05/21/2009 12:21 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Should Novelists Keep Their Political Opinions to Themselves?

Recently, a concerned reader responded to one of my Facebook status updates where I posed a question wondering if Nancy Pelosi was being used as a distraction by the GOP. I believe the reader was genuine when she expressed a concern that I might be ticking off half of my reading public, even though I was only asking a question.

In part, I not only appreciate and understand what she is saying, but I'd like to think I'm more than a novelist since I often write about politics and religion, as well as have published an advice book for authors. I believe I am in great company with other novelists who often fictionalize topics that inspire them and some of those topics can be controversial. That said, this reader went on to warn me about other writers who were boycotted by some offended people who walked out of their talk, which naturally hurt their book sales. That's a shame, but it doesn't change my feeling that I must sell out or shut up in order to sell some books. For me it's about encouraging open dialogue. If that offends some possible readers, then so be it. After all, not everyone is going to like what I have to say, whether it's in the form of a novel or blog. Bear in mind, though, that my status updates on Facebook, and Twitter for that matter, are often jaunty, innocuous and sometimes even funny, if I say so myself. Occasionally, though, I do comment on the hypocrisy of religion, unethical politicians or how the media fails the public. Most often, though, I try to keep slander and name-calling out of my criticisms, but my analysis alone can be offensive to some. Nevertheless, whether I am writing fiction or not, I refuse to allow the fear of angering someone stop me from exploring a character's flaws, asking difficult questions or proffering an opinion.

I may not ever get rich from my writing, but the good news so far is that there hasn't been a demand for my head.