In the wake of the inaugural Realm Makers conference, I’ve seen several posts about different points of view on Christian speculative fiction. (For those interested, here are the articles by Kat Heckenbach, Mike Duran, and Keven Newsome that inspired me).
It made me wonder where I stand, what I think. I, like Mike–and many other Christian spec-fic writers–have become increasingly frustrated with the apparent apathy of the CBA toward the genre that I so dearly love. Over the past year, especially, I’ve wondered where the readers who love fantasy, sci-fi, and horror that is written from a Christian worldview? The lovers of stories that do have God, but aren’t afraid to hit hard, to be exceptionally well-written, to not preach? The people who just want decent stories that aren’t full of trash (cough-cough-Game-of-Thrones-cough).
At the Realm Makers conference, someone mentioned to me that one of our lecturers (Bryan Davis, author of Dragons In Our Midst and many other excellent books) was constantly surrounded by kids at a conferences. Another note that someone made during a lecture was that YA Christian spec-fic is doing remarkably well. I don’t remember who said these things–if you’re reading this post, sorry! My brain was getting completely overloaded during that weekend–but a couple of weeks later, as I sat reading these other posts, those two comments knocked me upside the head with memories of my own teenage years.
As a teen, I devoured all the decent speculative fiction I could find. I grew up with a steady diet of the usual (Tolkien, Lewis), but also read stories by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Boyers, etc. Anything that was decent, I got my hands on it and read it. When I ran out, I began re-reading. When that lost its fascination, I began writing stories for myself.
It was only as I became an older teen that YA Christian spec-fic really got traction with writers like Bryan Davis, Donita K. Paul, and Wayne Thomas Batson. When I graduated high school, it seemed like almost all my pre-teen and teen friends were reading fantasy, not bonnet fiction.
So, to those who worry about where Christian spec-fic readers are, let me ask this–what happens when those kids grow up?
Sure, like me, some of them will begin reading secular spec-fic. But those kids who love spec-fic aren’t suddenly going to hit their twenties and thirties and start picking up romances. They’re going to keep looking for decent spec-fic that meshes with their worldview, like me. They’re going to be a little more accepting of the weird stuff, the not-quite-nice stuff, the dark stuff that even Christian adult spec-fic contains. And when their kids start to grow up and read, they’re going to hand off those books to them.
My point is…there will be more readers coming. Readers that, like me, won’t settle for half-written, wishy-washy stuff. Readers that want to read well-written, thought-provoking, not-so-safe stuff. It’s hard to be patient, but sometime soon, I believe there will an upswing in Christian spec-fic not only being published, but being read.
Hang in there.