Author Topic: Christian authors as fantasy authors?  (Read 3756 times)  

Offline skylarker1

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #25 on: May 18, 2017, 04:05:49 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.

Orson Scott Card is also Mormon, and has offended a lot of people in fantasy fandom by speaking out against rights for gays - although I never saw any of that in reading his books.


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Offline Abalone

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2017, 08:19:08 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 think the myth stems from the very early Christian outrage at Harry Potter when the first novel went to print in the 90s.

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2017, 01:36:35 AM »
Orson Scott Card is also Mormon

And Larry Correia and Tracy Hickman.  Plenty of Mormons have been very successful writing SF/F.

Madeline L'Engle and Robert Jordan were/are major figures in fantasy, and they were both Episcopalians.

One of the early big-hitters in fantasy was George MacDonald, and he was a theologian in addition to being a fantasy writer.  From his Wikipedia page, it sounds like he had an interesting childhood:

Quote
MacDonald grew up in the Congregational Church, with an atmosphere of Calvinism. However, MacDonald's family was atypical, with his paternal grandfather a Catholic-born, fiddle-playing, Presbyterian elder; his paternal grandmother an Independent church rebel; his mother was a sister to the Gallic-speaking radical who became Moderator of the disrupting Free Church, while his step-mother, to whom he was also very close, was the daughter of a Celtic Episcopalian minister.

The point of all this is that one's religious beliefs are no bar to writing stories that readers enjoy.  So concentrate on spinning a good yarn, first and foremost, and everything else will sort itself out.  :)
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2017, 05:47:19 AM »
The point of all this is that one's religious beliefs are no bar to writing stories that readers enjoy.  So concentrate on spinning a good yarn, first and foremost, and everything else will sort itself out.  :)
[/quote]

The OP can correct me, but I believe the question was regarding a writer of Christian fiction can also write fantasy under the same pen name, not whether or not a person who happens to be Christian can write fantasy.  People seem to be answering the second question, not the first.

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Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2017, 06:12:18 AM »

The OP can correct me, but I believe the question was regarding a writer of Christian fiction can also write fantasy under the same pen name, not whether or not a person who happens to be Christian can write fantasy.  People seem to be answering the second question, not the first.

That's what I understood as well, Julie. It was a bit hard to parse with the autocorrect inclusions, but my read of the OP was that her concern was using the same 'pen name' on both "Christian Fiction" and "Fantasy". Would it confuse -- or offend -- readers of one or the other genre.

FWIW, I don't read either genre so I can't speak directly to this situation. I have found mystery writers I quite liked and I do check out books by them even if they're not "Mystery" or "Suspense". Sometimes I try 'em and like 'em; sometimes not. Sometimes I don't bother to try if they're too far afield from my usual preferences.

I don't personally see why "Christian Fiction" and "Fantasy" should have mutually exclusive reader sets but, again, I'm not really in either one. I almost never enjoy Christian Fiction; there are various reasons. I have enjoyed some Fantasy, but it's not a regular thing for me.

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2017, 07:39:41 AM »
Am I destined to be a young adult writer then? This certainly wasn't my plan.

Don't worry, lots of kids read adult novels (I know I was reading Lord of the Rings at ten) and lots of adults read Young Adult novels. It's not about who reads it, it's about the characters, particularly the protagonist, and to some extent the tone and themes. If your MC is a young adult, then you may well be writing Young Adult, if not, then you aren't.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with writing Young Adult if you do end up down that path, and fantasy seems to be the easiest YA subgenre for indies to find success in  :)

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Offline Mark Gardner

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2017, 07:51:24 AM »
Plus, many christian bible stories from the old testament make for great fantasy. My recent short story, Warmache, is loosely based on Isaiah 10:15, and 2 Kings 6.

Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2017, 08:00:24 AM »

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.

I'm a lay reader at my church. I went to Catholic school. And I'm a professional soldier, with multiple tours; it's true that there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole. My wife attended a private Christian university. My faith is very important to me.

