Episcopal Priest and Racy Vampire Romance Writer Tells All!
What the heck does a priest do? We teach, we preach, we have the same kind of boring paperwork and email to deal with as anyone else, and we spend time with people who need help—prayer, advice, company.
Here’s a little confession. Like pretty much everybody, priests try to get out of jury duty. We wear our clerical collars because usually the prosecutors will dismiss us—they think we will be too understanding, compassionate, or lenient toward the accused. They may be right. As folks that counsel people and hear confessions, priests know that individuals can be extraordinarily complicated. Nice people can hide dark secrets, people can do the wrong things for the right reasons, and can carry around grudges, grief and loss for ages.
I would never base a character on a person I know through my work, but my job as a priest sure gives me insight into human nature. I’m actually surprised more of my clergy colleagues don’t write fiction. To me, the combination of studying the Bible, which is basically full of ALL the best stories, and being with people during their most important moments (weddings, baptisms, funerals), is the greatest inspiration. I love people, and I find the world we live in fascinating, how could I NOT write stories about that?
I often joke that writing a romance novel is a lot like writing a sermon. You present a challenge, slowly work through it, then paint the picture of a happy ending and let people enjoy it. Come to mention it, the preaching formula I learned in seminary looks a lot like Kurt Vonnegut’s story graph—up, down, back up.
Some people assume there is a conflict between writing about vampires and being a priest, but I don’t agree. People of faith operate on the belief there is more to the world than what we see. It requires imagination to engage with what those mysteries might be. I also use my imagination to create paranormal worlds so that I can examine something “real” that I am interested in through fiction. The Blood Vine series explores our relationship to our roots and our homeland by telling the story of vampires who waste away when they are exiled from home.
Other people assume there is a conflict between being a priest and writing explicit sex scenes. And again, I disagree. I truly believe sex is a gift from God, and that romantic love is one of the best ways human beings can know what it means that God loves us. So to me writing erotic stories is a very holy pursuit, and it’s a great responsibility, just like being a priest. I aim to write about sex and love with sensitivity and reverence, even as I hope to entertain and arouse my readers. And I sprinkle in a good dose of humor because I can’t take myself too seriously while dabbling in all these hot-button issues 🙂
There is just something about a story—fictional people and an alternate world—that makes it safe to open our hearts to new ideas, refreshing possibilities and to feelings we guard against in real life. The best books might even transform us just a little bit, while we thought we were just enjoying a sexy vampire romance.