Author Topic: Christian authors as fantasy authors?  (Read 3641 times)  

Lauriejoyeltahs

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Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« on: May 17, 2017, 02:27:29 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 02:47:33 PM by Lauriejoyeltahs »

Offline ConnerKressley

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 02:41:53 PM »
I'm a Christian and I read fantasy all the time. Are you afraid your audience just won't translate or that they'll be offended?

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Offline Patrick Urban

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 02:54:43 PM »
One of the greatest fantasy authors of the last few decades, David Gemmell, was a Christian who laced his works with Christian messages and undercurrents. He often said in interviews he wrote, in part, for "those with eyes to see and ears to hear" -- a reference to Matthew 13:16.
Yes, it's a different scenario than associating explicit Christian fiction as a genre with your fantasy genre works; however, it does speak to the openness and/or appetite of a sizeable segment of the fantasy audience.
Whether that will be the case with your particular audience... ?
But I think (...at least hope) that it is entirely too cynical to go to measures to hide the one from the other -- beyond the considerations that normally bear on genre/audience/penname marketing -- for fear of Christophobic or theophobic backlash or alienation.
 

Offline caarsen

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2017, 03:11:51 PM »
C.S. Lewis, J. R.R.Tolkien. You would be walking in some pretty large Fantasy/Christian footsteps if you go this route. No reason you can't or shouldn't.

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2017, 03:15:04 PM »
One of THE greatest modern Christian authors also wrote fantasy. Didn't seem to hurt either one of his brands ;)
(I'm talking about CS Lewis)

It probably would depend at least a little on the content of your fantasy, though.

ETA: I see caarsen beat me to it :D
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 03:18:20 PM by MelanieCellier »

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Online CABarrett

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2017, 03:15:12 PM »
From the Inklings to Brandon Sanderson, our current fantasy genre has been so shaped by Christian authors that I think the vast majority of readers won't mind. Do you know anything about the demographics of your current platform that indicates they might be gravely offended by fantasy?

I think there's a separate question here (that I people more experienced at marketing than I am can advise on): does it make sense to start another pen name so that you can build a tighter brand around the fantasy books?

I've been pondering this second question myself because I have one fiction project that deals with Christian content but none of my others do - I've decided to use one pen name because I think that the presence of the Christian work will send an appropriate signal about the (clean) content of the stories I have planned in other genres.

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2017, 03:16:27 PM »
I think it largely depends on your audience. Christians run a HUGE range in tastes and preferences, so I think it's impossible to really say. If you're typically writing for very strict Christians, then fantasy might be out of bounds. If your audience is younger or more open to other ideologies, then fantasy should be no problem.

For what it's worth, I consider myself religious and I write almost exclusively fantasy. 
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Online Jena H

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2017, 03:53:27 PM »
Honestly, I don't see why there would be any conflict.  As long as you don't write about satanic creatures stalking people of faith, or evil demonic warlords taking over Earth.  (Although even those things could be done, theoretically.)

Authors write in different genres all the time without any negative repercussions.   Plus, as others have noted, some very well-received fantasy authors have been strongly Christian as well.
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Offline Christopher Bunn

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2017, 04:01:36 PM »
I'm a Christian and I write fantasy. My stories aren't specifically written to evangelize; rather, they're simply written from my worldview--that there's good and evil, that morality has a large hand in an individual's choices/their character arc, that certain things are worth fighting and dying for, the value of family, courage, self-sacrifice, that one can fall into darkness and still be redeemed, etc.

I don't try to overtly push those things in my stories, but they naturally work themselves into the characters and their choices, because that's what I believe about how the world works, whether it's here in California or in my created land of Tormay.

Regardless of how you write, whether with an implicit Christian worldview or with an explicit Christian worldview, there will be readers. And, regardless of how you write, even if you write about a monosyllabic bug living at the bottom of a coal mine with no other characters in the book at all, some people will still be offended.

Offline Flay Otters

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2017, 04:50:27 PM »

I think your second question almost bears as much merit as mine does.

As far as offending people, my current work possibly could but probably no more so than Hsrry potter or something written by Morgan Rice. I built my world around five (some magically inclined) races created by a superior being. They have different powers and abilities and elemental usage to prevent them from becoming as powerful as their creator.

It's possible to rework it without getting into how the world and races were created, but I would need to rework one my major plot ideas of having the races band together to ultimately remove the creators power.

And perhaps I'm reading too much into it. I did post a poll on my twitter just to see, and it seems my followers are split on the subject.

Your fantasy plot sounds a bit gnostic, with man striving to be God, rather than finding God through Jesus.
That might be a sticking point for the devout amongst your readers.
It doesn't bother me because my faith, such as it is, does not depend on avoiding suggestions of heresy in a work of fiction.
But I would consider using two different pen names.

Online Jena H

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2017, 05:33:45 PM »

I think your second question almost bears as much merit as mine does.

As far as offending people, my current work possibly could but probably no more so than Hsrry potter or something written by Morgan Rice. I built my world around five (some magically inclined) races created by a superior being. They have different powers and abilities and elemental usage to prevent them from becoming as powerful as their creator.


