The juxtaposition of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" with the mention of Jesus certainly has the potential to offend people.
But I want readers to know what they're getting into when they open my book.
It is a "Come to Jesus" story. It's just not the kind of "Come to Jesus" story you will find coming from the traditional Christian publishing companies. It's got a couple of well-timed f-bombs, lots of drinking and drug use and one seriously messed up extramarital hook-up. (By messed up, I don't mean graphic. I mean...well, you read it and you'll understand what I mean.)
The big-name CBA publishers don't allow those types of things, especially from debut authors.
Disclaimer: I'm not bashing Christian publishing houses or the writers they publish. At. All. I'm a huge fan of Mary DeMuth, Lisa Harris, Rosslyn Elliott and many others in the Christian genre. I have a great deal of respect for all artists who adhere to such parameters when the world seems to be pulling everyone the opposite direction.
I get the idea that sinful behavior shouldn't be glorified in fiction. I get that those who read Christian fiction don't want to read about that type of behavior (even though the scenes of drug and alcohol use and the extramarital affair are never framed in a positive light).
On the other end of the spectrum, the majority of secular publishers wouldn't touch a debut novel with such a heavy Christian undertone.
So why wouldn't I pick a side and strip TLR2H down to suit either the Christian market or the secular market?
I could give you the simple answer: I didn't feel like it.
But that answer simplifies my decision to a ridiculous level. The answer is actually a lot more complex than that.
It goes back to the oldest piece of advice out there for writers: Write What You Know.
Here's what I know:
TLR2H deals with the heartache that arises out of addiction.
My husband is a recovering alcoholic. (He's working on his 10th year of sobriety, which is no small feat by any means.)
I watched him endure the prison sentence that is addiction for a long, long time. At the same time, his family members -- myself included -- endured the emotional hell that accompanies watching a loved one struggle with addiction.
Writing TLR2H served as a mental escape for me when real life began to overwhelm me. Writing about Heather's struggles with alcohol and cocaine allowed me to gain a greater insight into what might have been going on in my husband's head.
At one time, I wanted to be published by a publishing house, and I sent out a few queries. But the more I learned about what I might be asked to do with this story, I decided to forgo traditional publication.
I couldn't imagine stripping down the story to decaf coffee and gosh darnits. That's not an accurate portrayal of an addict or what the life of an addict is like.
And I rather would've died than removed the spiritual element of the story because I know, in my own life, my family would've wilted had it not been for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the salvation found through the blood of Christ.
Not everyone believes in God. I get that.
Not everyone tolerates cussing or reading about sinful behavior. I get that, too.
But there are a whole lot of people out there who have walked the very dark path because of addiction. I wanted to shine a little light their direction with this story.
Based on the feedback I've received, I'm glad I made the decision I did.
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Kathryn Harris is a journalist, a weekend blogger, a wife, a mother of two and the author of "The Long Road to Heaven," a novel about finding faith and forgiveness in the aftermath of addiction.