Author Topic: Christian authors as fantasy authors?  (Read 3638 times)  

Offline Victoria Evers

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #50 on: May 20, 2017, 02:09:36 PM »
Very interesting. Christian readers aren't turned off by fantasy in itself. It's more in the content and message the book is conveying.

It's not uncommon for authors expanding out to different genres to use another pen name. Yes, you may be losing the fan base you've built, but if you doubt the fantasy book will have the same appeal to your current readers, then you could potentially be opening the door to negative feedback from those very same people. It all depends on the content of your book. Which author better reflects your own tone? C.S. Lewis or George R. R. Martin? That's the question. If your books are like the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series, with strong language, sexual content, and gratuitous violence, then I'd definitely look into getting a new pen name.

Your novel may be a different genre, but is the ultimate message or underlying tone THAT dissimilar from your previous work? As others have mentioned, Christian writers find great success writing fantasy, because Christian readers LOVE books like "Chronicles of Narnia," "Lord of the Rings," and modern-day young adult fantasy books like Mary Weber's "Storm Siren." If your book falls into this category, then I'd say it's still a safe bet to keep your current name. It's all a question of content.

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Offline EBWriter

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #51 on: May 20, 2017, 02:12:16 PM »
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.


um...that would be Elijah. (2 Kings 2:11)  :D

Offline EBWriter

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #52 on: May 20, 2017, 02:21:58 PM »
One of the best books on the subject of Christian Fiction, IMHO, is Jeff Gerke's The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction: The Complete Guide to Finding Your Story, Honing Your Skills, & Glorifying God in Your Novel. (Note: If you use the Look Inside feature on Amazon, make sure you're viewing the Print edition or all you'll see is the enlarged cover.)


Jeff has been an author and editor of Christian [Speculative] Fiction for years, writing under the name Jefferson Scott. His book is loaded not only with tips on the art and craft of writing in general but ideas like:
  • Writing for an audience of One
  • Understanding your calling as a novelist
  • How to find your story
  • and lots more
Most of the work in his book has been comprised of a huge series of tips on writing Jeff wrote for his own website, so you can check it out before purchasing the book. I'd start there if I were you. Invaluable information.

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #53 on: May 20, 2017, 02:35:20 PM »

um...that would be Elijah. (2 Kings 2:11)  :D
Yes, you're right. I recalled that after I posted it but forgot to change it, lol.

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #54 on: May 21, 2017, 02:19:21 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:)
It matters to me as well. I recognize the clear distinction between the Lord's miracles and fantasy. Saying "if to no one else" basically assumes that I don't take it seriously. That stings. A joke is a joke. And even though I feel slightly insulted, I'm going to let it go.

Anyway, I'm posting this final article for the OP, since I've been reading a lot about this very subject myself lately: http://kingdompen.org/magic-fantasy-and-the-christian-writer/

Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #55 on: May 21, 2017, 02:36:28 PM »
You're welcome! I totally understand your position because the last thing I want to be is preachy. But writing fiction is so powerful and our words have impact. Just a good thing to be aware of and remember. <3

Offline Steve M Author

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #56 on: May 21, 2017, 02:45:00 PM »
Interesting question:

Let me give you a look from the other perspective.
As an atheist, I don't read fantasy or write it. Anything that includes magic gets an auto-decline from me.

But I don't see the problem with having both under the same pen-name. Perhaps the one audience feeds into the other.

There is a common thread through both: belief in the supernatural. Don't get offended at that, it was not intended that way. So choose whatever other words you want to characterize it, but from my perspective it seems there is a possible crossover link.

Then I expect you will want to look at the number of fantasy writers that are/were believers. The author of the Narnia stories for example. There are a significant number of them that have been very successful in fantasy.

Some of them even sneak in their religion into the stories, although I have this only on second hand knowledge.

I wish you all the luck in making the best decision for you as a writer and as a person.

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #57 on: May 22, 2017, 05:37:03 AM »
This has been a great thread with some thoughtful answers.  To me, this is entirely about marketing. Start by asking who your readers are.  Might they be likely to cross over to fantasy?  One way to check is to go to Goodreads, find readers who have left 5-star glowing reviews, and see what else they are reading.  Is it varied? Or, is it niche? Can you write the fantasy series in a way that would appeal to them? Is there anything in their social profiles to indicate they might be offended?

