Are you afraid of Pagans?

My upcoming novel, Throwing Stones, is a book that might challenge readers on a couple of fronts. First, like all my books, it revolves around a gay teen and, yes, his love interest. Second? Well, although all my books include some aspect of religion or religious practice—either metaphorically or front-and-center—this one will present some readers with a new challenge.

My dentist loves my books (no, he's not gay; he just loves my books), and his staff members know it. Last time I was there, his bookkeeper asked me what I was working on now. I said, "I'm writing a story about a teen who wants to reconcile his family and the people in his town with a group of Pagans who..." I stopped before I could finish my sentence, because her eyes had gone wide. Very wide. But not, I would have said, with interest. It was the kind of surprise that borders on fear. The word "Pagans" shocked her.