Kelly Mortimer

Kelly Mortimer of Mortimer Literary Agency represents clients in both the ABA and the CBA. Kelly gives each client personal attention, including editing. She’s in the top 10 of the Publisher’s Marketplace Top 100 Dealmakers - Romance Category, a two-time nominee for the American Christian Fiction Writers “Agent of the Year” Award, and her agency is Romance Writers of America recognized. Kelly is also President and CEO of Underdog Press.

Readin’ on the “Edge”

...there’s also room for more, dare I say, realistic stories...

What controversy is hot? The high price of gasoline? The upcoming presidential election? What color I should dye my hair? Nope. Try Edgy Christian/Inspirational Fiction, and why we should, or shouldn’t, read it.”

Many say Christian books should be lily-white; others say real people aren’t, so why should characters and their situations be? Slap me around, but I’m in the “bring it on” camp.

So, what constitutes this edginess everyone is so edgy about? IMO (Yes, I know I forgot the “H” for humble, for obvious reasons.), an edgy novel isn’t crass, graphic, or violent, although viewing The Passion of the Christ certainly rocked me. I see an edgy inspirational as adding more facets to a diamond: giving a character more depth, allowing more variety in plots, and ultimately giving readers more choices.

We Jesus-lovin’ guys and gals are human. We feel emotions and struggle like everyone else. Boxing characters into a corner or refusing subject matter as too racy is cruel and unusual punishment. (No, I’m not trying to make light of real cruel and unusual punishment, people!) I believe it’s a form of censorship. Print it, and let the reader choose what they’d like to read.

I’m not suggesting we rid ourselves of absolutely, positively, squeaky-clean fiction. There’s a market for it. But there’s also room for more, dare I say, realistic stories. Plots that push the envelope. Characters who say and do things some might not consider Christianlike. Heavens! (Oops, sorry. Some consider that cursing.)

Lemme get more specific. Take Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll’s upcoming release for Underdog Press, Torrents of Destruction (October, 2008). Not a church in site. Not a preacher among the cast of characters. Plot rife with crimes like money laundering, mayhem, and murder. Yikes! Sounds downright dangerous. But it ain’t. No blood and guts. No horse head hiding under the sheets. Torrents is about an undercover FBI agent trying to sniff out the guilty party on a river rafting trip. The group’s guide is a sassy, pretty gal who lost her faith in God. Here’s an “edgy” excerpt:

Hunter swallowed back his reaction to her silhouette as she stood in front of the fireplace. Unlike the lithe supermodels of today, Katie’s figure had curves—in all the right places. Her upper arms, as well as her calves and thighs, were muscular, with no sign of flab. The black Body Glove wetsuit looked as if it’d been sprayed on her body, ending just below her knees. It seemed to accentuate every nuance of her toned build.

He clenched his jaw, struggling to keep his thoughts pure—it’d be best for him to treat her as one of the guys. Hunter nearly snorted. As if he could think of the fiery woman as one of the guys. He let out a long breath. This was his job, his career, and he couldn’t afford any distractions.

Father, I need some help here. I know what You’ve called me to do, and I want to do Your will. But this woman is stirring emotions in me that I can’t deny. From the way she’s protective
of her brother to the gentle way she treats her dog, she makes me want to think of the future—a future with a woman by my side, and I know this isn’t the time or place.

See, that wasn’t so bad. Did it offend you to read about a healthy man looking at a woman with appreciation for her figure? Have her stir his emotions? Have him seek the help of God? What’s so edgy about that?

One more. Let’s consider a book already published: Julie Lessman’s A Passion Most Pure (Revell, 2008). Check it out:

He leaned forward. “I know you love me. Can you deny it?”

She didn’t speak, and he jumped up and rounded the table, gripping her arms to lift her to her feet. When she wouldn’t look at him, he grabbed her chin and forced her. “Look at me! Can you deny you love me?”
“I don’t love you.”

“You’re lying, Faith. I would have thought better of you than that.”

“Well, don’t!” she screamed, “I’m not better than that. You’ve said your apologies, Collin, now let me go.”

“I know you love me. Don’t you think I can feel it every time I touch you?” He pulled her to him, and she cried out before his lips silenced her with a savage kiss. She struggled to pull free, but he only held her tighter, the blood pounding in his brain. His mouth was everywhere—her throat, her earlobes, her lips—and he could feel the heat coming in waves as she melted against him. She was quivering when he finally let her go.

“You love me, Faith,” he said quietly. “You know that, and I know that. Your heart belongs to me, and nothing can ever change that fact––not Charity, not you and not your god.”

Anyone out there fainting? Anyone think that scene isn’t in the realm of possibility? Okay, so it’s possible, but it hurts your sensibilities to read it? If so, plenty of published books have the guy simply walk away. Yawn.

Why some people make scathing comments about these so-called edgy books is beyond me. I don’t think we should refer to them in that sense, but everything gets a tag nowadays. Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion (especially me), but if publishers won’t print these stories, some of us won’t have the chance to enjoy them.

Robin Miller