Well, not hot like…you know…, but if you’re writing Christian fiction it seems to be a sure ticket to big sales. Since the first Amish novels came out 10 plus years ago with Beverly Lewis’s publication of The Shunning, this uniquely Christian genre has seen nothing but growth, even in a down book market.
As far as romance novels go, you’re likely to get more sparks by rubbing two Amish quilts together. The novels feature chaste love, family values and biblical virtue with a decidedly Protestant mind frame. The appeal for readers living in the hectic, pressured, modern life is the chance to escape into a traditional, self-reliant, setting with strong family values. These novels aren’t working out a character’s sexual identity, marital infidelities or teenage sexting and binge drinking. I get that, I totally do; and if I can’t live the agrarian life, reading about it is the next best thing. As an Orthodox Christian it would be fabulous to have the same literary options available to me; to read well-written (I emphasize ‘well written’) novels about the lives of Orthodox Christians.
Converts to Orthodoxy have a gut love for tradition and changelessness, and often fall head-over-heels with the romanticized, traditional lifestyle of historically Orthodox cultures. There are all too many well-meaning Orthodox converts who believe that to live the Gospel means to live it as 18th century Russian or Greek peasants. These are the Barsanuphias Smiths and Anastasia Jones’ of our generation. It’s a beautiful deception; it’s not reality. That said, I don’t see anything wrong with using the imagination in a safe Orthodox Christian themed romance novel. It’s got to be better than the ‘porn by any other name’ mainstream romance novels out there.
I see two basic themes for our new Orthodox Christian romance novels:
(1) Serf Fiction – Happy peasants, working in the fields each day, singing cheerful peasant songs in the warm sun. Of course they stop to pray the Hours whenever they hear the parish church bells ring. At the end of a long, but fulfilling day, they go home to their quaint little cottage, and have some family time. The peasant’s teenage daughter, beautiful but pious, has been carrying a secret love for the landowning noble’s equally handsome, pious son. After many trials, their love overcomes all and they marry. The couple become reknowned for their charity and both become monastics in their old age.
(2) Convert Fiction – Here’s a story that proves long-suffering love triumphs over ignorance and heresy. Beautiful and faithful Protestant or evangelical girl (her father is of course a hell-fire and brimstone preaching minister) falls in love with a handsome, strong Orthodox boy from a large, ethnically inclined family. The beautiful girl must overcome the cruel, unbibilical objections and vindictive meddling of her family to wed her true love and find salvation in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The sequel deals with the birth of the first grandchild and the baby’s baptism into the Faith. You think this is melodramatic twaddle? Unfortunately, it happens more than you’d like to think.
Hello Conciliar Press or Light & Life Publishing. If you’d like to get me a book deal, I’d happily become the Beverly Lewis of Orthodox Christian fiction. I look good in a scarf, I’m an Orthodox traditionalist, I’m well-versed in the tribulations of a convert life, and I can appreciate a good love story. It’s a guaranteed bestseller because there’s nothing women find sexier than a Godly man with strong faith and a strong character (even better if he’s wearing black………seminarian cassocks of course).