I write fantasy.

More to the point, I write boob-swinging, nuts-adjusting, testosterone-fueled fantasy thrillers with a drunken, vengeful protagonist and the sporadic Faerie threesome. I don't see a dichotomy in being a good Christian and also writing fantasy -- or fiction in general -- that doesn't hold to Christian values. In fact, I think you'd throw the entire suspension of disbelief right out the window if you built a fantasy society that believes exactly what Christians believe. (In point of fact, I don't understand why fantasy worlds have gods at all. In a world where magic is commonplace, why would people turn to an invisible sky-being to explain the impossible? What is faith without miracles, and what are gods without faith? Take your time; I'll wait.)

Now, would I want the vestry or the youth group to choose my work as the Book of the Month? No. Would they? Dear Lord, I hope not. But having your followers/friends not be your target demographic and having them get offended by your work are two different things.

I actually know a group in real life that I get along well with as we share most of the same beliefs but even today are the are fanatics about fantasy opening the door to Satan.

I believe that if you're not offending someone, you're not making art. (If you're offending everyone, though, then maybe it's time for an azimuth check.) Also, it has been my experience that the types of Christians who get offended by books are the ones who are the most worth offending. Write what you're going to write. This is art.

Edit: If I do go to hell for writing fantasy, then it means all the good bands will be there.
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Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2017, 08:20:50 AM »
Plus, many christian bible stories from the old testament make for great fantasy. My recent short story, Warmache, is loosely based on Isaiah 10:15, and 2 Kings 6.
I know! Husband and I joke all the time about the Bible being a fantasy book:

- rise dead bones in a field
-Ezekiel being whirled off to heaven in a chariot
- the heavens parting and God's Entourage of spheres (spaceship looking things) with angels floating from the sky

I could go on! And yes, I think one can write Christian fiction and fantasy under the same name. You can offend anyone, of faith or not, with anything.

Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2017, 08:27:01 AM »
I guess my reasoning in writing that way, is that I personally always want to know more. How did this magical realm/world come into existence. Was it meteors clashing together, did something create it, was it random atoms? How did the people obtain magic? Where does the power derive from? How is it learned, sustained etc. It wasn't really a worshiping question for me as more of this is how it happened and why.

The only place that gods play a role in my world is in the creation myths, but they're so ancient that they're considered folklore. I was referring to the misguided trope that you can't have a functional society without a centralized religion that people hold to. They don't have gods that they pray to. They go to Mike, the local wizard, when they need someone to make things go their way.
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Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2017, 08:29:49 AM »
I have tattoos. My husband is covered in them. Many devoted Christians we know have tattoos. Jesus did away with the old law. Have them read Romans. BUT...to not get carried away on theology, can you do a new pen name more for practical purposes? Will the fantasy be YA or adult? If you're reaching a different audience then it might be worth it to consider a new pen.

Offline Patrick Urban

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2017, 09:24:54 AM »
And Larry Correia and Tracy Hickman.  Plenty of Mormons have been very successful writing SF/F.

Madeline L'Engle and Robert Jordan were/are major figures in fantasy, and they were both Episcopalians.

One of the early big-hitters in fantasy was George MacDonald, and he was a theologian in addition to being a fantasy writer.  From his Wikipedia page, it sounds like he had an interesting childhood:

The point of all this is that one's religious beliefs are no bar to writing stories that readers enjoy.  So concentrate on spinning a good yarn, first and foremost, and everything else will sort itself out.  :)

And of course the progenitor of contemporary 'high fantasy', Tolkien, was a devout Catholic. His catholicism was one of the influences in C.S. Lewis converting to Christianity. That Lewis never embraced Catholicism specifically was a persistent, albeit minor, rift in their friendship.

Offline Dpock

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2017, 12:54:50 PM »
Also, it has been my experience that the types of Christians who get offended by books are the ones who are the most worth offending.

Agree, but best done in a way they don't quite grasp.


Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2017, 01:21:53 PM »
OP: so long as you're comfortable and right with God over your decision, that's all that matters. So, take your time and consider where to go from here. It's the best advice I can give you. Hugs!

Offline Tulonsae

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2017, 02:28:20 PM »
You might be interested in reading "So You Want to Be A Wizard?" It's a series. It's about youths/children. And it's absolutely full of Christian themes. But it has magic. And in a couple of books, they go planet hopping (which was fascinating, actually). Oh, and it's not trying to convert anyone, either. Good books, good stories.

As to your original question, if you're writing Christian fiction and fantasy under the same pen name, I think there is some expectation that it will be relatively clean, and that it will adhere to some basics. Like, for example, it's okay to have a powerful being that others are trying to overthrow. But I wouldn't imply that being is the one true god. I'd indicate that being was a subordinate, a different race, or some being that the one true god (who might not even be in your book) had given free will to. Or something like that. That's pretty much how I read Tolkien's creation myths in the Simarillion.

Offline cebap

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2017, 03:08:31 PM »
I personally think you should just make a new pen name and separate the genres since they have widely different audiences in general.
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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2017, 03:46:04 PM »
I did some google searches on the differences between ya and adult fantasy, and it seems to come down to being a simpler language, lower word count, and younger aged characters, generally told in third person. 

I am not any where near having a total word count, though I have enough adventures planned I expect for it end up being several books. I am writing in third person, but I didn't think my language was overly simplistic or overly sophisticated to be honest.

I hope it's ok that I keep picking out the comments on YA - I write YA and often see misunderstandings about it, so it's a topic of interest to me :) If I'm not being helpful, then feel free to tell me you're wanting to keep the conversation focused on the fantasy aspect.

I'm not sure where the third person thing came from, as I would say YA has a higher instance of first person than most other genres (in fact, someone just commented on this in the first v third thread, and I'm in complete agreement). Having said that, there's no problem with writing third. As for lower word count - from what I understand, this used to be enforced by trad but is less and less the case. (Twilight was 120k and isn't epic fantasy or generally regarded by readers to be a doorstopper or anything.)

When it comes to simpler language, I think that's totally up to you and not a necessity, especially since, as an indie, the majority of readers will actually be adults and reading on devices that make looking up words, etc really easy.

Which just leaves the younger-aged characters. That's why I mentioned your protagonist's age in my last post - it seems to be the single consistent/agreed upon aspect that makes something YA. Usually there are also some sort of coming of age themes.

I would suggest that you also consider your content. While there is variance in the genre as to how 'clean' it is, this is an area where I think you're likely to run foul of reviewers and potentially miss your audience if it has graphic...well, pretty much anything :)

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2017, 05:35:36 PM »
Your quite alight, I've always considered myself an avid reader, but its only been the last few months that I have really noticed exactly how many genres exist today.  I googled ya just for the purpose of I wasn't really sure what made a book a ya book versus an adult book. My main characters are youngish, 20-30s, but I do have other supporting characters that are much older. I don't have intentions of getting into anything incredibly graphic but I suppose that could change and also be a matter of opinion. I almost wonder if when I am finished, or even before I am if I should try to find some readers to tell me what age group they think it would best be read by.

20-30s aren't YA, I'm afraid. You'd need more like 15-18 year olds for that. (Although it's ok to have older supporting characters!) I think a lot of people get confused by this since it's a different age range than is considered 'young adult' in real life (in real life it means 18-30 year olds, in YA as a genre it's more like high school age.)

It's not so much the age group of who reads it that's relevant (as indies, since we mainly sell ebooks to people with credit cards, we're almost certainly going to have mainly adult readers). But if it's a YA read (and they feel it's sufficiently clean) the adult readers will pass it on to their daughters/granddaughters (this is often mentioned in reviews). I think a lot of people like being able to share the reading experience in that way. And lots of adults like the themes and tone and feel of YA books.

