I once had a reader ask how I balance my religious beliefs with the demands of the romance/fantasy market. And I told her I did so by inventing my own religion.
But as I developed the romantic fantasy Mystic Isle series, I discovered even inventing a religion is tricky. I may not believe in organized religion, but I still have a strong personal faith and part of that faith believes the Ten Commandments are an essential building block of civilization. Attempting to avoid the vernacular so I don’t “take the name of thy Lord in vain” becomes difficult since people throughout time invariably invoke the name of the deity in times of trouble, and usually not in prayer.
I thought I could avoid that in my series by giving my Mystic Isle characters several deities and referring to them in general as “the gods.” As I progressed further into the books, though, real religious issues started popping up, and I had to determine if I needed to be talking about the Gods and They, capital letters, to offer respect even if they’re made up gods, or if religious readers would be offended by my offering respect to pretend gods.
If I could waffle over just capitalization, can you imagine what I went through when my Catholic and Protestant protagonists ran up against my multiple-god-worshipping Mystic people? Just dealing with wedding ceremonies had my eyes crossing. Worse yet, since the books are set during the French revolution, the French government had pretty much abolished the church. In my second book, I had my agnostic French heroine thrown together with my high priest from the island. Want to try writing those arguments?
Considering political correctness while I write would make me even crazier than I am. I simply write my characters as they need to be. I always love a good argument, and even I can argue with myself about religion, so proselytizing my questionable faith isn’t happening either. My books are stories I have to tell about a time and place in history and characters I want to explore. If those characters have feelings about religion, that’s fine, because religion expresses a great deal about a culture and time period. I won’t pull punches because of the market, but on the other hand, unless religion is part of the book’s conflict, it won’t take a major place in my story. In my stories, that generally means religion will have a role along with history, costumes, and customs. I have no more difficulty writing about it than I do about garments like farthingales and knee stockings.
I know there are people who have objected to the Harry Potter books because some readers believe that “magic” is sinful. Since I don’t believe in magic any stronger than the magic of a baby’s cry or a dramatic sunset, I don’t understand their rationale and don’t concern myself with whether something that doesn’t exist can be evil. The characters in my Magic and Mystic books go to church, believe in their religion, and just happen to have “gifts” beyond the normal. That they’re God-given gifts is completely reasonable to them, and to me.
Now, if you want to start a discussion about the gender of God, we may be in trouble…
The Mystic series is available in e-book format and the first book of the Magic series is available in both print and e-book at all major distributors. EVIL GENIUS, my BVC mystery, has everything except religion in it and is available in all electronic formats at http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Patricia-Rice/Novels/