So, there is an expectation in a lot of quarters that Fantasy novels must include intoxicated characters, foul-mouthed characters, overwhelmingly depraved and/or bloodthirsty characters, and possibly scantily clad characters behaving inappropriately. If you walk down the aisle of a bookstore and glance at the covers of books in the Fantasy section, this becomes apparent.
Did Tolkien stoop to this level? Did he sensationalize his works to bring in readers? Nope. As a Christian, it is very important to me to avoid going down the path of prurience, and I see Tolkien as a great model in that regard.
I am not sure where the expectation of fantasy fare being prurient comes from, but it’s just not good. I was present when a friend of mine had a conversation with one of his buddies about how he didn’t like the gratuitous sex etc. in a major author’s work, and when another mutual friend showed up, the buddy attempted to sum up my friend’s position by saying “Those books are too mature for <my friend>.” The irony is that the books are too immature.
If you, as an author, don’t understand that love does not equal sex and sex does not equal love, you are immature. I have worked hard to ensure that my writing is something I could proudly let my kids read as soon as they are old enough, while still making it captivating enough to grab a 40, 50, 60, or 70 year old and make them not want to put the book down.
Did I manage to include love in my stories without sex? Yes indeed. Did I manage to convey anger and frustration without swearing? You bet. Did I manage to portray celebrations of victory and life without intoxication? Yep. Did I make readers fear my bad guys without graphic descriptions of their evils? I believe so (this is where I have gone closest to the line).
How do we make things better for our collective kids going forward? Well, we as authors write stories that don’t glorify crassness and we as consumers avoid things that wallow in worldliness. I am doing my part. Will you?