I’ve always laughed when people say that Speculative Fiction won’t sell in the Christian market. If they mean it doesn’t sell in Christian bookstores, I get that. Very few people go looking for Speculative Fiction in a Christian bookstore. However, tons of Christians I know read Speculative stories. And I don’t think I need to say how much everyone else in the world enjoys them. Sci-Fi or Fantasy films dominate the charts for highest grossing movies. Alongside the usual suspects, there is always at least one Speculative novel on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Sci-Fi and Fantasy are booming genre’s. The problem is that it seems to trend toward certain sub-genres. Vampires boomed in the first decade of the new millennium. Zombies have been trending, and now it looks like witches are the hot topic. OZ: The Great and Powerful, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and Beautiful Creatures are three movies about witches that come out this year. Fairy Tales also seem big right now. Either way, all of these trend more along the lines of Supernatural Fantasy. They revolve around supernatural creatures.
Dystopian also seems hot right now, trending more towards the Sci-Fi angle.
And, of course, almost all these stories have a YA flavor to them.
So, where does that leave a writer of medieval sword and shield fantasy like me? Some have recommended taking the YA route for my characters since editors are craving YA right now. Some have said to present it as YA even though my characters are twenty-somethings in all my stories. I could try that. I’m open to anything that will help me get the stories in my head into the hands of readers.
But ultimately, I don’t think my writing will be the best it can be unless I’m writing what I love. I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to my reading tastes. I like 300,000 word epic tales set in fantastical worlds filled with kings, knights, pirates, and dragons. That sub-genre had its hay day in the 80′s and early 90′s. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t succeed today. There’s still plenty of readers who crave the same kind of tale, as proven by many best-selling fantasy authors.
Personally, I don’t care for zombies or witches. I really dislike vampires. But to each their own. I can agonize over an agent telling me that no one is buying medieval fantasy, or I can work with everything in me to write amazing stories. Following genre trends usually doesn’t work. Writing awesome stories usually does :)
So, if you’re not getting a lot of bites on your stories right now, keep at it. Write better. Write more. Eventually the pendulum will swing back to your sub-genre, and you just might be the one to start the new wave.