I never intended The Silk Merchant of Sychar to be 'edgy'. It always surprises me when a reader tells me they loved the book and adds: "... it's rather racy isn't it?"
So I was again surprised, and super happy, to see the delightful Narelle Atkins highlight The Silk Merchant of Sychar as an example of 'edgy' on a recent Australian Christian Writers blog. Narelle handles the issue well, acknowledging that readers come from a range of backgrounds that influence their sensitivity to issues. She has clearly considered this when writing her own inspirational romance books.
I dislike reading books with explicit sex or foul language. To me it shows a lack of creativity and finesse - like whacking a fly with a sledgehammer. As a reviewer for the Historical Novel Society I am constantly disappointed at the novels I am sent. The blurb sounds great, the writing draws me in and then - bang! The sledgehammer hits and I am reading words and scenes that make me feel like I'm sinking in sludge.
Yet sometimes a story calls for those risqué situations - people swear in stressful situations and a woman who has had five husbands would be hard pressed to completely avoid the bedroom!
I deliberated the pros and cons of the bedroom door - would it be open or closed? Most Christian writing, especially if it is to be accepted in the USA, needs the bedroom door firmly closed. My choice to open the door of Leah's chamber has sabotaged my potential market of Christian readers in the USA but to have closed the door would have sabotaged the story.
I never intended this story to be confined to Christians. Indeed, my weekly writing group to whom I will be forever grateful for their honest critique, friendship and help, was Christian-free except me.
Despite being based on an event in the Bible, I wrote this story to appeal to people of any faith or no faith. Conflict over religion and race is as rife now as it was then. So too conflict in marriage - and out of marriage.
Is The Silk Merchant of Sychar edgy? You will have to decide for yourself. It was not something I focused on. My focus, as I wrote, was on two things: making it fast paced and full of action so I wouldn't get bored writing it; and ensuring that it was biblically and historically as accurate as possible.
Narelle's great graphic at the top of this post says it best: Leah's honour did not depend on a husband, a quiver of children or a purse full of shekels. It depended on the man she met at the well. So too this book.