There is a fine line between religion and audience, I'm discovering.
Mostly I've been enlightened by my editor, and it's been a bit difficult to accept. I believe her. Everything she said made sense. It's just sad to me that that's the way it is.
When I started writing Perilous, I was writing it for an LDS audience. (A Mormon audience, for the layman.) Specifically, LDS teens. I always had hopes that the novel would be so excellent that non-LDS readers would also pick it up and find an interest in it, even though the characters were from an obscure, usually unpopular religious denomination.
Turns out I struck out on both counts. Before even offering me a contract, WiDo expressed to me concerns that the topic was too controversial to offer to an LDS audience. My willingness to turn it into a mainstream thriller was a condition of the contract. Of course I agreed. The more I get to know my editor, the more I trust her foresight.
But while Perilous was too controversial to be LDS, it was also too religious to be mainstream.
Are you starting to see how I struck out?
So we've been making some big changes while still preserving the integrity and soul of the novel. We've gone from four LDS characters to two. The hardest part for me has been removing Jaci's inner thoughts that center around God and prayer. And removing the religious discussions. As my editor pointed out, people will be suspicious and think I am pushing my religion on them. She's right, and so those things must go. But I feel like I'm letting my LDS readers down (because I know that I will have some). They are going to read Jaci's actions and think, "What's wrong with this girl? Is she religious or not? Why doesn't she pray more? Why does she always rely on her own strength to get things done?" Because that's what I would think. Don't worry, we're leaving enough prayers in for the readers to know she prays.
Kristine (my editor) hopes there will come a day when the LDS denomination is accepted as readily as the Catholics or Lutherans or Baptists, or anyone else. For now, though, just knowing an author is LDS makes many people shy away from reading their books (I won't tell anyone that James Dashner and Brandon Mull and Stephenie Meyer are LDS, to name a few). I certainly don't want having LDS characters to be the kiss of death.
On another note entirely, Kurt Chambers interviewed me here. If you want to find out more about me or just want a good laugh, check it out.