So your world has a single "creator," a superior being.  I wouldn't think too many people of faith can find find much to object to in that.
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Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2017, 05:39:51 PM »
Not under my penname, I publish fiction and fantasy that has a sublime Christian message. Nothing overt. Not had a single complaint.

Under my romance/erotica penname, had one book (Captive Couple) disparaged because the primary character gets saved by a cigar-chomping, foul-mouthed chaplain. Comes to Jesus on his knees kind of thing just before a fight.

Got one iffy review on it. Everyone else didn't seem to care.

I don't think you're going to have a problem.
 

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2017, 05:54:58 PM »
Honestly, I don't see why there would be any conflict.  As long as you don't write about satanic creatures stalking people of faith, or evil demonic warlords taking over Earth.  (Although even those things could be done, theoretically.)

Isn't that pretty much what Christians believe is happening already? Why would such things be out of bounds in a fantasy novel?

Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2017, 05:50:07 AM »
Quote
. . . there's good and evil, that morality has a large hand in an individual's choices/their character arc, that certain things are worth fighting and dying for, the value of family, courage, self-sacrifice, that one can fall into darkness and still be redeemed, etc.

Funny, but I'm an atheist and this is pretty much what I believe as well, with the caveat that I think it all comes from human nature, not divine/evil influence. Most "morality" comes from humans learning to live together in groups/clans/tribes.

As to the OP's question, there's really no way to know except to try it. There are some religious people who won't touch fantasy, and some who will. You probably have readers of both types. And the worse that could happen? You get some bad reviews, possibly on your religious stuff, possibly end up getting the pen name anyway. Personally, if I had any doubts the fantasy wouldn't go over well with my current readers, I'd just start the pen name anyway.
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Offline Doglover

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2017, 05:54:18 AM »
I don't want to start a big religious argument here, but have a genuine guest Jim

What is a guest Jim?



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Online Jena H

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2017, 06:05:28 AM »
What is a guest Jim?


Edited.  - Becca

May have been Autocorrect or slippery typing fingers, but I think the it was supposed to be a "genuine question."     8)
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 08:20:28 AM by Becca Mills »
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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2017, 07:52:35 AM »
Why not do a test run and just post a sample of the story on your blog? The best way to determine how your readers will react is to actually give them a sample.

However, the bigger concern may not be from Christian readers, but fantasy readers. I'll be the first to admit that I avoid genre books written by authors that I know also publish Christian books, because 90% of the time they are just proselytizing. I've been burned too many times, particularly with post-apocalyptic fiction, that sounded great in the blurb and turned into "If you aren't a Christian you are going to Hell and JESUS SAVES HALLELUIAH."

Not saying YOU are doing that. Just alerting you to the potential problem. There is a lot of pushback in the horror and fantasy communities regarding "bait and switch" from Christian authors.

All that said, however, Christian fantasy is actually an entire sub-genre in and of itself. There is a market for that specific combination. Depending on how, and to whom, you intend to market the book, your existing pen name may be a boon.

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Offline Nicole@CSC

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2017, 12:26:02 PM »
This is a really tough question. One I've wondered myself, lately. There are a lot of fantasy themes that don't mesh well with the Christian faith. But, it can be done, as C.S. Lewis and many other proved. I think if you study their works, you'll see some themes to help you navigate these rough waters.

One example I can think of is The Chronicles of Narnia. It's a tough write where the natural Earth and Earth rules as we know them are not violated. We're given an alternate land, also made by our Creator for a purpose, where magic is mostly given straight from the Creator in an item or originally designed by Him that way. Witches aren't the good guys and sorcerers aren't either. 

Your story brief sounded on point until the characters were able to overthrow the creator. I see this as a trouble spot for the Christian view. If you believe there is one almighty Creator, then you don't believe His creation can overthrow Him, thus putting God in the light of not all powerful.

You won't lose all of your Christian audience on that, but I can assure you, you will lose quite a few.

If you could capitalize on your current pen name's following without ostracizing a good portion of them, that would be ideal. Perhaps you could have your creator assign a powerful being to their care where they overthrow him instead. And if not, I like the Brandt name, but I'd look into your fantasy genre and see what style of names abound. Pen names can also be a major genre que.

Good luck!!

Offline Abalone

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2017, 12:54:08 PM »
I'm not sure how to say this without being wrong or offending, but I believe Brandon Sanderson is Mormon and writes popular fantasy, and is said to sometimes weave teachings without making it apparent.

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2017, 02:25:06 PM »
I'm not sure how to say this without being wrong or offending, but I believe Brandon Sanderson is Mormon and writes popular fantasy, and is said to sometimes weave teachings without making it apparent.
I've never noticed that in his work, so it says something, huh? :) I'm also not sure where the myth of Christians not enjoying fantasy came from. I love fantasy like anyone else. One thing, though, is I won't read anything (in any genre) that seems too dark or glorifies violence. There's a specific popular fantasy author I won't read but that's because I don't think his work is for me, but I know other Christians who read it and love it. So, like anyone else, we Christians are a reasonable people with brains, common sense, and varying tastes. When I first decided to take my writing to the professional level, I struggled with making sure I was creating work that glorified God. But that's with anything I do in my life for the most part and I often don't get it right because I'm a human being.

