The Problem of Classification

My sister and I were having a conversation today, and I mentioned I was hoping to offer Joy and her sequel at a church bazaar this autumn. As the discussion continued, we talked about how difficult it is sometimes to peg a label on a novel like Joy. For example, being a work of Catholic fiction, there wasn’t much choice but to put it under Inspirational Fiction. Being a love story, Christian Romance also applied. But it seemed to me a little banal to put Joy there, as if the product of my sweat, time and heart suddenly got put on the shelf of the Pink Sugar Department. All sweet and no substance (note: not all Christian Romance or Inspirational Fiction belongs on this shelf, either). It was my hope that I could write a decent story but avoid the Pink Sugar.  My sister summed it up for me a bit.

SHE: “Yeah, it’s hard talking about your book because once you say ‘oh, it’s Inspirational Fiction,’ I always feel like I need to add, ‘But it’s real, it’s not Hallmark.'”

ME: [thinking of the Romance label] “Nor is it a Harlequin.”

SHE: “Totally. Nothing starting with H need apply.”

I love sisters. Mine makes me laugh when I need it.

So why did I write Catholic Fiction in the first place? Because I’m Catholic, for one. Because we Catholics need books to read, and the realm of Catholic fiction is sparse. I’m not saying that Joy is the solution to that; please God, don’t let me be that naive. Are my books going to be for Catholics only? No. I already know of some non-Catholics who were gracious enough to give Joy a try and enjoyed the read. I do not separate my faith from my writing because I believe one’s faith should permeate their life. So my characters are Catholic, but they are also human characters. The hero has a human fault. He’s not the tormented demon lover that mainstream fiction seems to relish at the moment (and don’t get me on the subject of Vampires, please), and the things Joy faces in her life are the sort of things that meet up with you or me in everyday life. That is precisely my intent. You won’t find me writing, I hope, anything that couldn’t feasibly occur out there. Some Catholics write harrowing apocalyptical novels, others great and amusing fairy-tale adaptations. I know; I’ve read them. There are Catholic thrillers, Catholic whodunnits, and even apparently a new Catholic novel about philosophy. My niche is the Everyday. I just only wish there was a category label for that.

🙂

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