Jesus, including those that curse, etc, we have or should have, teens like Nadina in our churches that can relate to Nadina and might just see Jesus through this story, and by all means, we need to enjoy a great book! Thanks Christina for a book well done, for those of us that appreciated it.