Everyone has their lines drawn in the sand as to what's right/comfortable for them, whether they are Christian or not. Fantasy is not wrong. It isn't unethical or un-Biblical. My husband and I joke all the time how the Bible has some fantastical moments in it, too (like, the parting of the red sea, or Leviathan). Just write what is within your moral/ethical scope. 


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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2017, 02:32:30 PM »
I've never noticed that in his work, so it says something, huh? :) I'm also not sure where the myth of Christians not enjoying fantasy came from. I love fantasy like anyone else. One thing, though, is I won't read anything (in any genre) that seems too dark or glorifies violence. There's a specific popular fantasy author I won't read but that's because I don't think his work is for me, but I know other Christians who read it and love it. So, like anyone else, we Christians are a reasonable people with brains, common sense, and varying tastes. When I first decided to take my writing to the professional level, I struggled with making sure I was creating work that glorified God. But that's with anything I do in my life for the most part and I often don't get it right because I'm a human being.

Everyone has their lines drawn in the sand as to what's right/comfortable for them, whether they are Christian or not. Fantasy is not wrong. It isn't unethical or un-Biblical. My husband and I joke all the time how the Bible has some fantastical moments in it, too (like, the parting of the red sea, or Leviathan). Just write what is within your moral/ethical scope.

I agree with this (bolded part).  In fact, if you replace the word 'Christians' with 'most people,' it's still true.  Whether Christian, or of some other faith, or no specific faith, or no faith at all, most are "reasonable people with brains, common sense, and varying tastes."  In fact, I think someone would have to purposely, intentionally, and deliberately go out of his/her way to actually offend the majority of Christians.  The varying tastes of people (even of the same faith) means that what offends one won't offend two or three others, and what doesn't offend this one could be questionable for that one.
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Offline Nicole@CSC

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2017, 02:34:19 PM »
Your idea to have some other major authority overthrown is a good one. I suppose then my question would be does naming my "creator" something other than God or creator also cause it's own conflict?

The only theme I noticed when browsing best selling author names in fantasy is about half of them use a middle initial, many of them are somewhat plain names while others seem way out there in made up land to me! (No offense I'm just not that talented wth names)

I can't promise you a right answer on this, but I can give you my answer.  :)

I, personally, am comfortable with books that give God another name IF He still functions as the God I know and acts the same. My reasoning for this is I'm viewing Him from the book's character's point of view. Just as another language might have another name for something. BUT if He doesn't function the same or acts in ways that are not in accordance to the Bible, I will assume this being is clearly not my Creator and probably skip a read that I feel shows God in a poor light.

TL;DR - I don't think using a different name for God would be an issue with a large percentage of Christian readers as long as you keep Him true to character.

This might be more helpful if I let you know I find myself a bit on the stricter side of what the "average" Christian permits.

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2017, 02:46:35 PM »
I can't promise you a right answer on this, but I can give you my answer.  :)

I, personally, am comfortable with books that give God another name IF He still functions as the God I know and acts the same. My reasoning for this is I'm viewing Him from the book's character's point of view. Just as another language might have another name for something. BUT if He doesn't function the same or acts in ways that are not in accordance to the Bible, I will assume this being is clearly not my Creator and probably skip a read that I feel shows God in a poor light.

TL;DR - I don't think using a different name for God would be an issue with a large percentage of Christian readers as long as you keep Him true to character.

This might be more helpful if I let you know I find myself a bit on the stricter side of what the "average" Christian permits.
Agreed! This is why my fantasy worlds (one elven, the other human) have one God who is mainly worshiped. But this is also historically accurate with the time periods those worlds are taken from (real world cultures). Using a video game example because I think it's the best one for my purposes (lol), the world of Tamriel has nine gods. Roleplaying in that game my character(s) worship only one: Akatosh. But this isn't the biggest thing for me when reading fantasy or any other genre. If there's needless violence or child abuse or rape, I'm out of there. (GOT *cough* )

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2017, 02:49:33 PM »
Honestly, I don't see why there would be any conflict.  As long as you don't write about satanic creatures stalking people of faith, or evil demonic warlords taking over Earth.  (Although even those things could be done, theoretically.)

Authors write in different genres all the time without any negative repercussions.   Plus, as others have noted, some very well-received fantasy authors have been strongly Christian as well.
This would be okay, too, though, so long as evil isn't glorified. Lords of the Rings is a prime example of this.

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2017, 03:57:30 PM »
C.S. Lewis, J. R.R.Tolkien. You would be walking in some pretty large Fantasy/Christian footsteps if you go this route. No reason you can't or shouldn't.

CS Lewis especially! As a child, I didn't pick up on it, but the Chronicles of Narnia are full of Christian themes, and his Screwtape Letters are undisguised theological speculation.



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