Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Fluffy" fiction, tough issues?

The heartbreaking images and stories from the current refugee crisis have me praying, donating to the emergency appeal, and remembering Jesus's words:
“I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me...
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40 The Message)
As Christians, we're commanded to get involved. We can't stay passive bystanders. It's not always easy, when our resources and what we're able to offer can feel so insignificant compared to what's happening.

But Matthew records Jesus as saying this right after the parable of the talents. Maybe there's a reason for that? Maybe, God wants us to use everything we have in His service, no matter how small it seems to us.

So does that mean our writing too? Can we do anything to help with big issues through the stories we write? 

If I was a journalist or an author of gritty, realistic novels, clearly I could. But I write sweet Christian romance, a "fluffy" feel-good genre. I even have that in my author tag-line, my promise to readers : Feel-good inspirational romance to make you smile. A recent review referred to 'Sweet brain candy'. Eep!

I write for God, definitely. My mission with my writing is to show the extent of God's love for us. Can that stretch to dealing with tough real-life issues too, even in fluffy fiction?

I hope so! I don't think I do it perfectly, but with God's help, I try.

My Love in Store romance series is based around a London department store (think Selfridge's poor-relation frumpy spinster aunt). Yet just as many of the scenes are set in a nearby homeless shelter, or involve formerly homeless shelter residents. My characters have dealt with suicide, addiction, and debt. My last release was filled with disabled children, some severely disabled. My work-in-progress is about divorce. My next story will involve terminal cancer, a burned out medical missionary, and a shopaholic with an eating disorder. Sometime in the next two years, I'll have the interesting job of making a character with Asperger's syndrome, cerebral palsy, OCD, and a very nasty way with words a romantic hero.

And I aim to write light, uplifting happy-ever-after fiction!

How serious do you think we can get, when we write lighter genres? How best can we serve God with our books? I'd love to hear how other authors approach this in their writing, and how you feel about more serious issues appearing in lighter genre fiction as a reader?

Autumn Macarthur is an Australian writer of inspirational romance living near London with her very English husband and four spoiled rescue cats.

She loves reading, cooking, gardening, and writing deeply emotional stories to make you smile and remind you how big and wide and deep God’s love and forgiveness can be.
She loves hearing from readers so do get in touch on either Facebook or Twitter!

You can subscribe to her mailing list here.


  1. Thanks for allowing me to join the blog! My first "official" post :)

  2. Welcome aboard. I have no idea how to answer your question. When I'm in the mood for "fluff" I want to escape from the rain of disaster that shows up on the news, so don't get too serious on me. But, wounded characters make great heroes. I guess it's all about balance.

    1. That's so true Alice, balance is essential! I do always insist on a happy ending in my fiction :)

  3. Autumn, it sounds like you know how to blend lightness and substance into a divinely inspired novel. I have the same goal of writing happy ending mystery/romances with a grace sprinkled within the pages. This is also what I prefer to read.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  4. Your stories sound wonderful, Wendy! :)

  5. Welcome, Autumn. Great having you join us. And gutsy post to begin with. Well done. Sounds like your novels handle some gritty stuff. Everyday we're called to love and I guess we need to work out with God what that looks like for each of us.

    Looking forward to you next post.

    1. Thanks Ian!
      "Everyday we're called to love and I guess we need to work out with God what that looks like for each of us." This. Exactly!

  6. Hi Autumn, Welcome to ICFW :) I think it depends on the characters and their individual stories. Lighter stories can touch on big issues that surface organically during the story.

    1. That's key, isn't it, that it's authentic for the story, part of the characters. It's way too easy for issue-driven fiction to tip over into polemic or propaganda. Character-driven fiction won't. I never sit down and think, "I'll write a story about x issue." It's just as I write, the characters' issues become apparent.

    2. Meant to add- And then it's easy to wonder if it's too much,too heavy, if I should take that out or wind it back. Trusting that God gave us the characters and the issues He wants to appear in the story helps a lot!

  7. Dealing with real issues without becoming didactic is definitely a challenge, Autumn. All the best to you in your efforts to serve God in this way.