Magazine Extra: How Deeanne Gist Went from Bad Girl to Good Girl

When you read our June feature on historical fiction author Deeanne Gist, you’ll learn all about her May release, Fair Play, which stars a heroine, a doctor at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair — a “man’s” job — and a hero who’s part 1980s alpha male and part Ryan Gosling. So we're pretty sure you're going to want to read it ASAP.

But there’s one story we didn’t have room to share with RT readers in the magazine. Gist recently told some RT editors that she was the “bad girl” of inspirational fiction before she crossed over to the mainstream market. What made her so naughty that her editor was fanning herself? She used too much “tongue”! Here’s the whole story from Gist:

The cover of Fair Play by Deeanne Gist

I first realized something was amiss after I sold my first book to an inspirational house. They told me they loved it and gave me a contract. We all signed on the dotted line. And then I got the revision letter.

There was a big, BIG section called “SWEARING” and another called “S.E.X.” (periods and all). They were rather long, lengthy sections that basically said to get rid of it. Problem was, I thought I already had. I’d originally written the book for the general market, but my characters were both Christian and had a Christian worldview — they also had sex, but they were married! Still, I hit the rewind button, closed the bedroom door and submitted it.

And they accepted it. Did I mention that part? Accepted it with nary a word about S.E.X. until I’d signed on the dotted line. But I was confused. I didn’t see exactly where the sex was because there was no consummation scene. Maybe their definition of sex was different than mine.

I called my editor. That was a very interesting conversation to have as a new author. But I had the best editor, ever, and she said just do the best I could to “tone things down” and we would tackle any problem spots in the line-by-line edits.

So I toned it down, did my other revisions and sent it in. I didn’t hear anything, so I assumed all was well. Then I got the line-by-lines with the comment bubbles — comment bubbles that said things like “Oh! Oh! Fanning myself! Too steamy! Don’t use the word tongue, Dee.”

I blinked. What? Don’t use the word tongue?

I went back and reread what I’d written and saw that the hero had grazed the heroine’s wrist with his tongue. (They were married. Did I mention that already?)

Anyway, I did what I was told and had him “taste” her wrist instead — which I thought was quite nice and romantic, actually. Still, that night, I told my husband about it and was completely stunned at his reaction.

“She’s absolutely right,” he said. “That’s … that’s just shocking!”

I studied him, trying to decide if he was kidding or not. It’s difficult to tell with him sometimes. Well, I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

About an hour later, we were passing each other in the hallway when he grabbed my forearm, held it like a piece of corn on the cob and gave it this gigantic lick. Bleck!

I jerked back, wiped my arm off on my shirt and said, “No, no, no. Not like that!”

This went on for almost two weeks before he finally let it be. But you can be sure that in every book after that I tried to sneak in the word tongue to see if she’d notice. And guess what? One slipped past her! No pun intended, of course.

And thus was the beginning of my reputation as the naughty girl of the inspirational market. But the good news is, I’ve crossed over to the general market and now, RT editors, I’m the very good girl of the general market.

We'll be back later, we're off to find that book with "tongue" in the text while we all wait for Fair Play to hit stores early next month. And for more love stories, chaste and otherwise, be sure to visit our Everything Romance page!