Never discuss religion or politics at a family gathering. That common-sense rule took on a greater urgency in recent years as the nerves and anger level in the country percolated upward. In a time of tribes and divisions the last thing an author wants to do is alienate folks.
I never discuss either when wearing my professional hat (in the form of my pseudonym). You might catch me expressing my faith when I’m out and about on social media in my real-world persona, but largely in general terms and you are unlikely to catch me talking politics. There are a few social justice issues that get a strong reaction from me, but because my impassioned positions fall on both sides of the political spectrum, they tend to confuse people.
Having said all that, faith is actually a great well of joy, creativity, and positive direction in my life. I find myself wondering how my faith is — or isn’t —reflected in my writing.
I write historical romance. My Regency and Victorian characters by and large attend church because people did. That’s comfortable to me. I don’t mention denomination often, but my English characters are vaguely Church of England. The French heroine of my last book, notably, was Catholic. It mattered in the plot. Her closest friend was Muslim. I may describe a character praying at some critical point, if that character’s emotional arc calls for it. It is simply a part of who they are. It isn’t something I impose over the top.
However, I can’t keep my values from my prose. My heroes and heroines reflect them, either by demonstrating certain traits, or by struggling to develop or practice them. Integrity. Honesty. Fidelity. Loyalty. Respect all people’s dignity, beliefs, and opinions. Respect for human life. Humanist values, certainly, but ones that also arise from my personal faith life.
The same values apply to setting and historical background. I can’t whitewash the era in which my stories occur. My characters of necessity struggle with the issues they are thrust into. I don’t write generic people. I try to create fully rounded human beings, which means saints and sinners, great virtue and vice, weakness as well as strength. The joy is pulling them into the light by the end of the story. To do that, I have to follow the light I’ve been given.
But I don’t discuss religion. Or politics. Honest.
Caroline’s latest Soul Mate publication is The Price of Glory, which tells the story of one man’s pursuit of knowledge that will bring him fame and respect, only to find it upended by a woman determined to serve the people of Egypt as a hakima, a healer. Neither has any idea where this journey will take them when they embark down the Nile toward Nubia and its mysteries, ancient and modern. Neither expects to face intrigue, unrest, and insurrection, to be forced to marry to escape death—or to succumb to amorous enchantment under a desert moon.