Why isn’t there more Christian fantasy?1
Answer: Not enough readers are buying it.
That’s just the plain and simple fact, and you can read more of my reasons in this 2016 article. (Not much has changed in 1.5 years.)
But you may say: “Wait a minute! I know many people who would love this kind of fiction. They are Christians, and they love fantasy, so much that many of them even want to write it themselves. Also, they enjoy fantastical genres such as superhero movies or horror TV. So how come we’re not seeing more Christian fantasy?”
Answer: thank God for those people, but they’re still not enough to raise demand.
Partly because watching fantasy does not equal reading fantasy.
Partly because many of these fans are content with non-Christian fantasy (neglecting the fact that Christians also still need our own subcultures).
And partly because of that very glut of folks in Christian-fantasy-writer circles. Since we lack many of these successful stories, more young Christians decide to take up writing. That raises demand for Christian fantasy at perhaps the exact rate of supply. So the end result becomes an equalization. Demand for Christian fantasy can’t naturally outpace the supply.
So what’s the solution?
How can we grow demand for these stories among readers and fans?
Answer: let’s joyously share these stories with more people who would love them.
Someone may respond: “But I’ve been doing that. I run my blog, I have a podcast, I write online reviews, I keep digitally publishing my own novels, I’m on the social networks …”
All those are great ways to grow this culture, and by all means, keep that up!
However, I meant: let’s joyously share these stories with more people in real life.2
Think beyond the blogs (which may attract only the fully committed aspiring-author folks), podcasts and online reviews (same results?), and social networks (which can increasingly drain your time and constrict outreach efforts, e.g. Facebook’s reduction of Page reach).
Think about the people in your real life.
Your local church.
Your Christian school.
Your family, volunteer organization, library, or circle of real-life friends.
How many of them would jump at the chance—or show even passing interest—in new, positively reviewed, enthusiastically promoted fantastical novels by Christian authors?
How many of them just might like to join a book club to explore these stories?
Say, a book club led by you, yes, you, who are already a fan of Christian fantastical fiction?
Someone may say, You don’t know my church. People aren’t interested in that.
Perhaps this is true. Perhaps my own church is an outlier. After all, my pastors loved the idea and shared support, and the flagship Lorehaven Book Club at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas (now featuring Firebird) has been going slow yet strong.
But I’ve also hosted a similar book club at my previous church, where my pastors were supportive but not personally invested in the idea of Christian fantasy. Nevertheless, we drew a diverse group of book explorers: homeschool parents and children, older couples, young dads, and single adults, including frequent visitors from outside our church.
In the process, we put these books on these people’s radar.
And that’s with a rather disorganized book club effort!
Imagine what even better organized book clubs could do!
Imagine a whole quarterly publication—Lorehaven magazine—dedicated to reviewing books and helping not just individual fans, but groups of fans to find this fantastical fiction.
Imagine a network of leaders who can help you find a club near you, or start your own.
And imagine a whole insider section, at this very website, where book club leaders can share news, swap tips, and of course, get exclusive (sometimes free) books to explore.
We’re putting this together at Lorehaven.com.
And we’ve recruited none other than novelist Steve Rzasa to help coordinate book club organization. He knows science fiction, fantastic geek-etry, and library work.3 As we move toward debuting Lorehaven’s first issue this spring, Steve will become guardian to the Christian-fantasy-book club galaxy. Watch this space to learn more when the time comes.
This leaves only a few closing questions:
Q. How many people want to start a book club?
A. Nearly forty souls have already told us they would like help starting a book club.
Q. How can I enjoy these courageous adventurers?
A. Easy. Sign up for Lorehaven updates and let us know you’re interested in starting a club!
Q. Can I find a book club near me?
A. Give us a few months, and perhaps we can answer “yes.”
Meanwhile, you can join the flagship Lorehaven book club virtually.
Sign up for Lorehaven updates and note in the comment space that you’d like to participate.
Or comment below and say the same. (If you give your email address in the proper field when you post your comment, we can fetch the address from inside Speculative Faith so that you don’t need to share it publicly.)
I’ll add you to a small, exclusive email list with news, announced books, and club questions.
We’re exploring Kathy Tyers’s Firebird in February, and plan new books each month.
Q. I have another question!
A. Share it below! I’ll interact as often as needed so we can share these stories together.
- By “Christian fantasy,” I mean both “fiction in any fantastical genre, written by a Christian,” and “such fiction marketed to Christians.” ↩
- This does not disparage real-life friendships and other relationships that start with internet connections. But human history, past and recent, keeps re-proving the value of using long-range connections for real-life, short-distance relationships. I should know; I met my wife, Lacy, in the internet forum NarniaWeb. ↩
- Steve Rzasa also probably wrote another novel during the time you were reading this article. ↩