‘Wholesome’ is a word I often hear to describe my novels (when I hear or read comments back from my readers). Many women have noticed and appreciated the ‘general’ and family compatible ‘rating’ of my novels, and I verify that one of my goals, or even my comfort zone, is to write what some would label squeaky clean stories. Firstly, I like to write in a way that even very young ladies can enter and tread without fear of true embarrassment. Secondly, I wish to create heroines and heroes who offer examples worth following. You see, I wish to lift and elevate if I can.
I do believe that a story can be told, even a very realistic story, without getting into any graphic details that discomfort the sensitive in spirit. There can be challenges, pains, dangers, and even evil confronted within a story without delving deep into the gore of it. Contrastingly, there can be profound love in a marriage without going into private quarters with the Mr. and Mrs. We need not go there. What is private should be kept private. What is hellish can be hinted at. Many things can and should be left to the imagination, in my books.
I like to think of parables when I write. I like to try to weave a tale that suggests truths along the way. There is no need to bang anyone over the head with the obvious. Truth can be found if sought. Hidden treasures can be found in the midst of everything else. A story can be told that is simple on one level but that offers layers of depth beneath the surface. A child might see the simple truth in the story, but later on after some years of experience, could see that there was always more to the story than met the eyes at first.
As an example, Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ can be congealed down into the modern romance formula, and some might choose only to see that part of the story. The simple obvious romance part of the story is easy to see. But, there is so much more to that story. There is the man who chooses a wife for her beauty, youth and cheerful personality; only to discover in time that she is a silly woman and wastes his money. Mr. Bennet was dissatisfied with Mrs. Bennet along the way, and thus he began to shut himself in his study with his books to comfort and entertain him. This Jane Austen story suggests that the oldest Bennet daughters were reared with a little more care but by the time the younger girls were growing up, both parents had disengaged from their parenting duties to a degree. And so, we have the respectable Jane and Elizabeth, the questionable nun-ish Mary, the silly Kitty and the spoiled and naughty Lydia as a result. And thus is the stage set for the rest of the story: the oldest daughters ultimately make good marriages for themselves and the youngest daughter goes to ruin in a way, only partially saved by Mr. Darcy’s care and generosity relative to his love for his dear Elizabeth, and saving the good name of her and her family. To me, this Austen prize is so much more than a romance. It is a parable. And the main moral to the story is at least thus much: take care to raise your children well, and begin by choosing a goodly life companion.
The world needs more wholesome parables, and that is something that I try to offer.
Another intermittent rambling…