My target market is not “Christian Speculative Fiction”.
This has been looming in my mind and heart for a long time. I’ve battled it, denied it and avoided it.
Although I’m a self-proclaimed “Jumper”, I think secretly in my heart I hoped to find a place here in this niche, at least on the fringes. I wasn’t after the sanctioning of a publisher. I craved the advantages of a small clear audience. I wanted someone else to show me what my target market was and where they hang out.
I interweave lots of my own beliefs and morals into my stories and characters, but in the end I’ve decided for myself that such is not enough to qualify for the genre. Every genre has it’s own quirks, it’s own assumed rules and reader expectations.
I confess that when I first joined NAF I hadn’t read many “Christian Speculative Fiction” books. I’m a fan of Tolkien and Lewis, but I don’t count them. They were annexed long after the fact. The only one I can really count is that I had read about half of the Left Behind series.
Since then I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to sample some delightful stories from fellow authors and several of the publishers at the heart of the movement.
I won’t attempt to explain what I’ve found in this genre, lest I be tarred and feathered as stereotyping a group still striving to evolve. However, pretty much nothing I’ve written so far would fall safely inside the arena.
So I see two basic options. Change to write what the readers of this genre seem to want or expect. Or return to the mainstream market to find myself a corner.
I’ve already invested too much time trying to span both shores. I’ve altered my stories here and there, but it’s too superficial and misses the core elements that I’ve found common here. No, to pitch myself under the Christian Spec banner would mean throwing out what I’ve done and starting over.
More than one fellow author has encourage this, that it’s safer in so many ways. In the culture of this group it’s not hard to link mainstream to “the world”, “the wilderness” and even going over to the “Dark Side” itself. Even in the best of light it fails to offer the open fellowship and encouragement I’ve found here.
Mainstream fantasy particularly is highly competitive, saturated and riff with dark trends. However I’d hardly be alone. Just because I’m jumping genres doesn’t mean I’m walking out of NAF or the friends I’ve made here.
Let it be known that I do not fear starting over.
I fear hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy to what I truly believe, to what I truly love reading, to what I enjoy writing, to my voice and style.
So I continue to defy labels of others. I’m not a writer of “Christian Fiction”, Spec or otherwise. However I am a Christian writer, in it’s fundamental definition. I love Christ and seek to create works virtuous, lovely or praiseworthy in order to explore eternal truths and share what I find. I hope that through doing so that both I and my readers will be inspired to that which is good.