Showing posts with label Christian fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian fiction. Show all posts

Christian Science Fiction, Revisited

A few months ago, I mused aloud on whether Travelers was too secular for the Christian market. Last weekend I found some interesting information on that very thing (if you follow the link, we'll be talking about Tips #16-18).

Back up first. There's this guy, Jeff Gerke, who looks like exactly the blend of Christian and geek such that we could be good friends, if we ever met. He writes Christian speculative fiction and is making a decided effort to try and get similar stories published (more on that later).

He has 95 writing tips (5 more to come, I guess), some of which are on the business of publishing, some on the business of Christian publishing, and some on writing as a Godly calling. Anyway, in answer to the question, "Is Travelers too secular for the Christian market?" it seems the answer is it's too speculative for the Christian market. Why? Because, says Jeff, "the main readers of Christian fiction are... white, conservative, evangelical, American women of child-raising to empty nest years," and "97% of all Christian fiction titles [are] romance, chick-lit, female-oriented Biblical/historical fiction, female-oriented thrillers, and women's fiction."

Apparently Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and LeHaye/Jenkins are the exceptions, and nowhere near the rule. A new author trying out a male-oriented, Christian speculative fiction novel is likely to get shut down.

So where does that leave Travelers? All it really does is close the door to major Christian publishing houses, and it tells me that I shouldn't use the word "Christian" when I'm querying agents. However, should I run out of agents to query, and should none of the big sci-fi publishers be interested, it turns out Jeff also has his own small press alternative that I will definitely look into.

Christian Science Fiction

I often wonder, if Travelers ever gets picked up, what genre will it be sold as? It's essentially science fiction, obviously, but there's a fair amount of God and faith themes in the story too, and I honestly don't know how they would come across to a non-Christian reader.

Alex is an atheist. His wife was Christian before she passed away, and their son is kind of caught in between and attending a Christian school. In the future, many of the characters pray to God and believe the prophets are speaking for him. And then towards the end there's a Heaven-like scene and even an ambiguous image of a man, beaten and bleeding, hanging in the air with arms stretched out.

Is it too much Christianity for the secular SF market? I guess only an agent or an editor could tell me for sure. But is it also too secular for the Christian market? This book probably isn't, but other book ideas I have just might be.

Because of that, I'd rather not be categorized as a Christian author. Maybe I've heard wrong, but I understand it's difficult to shift genres, and I don't know if the Christian market is the right place for what I (usually) like to write. I've seen the books on Christian bookstore shelves, and most of them just aren't the kind of thing I enjoy writing.

There's something else too. I don't know how to say it exactly, so here's an example. I was reading a plot summary of The Oath the other day. It's got dragons, conspiracies, murder... everything a good urban fantasy needs. I thought it sounded like a cool story right up until the protagonist is told that he "must have Jesus on his side" to defeat the dragon.

Now this is sad (and worthy of its own blog post): why does the mention of Jesus automatically make the story feel cheesy to me? It says more about me than it does about the story, I know. Travelers borders on this, but I wasn't willing to go all the way and say, "You need Jesus to defeat Arad." I think because I wanted to sell, maybe even speak to, the secular market.

Besides which (and maybe this is why I find it so cheesy), I think a Christian reading Travelers would put two and two together without me ever having to be obvious about it, and I fear being obvious about it would automatically turn off a non-Christian reader. I'm not trying to evangelize with the book. If anything, I want both Christian and non-Christian readers to think - maybe for the first time - that there might be more to this life than we think there is.

I don't know if the story does that, but is it already too late anyway? Is the book already too religious for the secular market? I guess I'll find out, if it sells.