I'm facing the same dilemma right now. The audience for my better-selling series is primarily older women who read Appalachian/Southern stories (very small niche). The series itself has horror and fantasy elements set against a folksy background. [It took a LONG time to figure out who my target audience was and how to market to them. I can't count the number of covers and aborted marketing attempts I went through.]

My next novel is a near-future, post-apocalyptic hard-science story about artificial intelligence. Even though the themes still fit with the rest of my work, it definitely won't appeal to my primary readers (zero crossover). Intellectually, I agree with the conventional wisdom that it would be best to market this under a new pen name.

However... Like you, I am annoyed by the need to establish a third pen-name when I can't adequately market or write for the two I already have (that pesky full time job!). I don't think I can support marketing a third pen-name effectively in my available time. I don't have a huge following anyway and my readers will not be offended (they'll just wait for the next piece of Southern fiction). Realistically, do you have the time to market another pen name? Can you juggle the needs of each? How likely will it be that you'll continue writing under the new pen-name after these two novels are done? If the fantasy novel is successful, would you continue writing fantasy? I am struggling with the answers to these questions myself honestly. I've seen many posts from full time writers who are consolidating their works under one name -- which confirms my suspicions about the problems that crop up when trying to juggle too many things. [The best answer, of course, is stick to one genre -- but I just can't help myself!]

Best of luck and thank you for asking this question. It triggered some introspection and insight into my own dilemma. The thoughtful answers in this thread are a perfect example of why I love Kboards.


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Offline Drakon

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #58 on: May 22, 2017, 06:56:12 AM »
How to write Christian-influenced fantasy without being preachy and turning people off? Great question.

The first 3 STAR WARS movies did a fantastic job of this. And look how enthusiastically the public responded!

I think the initial Star Wars success (the remakes were crap) indicates that the public is starved for spirituality. Spirituality which highlights the powerful Divinity of Man as given by the Creator (`The FORCE').

On the other hand with over 2,000 novels on my two kindles I am constantly shocked by the constant use of `Jesus Christ' as an epithet! And I don't even go to church.

Ironic that we are tiptoeing around `Christianity' in Fantasy when `Jesus' name is so rampantly used as an epithet in modern fiction. Like its required. Even scifi ALIENS use His name in vain! Heh. What do outer space aliens have to do with Christianity?

Bottom line - No one wants to be preached to. Myself included. It's demeaning. Yet many (Christian) writers are fantastical spiritual people with huge imaginations. Many of us feel a `calling' to write about spirituality. Otherwise what's the point? The writing just becomes empty because there's no heart in it. For me anyway. 

So the trick and the difficulty is to present Christianity vs - `The Dark Side' in challenging, imaginative ways that do not insult the reader's intelligence or background.

I am grappling with this problem too. Changing my author name doesn't strike me as a solution. The real challenge is in igniting the reader's sense of inspiration and imagination like George Lucas did with Star Wars. I am very interested in people's posts on this subject.

 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 08:29:03 AM by Drakon »


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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #59 on: May 22, 2017, 07:29:30 AM »
How to write Christian-influenced fantasy without being preachy and turning people off? Great question.

The first 3 STAR WARS movies did a fantastic job of this. And look how enthusiastically the public responded!

Star Wars was influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell and Eastern spiritualism, not Christianity.

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Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #60 on: May 22, 2017, 07:50:00 AM »
Star Wars was influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell and Eastern spiritualism, not Christianity.
Absolutely. Still, they share a common theme. But then most traditional fantasy shares the same good-v-evil, good triumphs through heroism and sacrifice, etc. One could argue Christian influence. One would be wrong. But hey....  ;D
Overt Christianity in fantasy will usually some across as preachy. Or at least that is what I found to be the case. Most of the vocal complaints came fro the religious nuts claiming that I was perverting their religion. Nevermind that the gods were entirely fictional and I made no reference to God, Jesus, or any other deity aside from those I invented. 

Offline Drakon

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #61 on: May 22, 2017, 08:25:11 AM »
Star Wars was influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell and Eastern spiritualism, not Christianity.

I'm not denying the truth of your words, but I am curious what makes you so positive that Christianity had no influence on George Lucas writing of the Star Wars movies?

I read an interview in which George Lucas said that he was an avid race car driver on the underground circuit during his teen years. His car was struck by another car and flipped over. At that moment Lucas experienced what he described as `The Force' intervened and saved his life. However he was seriously injured and spent time in the hospital. Lucas gave up racing after that accident.

