Sunday, June 7, 2009

Christian Fantasy Is Rising!!!

When I was at the writer's conference, I asked people what they thought Christian fantasy publishing would look like in the future. Most said a variant of, "It won't be as popular as other genres, but it will rise a bit."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are already many Christian fantasy/sci-fi/spec fiction stories being published. One of my best friends, Mary, has had a fantasy poem, "The Knight On the Old North Shore" published with Mindflights. I don't particularly like Mindflights, because they tend to publish edgier/weirder stuff than I like to see from a Christian publication. However, the important thing is that it's OUT THERE.
I know an editor named Jeff Gerke started Marcher Lord Press, which is a small POD publishing company specializing in Christian fantasy--once again, they seem, from what I've looked at on the website, to publish more edgier stuff.
I also researched it yesterday online and discovered that there's more Christian fantasy out there than even I thought--however, most people get fed up with traditional publishers not accepting fantasy, and decide to self-publish it.
But there is hope yet!! I know for mainstream Christian fiction, there's a trend toward fantasy especially in the children's fiction market. Sharon Hinck's The Sword of Lyric series is the only fantasy that NavPress, to date, has published. (And I personally love the middle one in the series, The Restorer's Journey. Someday on Shelfari I'll write a good review on it). Wayne Thomas Batson (Door Within Trilogy), Brian Davis (Oracles of Fire), and Donita K. Paul (The DragonKeeper Chronicles) are all teen/young adult fantasy writers with a Christian viewpoint, and Donita and Wayne have been published by two big Christian companies (Thomas Nelson and Waterbrook). And some of the big companies are getting into graphic novels and manga, both of which seem to predominantly be in the speculative genre.
I once read somewhere (I have no idea where) that an editor said something like, "Many of the young people I meet who are writing are writing fantasy." That's quite a trend. I know my generation is growing up on it--I know several young men who that is all they will read, and I know many others kids who show a preference for fantasy. In my area alone, there are three young adults who are writing Christian fantasy (myself, Mary, and a girl Mary knows from orchestra).
The popularity of fantasy is showing-I know this is a secular example, but look at the massive popularity of books like Christopher Paolini's Eragon series. For the Christian example, Brian Davis, Wayne Thomas Batson, and Donita K. Paul are all very popular writers.
Studies show that women of empty nest years are the ones who predominantly read. Once my generation hits there, gone will be the days of prairie romances. We'll be filling our minds not with wide open grasses and sod houses, but swords and castles. Well, mostly. I'm sure that there will still be work for you other genre writers. :0) (OK, I'll admit, I do like reading a good thriller or mystery or romantic suspense, and even a comedic romance/chick lit or two. Straight romance...ehh, I'm not so fond of it right now. That may change sometime, but somehow I kind of doubt it).
So yes, I believe that the market for Christian fantasy is rising, and rightly so. I do unfortunately think that publishers who accept fantasy are looking for something much too "new", which leads to very strange writing at times. But, because everyone is trying to do something "new", that opens it up for more "traditional" fantasy authors, like my style, which I believe is classified as epic/high fantasy. The tradition of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, for those less sub-genre savvy. :0)
I personally think that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the best Christian fantasy authors ever, and that no one can beat them (although admittedly F.W. Faller in his Portals of Tesslandria series does touch upon some of Lewis and Tolkien's genius). And I think that, even as fantasy rises in popularity and authors come up with very good "new" ideas, that type of fantasy, as well as just the speculative genre in general, is going to hold the hearts of generations to come.

6 responses:

Anonymous said...

That is interesting the way fantasy is rising. I wonder if it is because of the way we romanticize the past or wish for ways out of our own world?
I just write fantasy because it doesn't take any research like historical fiction does, and because it's difficult to write allegory in modern times.

As for publishers - although I want to wait until the trilogy is done, I've had my eye on P&R publishing for a while. They publish Douglas Bond's stuff, and will take proposals from authors without a previously published book or without an agent.

Heather said...

I'm sure that the popularity of fantasy is largely due to the escapism factor. Plus it's really cool! ;0)
P&R Publishing is a pretty good group (love Douglas Bond!). I've got a couple of places I'm looking myself. Before you send out a query or proposal, study writing books just to be sure you have industry standards for point of view, etc, so you have a greater chance of them accepting you. I haven't really read that many books, I just gone to conferences...but I think it would probably be easiest for you to read books, huh? :0)
That's not to say I don't think your stories are any good--I think they're really really good! I just want to pass along some of what I've learned the last couple of years (makes it easier for everyone in the long run!). :0)
God bless!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Yeah, books sure are easier than conferences. :P What books do you recommend?

Heather said...

If you want to build strong characters, I'd recommend Brandilyn Collins' "Getting Into Character: Seven secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors". This is by far my favorite books because I'm big into building believable characters.
Strunk's "Elements of Style" is supposed to be a very good book, but I've never read it, so I don't know if it has content that could potentially be offensive, as a couple of other books I've read do (and therefore I can't in good conscious recommend them).
Something that has greatly improved
my writing the last year is my participation in the Christian Writer's Guild Apprentice writing course, where I'm paired with a published author and email assignments to her every two weeks. I choose to take this course instead of going to college--I don't know how writing factors in your future plans at all. The website,, is where you can find out about it...go to "courses" on the sidebar. It's just a good site altogether, and it also may have more recommendations for books.
Also, I occasionally read the blog It has a ton of good info!
Let me know how it goes!

S. J. Deal said...

I love Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, and Sharon Hinck!

Christopher Hopper is another Christian Fantasy wrier who is very good.

I'm currently reading Bryan Davis's books.

Heather said...

I read Christopher Hopper's first book and enjoyed the storyline. I think he definitely hearkens back to traditional fantasy. But he had a lot of spelling mistakes and some other typos that made it difficult to read at times.


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