The Write Editor

Editor's Spotlight

by Michelle Sutton

Deanne Gist

I met Deeanne Gist in September 2007 at the ACFW conference in Dallas, Texas. She was friendly and accommodating as you can see by her bright smile. Here is a picture of the two of us the night of the ACFW awards banquet. We had a rather lively discussion about her books earlier that day and the topic centered around pushing boundaries in CBA fiction, which she does an amazing job of accomplishing in all of her stories. To date I’ve read all of Deeanne’s books because the romances she writes are edgy, and that’s my favorite thing to read. Deeanne is a master at creating romantic tension between characters. I’ll let Deeanne tell you the story of how her writing career began…

I began reading secular romance at age sixteen. At the time, the majority of heroines were of high moral fiber. And though that bar crept lower and lower, it wasn’t until the last few years that the romance industry took a sharp turn away from the mainstream and began introducing blatant erotica into their romances. I became concerned about the youth of our country thinking that the decisions these heroines made were not only acceptable, but also something to strive for.

So the Lord challenged me to write romances that would appeal to readers who hadn’t yet graced the doors of Christian bookstores—romances that would illustrate characters making choices different from what mainstream offered, yet who still experienced a “happily ever after.”

To draw in those readers, I struggled with how to write in a relevant but inoffensive way. I don’t think it is necessary to be graphic, but to dismiss out of hand or to avoid our God-given sensual natures that attract us to our mates is not realistic or honest, even.

As a result, I don’t censure my characters. If they feel desire, I let them feel desire. If they have uncharitable thoughts, I let them have uncharitable thoughts. If they want to be willful, I let them be willful.

I find, though, that I must be conscious of the Spirit’s prompting while I am writing. If my character is going to do or say something that pushes the envelope, then I have to feel at peace about it. So I pray. I pray that the Lord will give discernment to me, my editor, and all the influencers at Bethany House.

And the Lord has been faithful. I have heard from women all over the world, from young teenagers to great-grandmothers, many who are Christians, many who are not. Some have recommitted their lives to Christ, others have simply said they’d like to further explore this genre called “inspirational novels.”

I set out to achieve my goal with my “Dee-sized” plan. But when I gave it to the Lord, He initiated a God-sized plan. And so I continue to pray Hebrews 13:21: that God will equip me with everything good for doing His will and that He works in me what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.