Dum, dum, duuuum!
Yeah, it's scary. I mean, it's fiction. By definition it isn't gospel truth. But in contemporary YA, it should reflect the real world, for the most part, as it is. My novel, FAKE, takes place somewhere I have never been to. The character's family is of a religion I do not belong to. And while I know enough about both the location and the religion to write pretty confidently and truthfully, I do not know certain, very specific details.
Google is my friend.
But where does "research" cross a line into utter time-wasting distraction? Is it really vitally important that every speck of the story be grounded in absolute truth, or is it okay to take a few liberties? I'm obviously trying to depict the religion as sensitively as possible, and I'm trying not to cast it in a totally negative light (there's a lot about this religion I respect), but when the story is about religion-gone-wrong, is it okay to write it the way it needs to be written? Should I really worry about offending an entire group of people? Do I care whether or not the book is banned?
My heart tells me no, I shouldn't worry about offending people, and no, I shouldn't give a damn if they want to ban it. But my head tells me it's a valid worry and to get all the facts right that I can.
What do you think? Does anybody else write about controversial topics and worry about censorship, or just plain getting stuff wrong?