Whether Lucas prayed to God or Jesus when his car was flipping over, he didn't say. But the point is that Lucas' car accident was a highly formative experience that you don't get from reading Joseph Campbell.   

Lucas' experience with The Force rang a bell with me bec I had a somewhat similar experience at age 15. My horse ran away with me. Charged into a busy street, slipped and fell down in the middle of traffic. It all happened in a flash but that flash will stay with me forever.

As my horse was galloping toward that busy street and I was desperately trying to turn or stop him, I prayed to God to save my life. Up to that point I had never prayed before in my life. I vowed that if God would save me I would never forget Him.

This strange sensation that I can only describe as an invisible force field descended over me.

That moment when my horse hit the paved road and began to slide, it was literally as if we were sliding through water. Cars moved aside or stopped like waves in slow motion. My horse fell down. I hit the pavement, but I never felt a thing. No impact. 

I remember hands lifting me up, brushing me off, checking for injuries. My legs were scratched where the horse had pinned me on the pavement. The horse's legs were also scratched but he was okay. It should have been way worse. We walked home.

That accident aroused a vast sense of curiosity and wonder in me. What was THAT?

Since then I studied and practiced Hinduism, Buddhism and Sufism, although I still consider myself a Christian. But it was the accident, the experience that was the vital turning point in my outlook on God/spirituality. 

This happened years before Star Wars was made.





   

« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 08:46:41 AM by Drakon »


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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #62 on: May 22, 2017, 11:48:02 AM »
I'm not denying the truth of your words, but I am curious what makes you so positive that Christianity had no influence on George Lucas writing of the Star Wars movies?

Because Lucas has given a million and five interviews over the decades regarding the inspiration of Star Wars. Regardless of how you may want to force-feed your own Christian-based perspective into the equation, I take the creator at his word. There are scholarly papers and books on the subject as well where both Lucas and Campbell have discussed the spiritualism of Star Wars. Campbell discussed the entire thing himself in Bill Moyer's The Power of Myth. The mythic archetypes in Star Wars PRE-DATE Christianity by a few thousand years. To even IMPLY that Star Wars is built on Christian belief in the face of overwhelming documentation is insulting. The implication, whether you intend it or not, is that Christianity is the "true" belief and everything copies it, when the reality is that Christianity is built on the mythopoetic cultures that came before it. Even the concept of the crucifixion is not original to Christianity (God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism)

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Offline Dan C. Rinnert

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #63 on: May 22, 2017, 12:00:19 PM »
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 think autocorrect may be giving him a better foothold than fantasy novels.  ;)

Offline Drakon

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #64 on: May 22, 2017, 12:56:21 PM »
Because Lucas has given a million and five interviews over the decades regarding the inspiration of Star Wars. Regardless of how you may want to force-feed your own Christian-based perspective into the equation, I take the creator at his word.

There are scholarly papers and books on the subject as well where both Lucas and Campbell have discussed the spiritualism of Star Wars. Campbell discussed the entire thing himself in Bill Moyer's The Power of Myth. The mythic archetypes in Star Wars PRE-DATE Christianity by a few thousand years. To even IMPLY that Star Wars is built on Christian belief in the face of overwhelming documentation is insulting. The implication, whether you intend it or not, is that Christianity is the "true" belief and everything copies it, when the reality is that Christianity is built on the mythopoetic cultures that came before it. Even the concept of the crucifixion is not original to Christianity (God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism)

But what about Lucas `miraculous' survival of his teenage racing accident that changed his life?

With regard to Star Wars - The Force - I was referring to God - is God not part of Christianity? How better to describe God? Most people agree he's not a guy with a long white beard sitting up in heaven somewhere.

As far as getting involved in the foundations of Christianity, I have made it part of my life's work to study ancient history. Have toured numerous ancient sites around the world including the pyramids in Egypt. Always I am looking for answers in the stone.

My Horse Lords Series is set in 513BC. In it I delve into detail about ancient religions in Southern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. With the exception of Buddhism and Zoroastrianism, most ancient religions practiced blood sacrifice.

When a king dies the Scythians sacrifice 50 young men and 50 of the most beautiful horses - Herodotus

WHY? How did these sorcerers exert such a powerful hold on ancient people that they felt compelled to sacrifice humans and animals to `the gods'? 

If you look at the European tribes they virtually all practiced human and animal sacrifice. That ended with Christianity.