Characters in their 20s might fit into New Adult, but New Adult is a much newer and much narrower genre than YA. (YA is a parent category that pretty much has all the other categories under it - i.e. you can have YA fantasy, YA horror, YA contemp romance, etc, but this doesn't seem to be the case with NA. From what I can see, and if I'm wrong hopefully a NA writer can correct me, it's basically YA romance without the content restrictions and often with a college setting.)

In the interests of simpler marketing once you've finished, it's probably a good idea to try to lock down your target market during the process rather than after you've finished :)

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Offline JessieCar

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #43 on: May 19, 2017, 06:06:10 PM »
I think CJ Brightley has an interesting write-up on the subject of noblebright, clean and Christian Fantasy over on her blog. The discussion of noblebright Fantasy is really interesting - I'm sure there are writers on this board who can tell you a lot more about it than me, but CJ writes about it here.

I'd like to echo the poster who mentioned David Gemmell - his Christianity never appears directly in his writing, but his beliefs informed what he wrote, in a non-dogmatic way.
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Offline lmckinley

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #44 on: May 19, 2017, 10:29:00 PM »
I'm going to chime in with my opinion. This is long, but I feel like writing, and have writer's block on my WIP. So I'll just put down everything:)

I started out totally ignorant of genre when I self published a Christian novel and have kinda' sorta' tried to figure it all out after the fact. So here's my take.

First off, about pen names. It's hard to take readers with you to a new genre. Most of them won't be interested simply because they aren't interested in fantasy. To be honest, I don't think it makes much difference whether you use a pen name or not. Those of your current followers who like fantasy will follow you. One or two might try the new book because they like you. Most won't. You will have to find a new audience for the book, regardless of what the author name is. That can be a good thing! But also feels discouraging I'm sure. If you do go with a pen name, you can still mention the new book to your old readers.

regarding Christianity and fantasy:
 I'm a Christian of a pretty conservative stripe. I lost interest in Harry Potter after seeing a reference in one of the movies to reading tea leaves - too close to witchcraft to me, which is pretty clearly forbidden in the Bible. I haven't watched any of the movies after that. I know Christians who rave about Harry Potter though. I assume most Christians simply don't know enough about witchcraft, (and I know very little), to recognize what's there. But I only read two of the books, so my opinion on HP isn't worth much.

I do enjoy some fantasy, Tolkein and Lewis in particular, but haven't read much contemporary Christian fantasy.
You may find that readers who have read Christian fantasy books - and didn't like them - may be put off when they see you have also written Christian books. Some readers are very particular about the least hint of Christianity in their books and will not read a book for that reason. If I were you, I would not bother with a pen name and not bother with those readers either. There are some Christian readers who will be thrilled to find a new Christian fantasy title. I'd try to pick up those people instead. But that's just me. I haven't done any market research; just going with my own thoughts about things. If you do hope to market it alongside your Christian books, I would become acquainted with what's typical of Christian fantasy in recent years.

Some Christians will have nothing to do with fantasy, just as some Christians refuse to listen to secular music, but this varies so much in evangelicalism, depending on where you are coming from. I'll go out on a limb and say it is a vocal minority in my experience.

IMHO, in a fantasy novel, the magic is often intrinsic to the characters and the world. (Think of Gandalf and the elves in LOTR. Their magic is just who they are.) It is not manipulation of the powers in our world, or an attempt to possess powers they were not born with. This is more of an appeal to the magic of fairy tales, rather than active witchcraft. I agree that steering clear of obvious witchcraft themes and terms would help you if you want to appeal to a Christian audience.

As I understand it, a lot of Christian fiction does have some kind of divine figure in place in their fantasy world. A while back I saw this book mentioned, [url=http://Cast of Stones]Cast of Stones[/url], and one of the reviewers suggested it handled the theological frame work well, so there's an example to check out. (Sorry, I never did read it myself.)

