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Controversial Topics in Fiction

fighting politicsThere’s that old adage out there that states, “Never discuss religion or politics if you want to be liked.”

Well – the truth is I don’t write just to be liked.

I began writing for me, and when I discovered other people liked what I was doing – I began writing for them. I know that sounds self-serving, but it is what it is. I have come to learn over the years that my work tends to attract primarily open-minded, well-educated, free-thinkers who are adept explorers of the darkness and the fringe. It doesn’t matter what I write whether books about the occult, paranormal mysteries, sword and sorcery fantasies, or erotic romances — I write on the fringe. I write stuff the mainstream is afraid to publish “as is” because it’s too dark, or too vulgar, or too sexual, or too opinionated.

I learned early in my career that you can’t please all of the people all  of the time. I am constantly writing about alternative religion, and writing characters who practice alternative religions. I also tend to write characters who have their own political views.

Let me state right now (publicly) that THE ONLY recurring character I write who probably shares my politics is Elizabeth Tanner (OTS series). She doesn’t fit a conservative or liberal mold and tends to piss off both sides of the political spectrum – kind of like I do. I also tend to do the same thing with religion. I piss off both the religious right and left, and have since the late 90’s. ::shrug:: What can I say? I’m spicy like that.

Some of my characters are really liberal (more liberal than I could ever be – like Amy Myers in Training Amy and her equally liberal bosses), and some of my characters are so ultra conservative they would make a tea partier proud (like Detective Michael Katz, Master Hildolf, and Senator Steve Mitchell).  Yes, sometimes I poke fun or mock, but I challenge a lot of ideas in my writing — even my own. I challenge my own comfort zone all the time. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t challenge my readers’.

I also tend to write my contemporary stories in the current political climate. And currently — the political climate is turbulent. This shapes the society and culture in which the story takes place. My characters are a product of the society and culture in which they live.

coexistFor me, politics are just as much a part of my characters and their thought process as their religion is. So when I bring up these things in my writing, it’s not that I’m trying to spread my politics, but instead give my characters more depth. A character’s political affiliation or religion may shape how they react to certain situations, or how they view others. It’s kind of important to know where your characters stand. Where they come from. After all, you’re not likely to find a God fearing Christian character participating in group sex with a priest, and if (s)he is — then that’s likely going to cause some internal conflict. Like guilt. Yes?

A woman character who takes another woman as a lover is likely not going to vote Republican if she believes in same-sex-marriage. A character who practices Witchcraft is not going to vote for an ultra conservative political candidate who believes witches should be burned. Likewise, a twenty-year-old atheistic Satanist character who believes in the free market and that everything should be privatized isn’t going to vote Democrat and may make a snarky comment about all Democrats being communists who want to redistribute the wealth. See where I’m going with this?

So please know that when I write a liberal or a conservative character and their perspective isn’t flattering to a reader’s personal worldview, I’m not trying to start an argument, or push my personal agenda, or piss anyone off. Far from it. Though if you find my fictional characters and their politics DO piss you off, you might ask yourself why you’re so sensitive to what a fictional character thinks.

While I love my readers, I realize I can’t please everyone and I also realize not everyone is going to agree with my characters whether it be the character’s choices, actions, religion, or even politics. And if I’ve pissed a reader off by having a character make a crude observation, do something stupid,  or because one of my characters said something offensive – good. At least I elicited an emotional response, which is what books should do.  I make no apologies.

If you’re looking for books that don’t include characters who have religion or personal politics – stay away from mine. You’re not the type of reader I write for.  It’s that simple.

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at

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