But be that as it may, I'm not here to argue about the foundations of Christianity. Like any other movement or religion Christianity EVOLVED from other belief systems. The Bible makes that clear.

Crucifixion was a common practice. The Romans crucified Spartacus along with thousands of his followers. So what's with that?

I am interested in writing Spiritual/Christian beliefs in a way that people will feel inspired, not `force fed'.

The first 3 Star Wars movies did a great job of making spirituality palatable by introducing the concept that humans have the power to connect with The FORCE/`GOD'. This concept has been a recurring theme in my life and in my books. 

If you want to discuss it more feel free to message me.


   
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 01:08:04 PM by Drakon »


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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #65 on: May 22, 2017, 01:58:53 PM »
But what about Lucas `miraculous' survival of his teenage racing accident that changed his life?

As he has never, ever, in any interview I ever saw or anything I ever read, made any mention of how a racing accident influenced Star Wars, his miraculous survival is not remotely relevant to anything. That is YOU projecting your beliefs, not evidence on Christian influence on Star Wars. Just stop. This thread wasn't even about that. The OP wanted to know if she should use the same pen name for both Christian fiction and fantasy fiction. Then it derailed into people talking about fantasy writers who happened to be Christian (which is not remotely what she was asking). And then you mentioned Star Wars was "Christian fantasy" which is so fundamentally wrong as to be out there in "Alternative facts" territory and I corrected you based on Lucas' own words and the volumes and volumes of literature that has been written on the subject.

I take my Star Wars pretty seriously (points at avatar). If anyone on these boards knows SW, it is me.

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Offline Mari Oliver

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #66 on: May 22, 2017, 02:08:13 PM »
Ok...there are Christians who won't read fantasy but still celebrate Christmas, which has pagan roots. Just saying. Please don't hate me, it's history. Even Paul mentions in the Bible that in the end times, Christians will say "don't eat this" or "you should do that" (I believe circumcision was the issue at hand that he was talking about). God knows our hearts, and that's what matters. So long as we, Christians, don't glorify things that aren't of the Lord in our writing, that's what counts. I mean, Narnia and Middle Earth are beloved and they were written by Christians. So...I don't understand why fantasy is such a big deal. Like anything, use discernment. I better shut up and go write now.  :P

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #67 on: May 24, 2017, 06:14:24 AM »
There are always those who have stricter beliefs than others. Some Christians think fantasy is the devil. Some enjoy fantasy.

An inspirational book isn't inspirational if it doesn't break the norm. A reader who reads a "safe" book using a "safe" trope doesn't learn anything. "Change the names, I've read this lesson before."

To be truly inspirational, your challenge needs to be different. I tend towards edgy, skirting real issues people face, rather than using a cookie-cutter for my books. I've written across the spectrum, though I have yet to write a strictly "Christian" category book. But I do insert moral challenges into my books - and I'm a naughty romance writer.

The best bet to break your inspiration into a genre is to read the top books of that genre. Bend their tropes a bit, but not too far, or you risk alienating your customers.
 

Online TimothyEllis

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #68 on: May 24, 2017, 06:21:23 PM »
While I will decline to interject myself into this disagreement as I have no knowledge of it other than I have seen all but the most recent star wars movie, I will point out this is exactly the kind of argument I do not want to find myself in over my writing. If you take away something from my writing that speaks to you in a "God" way great, but other wise  I do not personally want to "force feed" anyone anything in either direction.

~~ Once again not sure I make sense but there's my two cents!

I write spiritual, which is not religious based. My novel series has a spiritual main character, so there is a spiritual basis to my Space Opera. And the final ending shows how a spiritual based solution is better than a military one. Quite a few people have commented that having a spiritual underside to military action makes it much more believable for them, and straight military sci-fi lacks any moral or ethic underpinning, for them.

I get the odd review mentioning "religious crap" and "preaching", but on the whole, the mixture is liked by a lot of people, and has also been the way some people find their spiritual side, since the whole thing is put in SO language, where they dont understand the spiritual language.

So if you feel you can write any form of religious fantasy, I'd say go right ahead. But just understand it wont please the religiously close minded, and it wont please the fantasy people who are not into religion. But you may find a niche, and gain fans who like the mixture of both, the same as I have.

Offline Alix Adale

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Re: Christian authors as fantasy authors?
« Reply #69 on: May 27, 2017, 01:39:26 AM »


That's like the best meme-answer possible, considering I ripped off a Chris Claremont X-Men title.



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