As far as beings overthrowing their Creator - Sounds more Greek than Christian. The thought that came to my mind was casting a Satan figure as the perceived Creator. He might even be a kind of false god, an evil spirit who has deceived those he claimed to create. (The apostle Paul called it demon worship to sacrifice to idols. And he spent a lot of time talking to Greeks, who were worshiping Zeus, who supposedly overthrew his father...) I think if you subtly planted some seeds of doubt close to the beginning, you know, about who this creator really is, and installed a true Creator in the resolution of the story, it could work really well. But of course not knowing your story idea, this could be totally incompatible with the tale you have in mind. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

I disagree that there are fantasy elements in the Bible, by the way. I consider things like the parting of the Red Sea, not to mention the resurrection of Christ, to be miracles, an act that only God can do, using the powers we know that he has, (giving life, controlling weather, etc.) I consider magic, even in a 'white' or fairy tale sense, to be completely different. Although....C.S. Lewis uses magic as an attribute of Aslan, a sort of stand in for spiritual power, both good and bad. So I guess you could think of it that way. But Lewis's books have a strong allegory component to them, even if it wasn't intended that way. This allegorical model has shaped Christian fantasy quite a bit and may, in fact, be unavoidable. You'd have to study the genre to know.
 
Anyway, good luck with your project. In my writing and my life, I strive to give glory to God. I fall short at times for sure, but that's the goal. I think if you do that to the best of your ability, you can't go too far wrong.

Offline Alix Adale

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #45 on: May 19, 2017, 11:50:09 PM »
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Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #46 on: May 20, 2017, 03:19:35 AM »
I would keep it separate. Your fantasy fans probably won't care, but the readers of Christian based fiction might - some of them anyway. Those who do can be quite vocal about it. Better to save yourself the aggravation.

Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #47 on: May 20, 2017, 08:52:37 AM »
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Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #48 on: May 20, 2017, 09:43:03 AM »
I would keep it separate. Your fantasy fans probably won't care, but the readers of Christian based fiction might - some of them anyway. Those who do can be quite vocal about it. Better to save yourself the aggravation.
See, this is what I'm saying. I know there are other authors who successfully publish under one name but I didn't find that to be the case for me. I write romance...but for two VERY distinct audiences. It just made sense to make up a new name (and honestly, it's kind of fun being incognito).

Also, OP, I came across this article yesterday and thought it might be of some use to you: http://jrsinclair.com/articles/2016/why-christians-should-write-fantasy/

Fantasy fiction (and fiction in general) is a way of communicating with others intellectually via emotions. Placing good messages in your work, ones that honor the Lord, can totally be done writing fantasy. In the past, I struggled with understanding how to balance fantasy and my love for the Lord (which is why I took a mini break and have been writing western bride romance) but it comes down to this: glorify Him not darkness. My fantasy stories are romance. Sex within the context of marriage (but I write clean for the most part), magic that causes more trouble than helps, dark forces that get defeated, etc. So, OP, I extend my private message box if you ever have any questions. I've been writing fantasy much longer than westerns and it's my favorite genre, so I can direct you to some wholesome and clean fantasy books that might be up your alley for study. <3

P.S.
My statement about the Bible having fantastical elements was meant to be lighthearted, same as when my husband jokingly calls his sandals "air Jehovahs". Christian jokes and whatnot. God delights in our joy, does He not? :)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 09:45:33 AM by Mari Oliver »

Offline lmckinley

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #49 on: May 20, 2017, 01:41:16 PM »
Just wanted to add that I didn't mean anything personal to anyone about the fantasy/miracle distinction. Just one of those semantic things that matter to me, if to no one else:)

I'd also like to recommend Mike Duran's blog. www.mikeduran.com He's now focusing on self-publishing for the secular market, but he's written a lot on sci-fi and fantasy in the Christian market and has had a lot of interesting things to say on the subject. At least I think it's interesting. But he may be a little bit of an outsider. As I said, this isn't my genre, so you can take my thoughts with a big grain of salt.

For me personally, I don't have a lot of time and write slow, so a new pen name would be a big deal for me to start and maintain. But you probably have more time to invest in what your doing, and maybe a new pen name suits your needs best.