The Readers Are Coming

In the wake of the inaugural Realm Makers conference, I’ve seen several posts about different points of view on Christian speculativereadingrobot 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. 🙂


About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

7 comments on “The Readers Are Coming

  1. Great blog! Your words of inspiration may have pushed me over an editing hump as I rework my debut novel. Thanks!

  2. Glad I could help, Angie. 🙂 Good luck editing the novel, and thank you!

  3. I’ve been following all these blogs, and it’s quite the gamut of discussion. I’m one of those people who really wanted fantasy as a kid, but I couldn’t find it. All they had was Gilbert-same-plot-every-book-Morris. And I even bought all his fantasy books, just out of sheer deprivation. I wish I’d known about Diana Wynne Jones. She had a respectable stable of books even back in the 90s. As it was, I did have to go to the ABA to find kids’ fantasy (the library! The library!). Shucks, I read everything. I still combed our local Christian bookstore whenever we visited, and I read Frank Peretti’s kid books over and over. But there never seemed to be any more.

    So yes. Readers are out there. Reaching them is tricky, but I think conventions like Realm Makers will help propel our niche into the public eye. 🙂

  4. Well said, Heather. We are, it seems, on the bleeding edge of a movement. The growing pains are something awful.

    I remember as a teen reading secular SpecFic and just being annoyed that the worldview of so many of my favorite authors (Asimov and McCaffrey are the first who come to mind) didn’t jibe with my own. (I wouldn’t have used the word “worldview” then, but I now know that’s what it was.) I wish I’d had someone like Kerry Nietz and Donita K. Paul to read instead. Well, OK, I admit it would have been also. Still…

    The readers are there. We just have to help them find us…

    • This conversation is a recurring theme whenever I gather with other Christians who write speculative fiction. We know there’s readers, but how do they find our books? CBA publishing isn’t going to grab them unless they think they can make money off them (understandably so for the most part).

      I think if we can figure out the “how” part, the entire industry will be revolutionized. Any ideas?

      • As a writer of Christian spec fic, I find it encouraging to know that there are readers for our genre. I think as the quality of the content continues to improve and the number of books written increases, we’ll gain more recognition from readers. Events like Realm Makers, if they can expand, should help put us on the map even more. Sites like Goodreads would also be useful to make use of. But the aspect most integral to this discussion is marketing IMO. Our job as authors is to write great books and then take them to the readers. It’s not so much about readers finding us, as us going out and taking our books to the readers.

  5. […] The Readers Are Coming (newauthors.wordpress.com) […]

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