- by Patricia Rosemoor

Sin/sin/n. – [1] behavior that is against moral or religious norms; [2] immoral act such as lying, cheating, theft, murder; [3] original sin, as in Christian teaching of the seven deadly sins; [4] an act or omission against convention.

Sin has always been a topic of interest, especially to those in the arts. What conflict we glean from the seven deadly sins-pride, envy, lust, gluttony, anger and sloth.

In 1813, Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, a look at a society in which the sin of pride could keep a person from acquiring a mate.

1995 brought us Se7en, a movie in which a serial killer stages his kills using the seven deadly sins and in doing so takes the life of the protagonist’s mate.

Back in the late 90s, I decided to write a series called Seven Sins for Harlequin Intrigue. Perhaps too edgy for our reading audience then-or maybe it was that my protagonists rather than the villains were the sinners in question-only four of the books made it to the shelves.

Readers and movie goers never seem to tire of sin themes. Authors never tire of writing about them. Which is the case with a bunch of young writers I know well.

A little background.

I’ve been teaching Writing Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago for a dozen years. And through those years, I have run into some very talented students. But once the class was over, I rarely saw those students again. Unless, of course, they signed up for the other course, which many of my best students did.

The Fiction program at Columbia is literary-based at its core, with some genre courses as electives. Because there was no way for my students to workshop their genre novels once they’d developed them, written a couple of chapters and a synopsis, I came up with a plan to nurture their talent-I had a barbeque.

I invited a dozen former students (from the preceding two years) who I thought would finish their novels if they had a support system and told them their “entry fee” was a new scene of their novel-in-progress that they would have to read. I challenged them to start a support group which would include sharing work to get feedback. They accepted-and met in my backyard every month until the weather turned. Then they proceeded to meet at a local bar.

That was five years ago and the group has grown and members still meet nearly every month. A few of the writers have been published in novel-length fiction-books started in my classes. Other writers have diversified, finding other kinds of writing work. Some of the writers have moved away but keep in touch via the email link.

And via a project called SIN, A Deadly Anthology, published on September 1 by Avendia Publishing.

The challenge was to use sin as the theme of our short stories. No restrictions. What resulted was an interesting and inspiring mix of stories in various genres. Nurturing these emerging writers has been so rewarding. I’ve not only celebrated their successes with them, I’ve made good friends along the way.

To be eligible for a free copy of SIN, just comment–give us your thoughts on the attraction of SIN as a theme. The winner will be announced on Sunday.


  1. Ah, where would the world be without sin? And how nice it would be if we could all agree on exactly what sin is! With very few exceptions, what is considered sinful in one sector is not in another. Sin is one of the origins of great conflict, and simply by existing in whatever guise is a great boon to writers and artists.

    As in the case of your young writers, sin in one of its many guises was a good thing, bringing them together and keeping them together. Apparently sin, like good and love and other intangibles, can be many things to many people, and all of them different. Too deep a subject for me.

  2. Patricia, as you said, writers and those in the arts tend to be fascinated by the topic of sin–I think, in part, because the things associated with “sinning” are very human, very honest desires…impulses that are extremely motivational to our characters and make for interesting areas of conflict.

    Enjoyed the post! Looking forward to reading other replies as well :).

  3. It’s a sin there aren’t more teachers out there as dedicated and innovative and encouraging as you are.

    I’m way impressed. And how gratifying for you all! Brava, Patricia.

    Karen Tintori

  4. Patricia,

    What a rewarding result of your teaching work! How cool!


  5. Very cool, Patricia! Thanks for telling us about your students’ success. How many of them have stories in the anthology?

  6. Pati –

    !3 of the 15 stories were written by my students. Three of those students have published novels this year and/or last year. One of those students now has a major deal with Dutton after first being published by St. Martins.