My mailbag

Once again I’ve heard from a reader. As always, I hold my breath to see whether she has a question, comment, or complaint.

I started reading “Ransom River” and it already is very exciting.

Very exciting sounds positive.

I really want to read the whole thing to see how it ends.

This message is putting a smile on my face.

However, I cannot because you use “Jesus Christ” as curses.


Being a devout Christian who loves action and mystery stories, puts me at odds with many authors who think they have to use God, or Jesus Christ for their curse words. I am so very sorry but I cannot read any more of your books.

Okay, then. I told her to have a good weekend.

This is hardly the first time a reader has complained that characters in my novels speak profanely. I’ve heard, “Nobody needs to talk that way.” And, “You were such a good Catholic girl. What happened?”

Listen, I try not to cuss directly in people’s faces. But when I write about a sailor in a bar fight, he’s going to talk like a sailor in a bar fight. And when a character is running for his life, I cut him some slack. Also: If I still wrote like a twelve-year-old Catholic schoolgirl, something would be very wrong with me.

But I admit I’m surprised that a reader has declared herself aligned against me on religious grounds because my characters say, “My God.” And if she blacklists every author who writes those words, she’s going to have trouble finishing many mysteries and thrillers. Much less most of modern American and British literature.

I’m also bemused that she rejected the book because it has cops and crooks and hostages cursing, but the shotgun murders in the novel don’t rate a mention.

C’est la vie.

5 responses to “My mailbag

  1. Oh, for Christ’s sake . . .

  2. Don’t go looking for snakes because you might find it. When you do find it, don’t get made because it was there.

    We all have something that sets us off. I find it odd that people who are opposed to reality in fiction are the same people who are always surprised when it happens.

  3. I can sympathize because I grew up in a family of secular Jews and ex-Catholics. Although Jewish culture, humor, food, history prevailed, the curses of the formerly Catholic side of the family were embedded in my unconscious.
    So, here I am, known to have a Jewish background, and yet “Jesus Christ!” or “For Christ’s sakes!” will emit involuntarily from my mouth and often while in groups.
    A friend asked me years ago, how a “nice, Jewish girl” can yell “Jesus Christ!” with regularity. I said that my nice, formerly Catholic father used these terms with regularity and my sibling and I were imprinted. We can’t help it!

  4. How sad to have nothing to read but Agatha Christie maybe Curious George? No, Curious George is naked.

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