One of the frustrations of a Christian writer is to constantly hear, “Write your passion!” and then, nearly in the same breath, “XYZ isn’t selling as a genre, so we aren’t interested in your passion.”
I’ll be honest and admit that two weeks ago at the ACFW conference, I found the editor panel so discouraging that I walked out. God had told me very clearly a year ago to write and not pay attention to the market (“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap”), and to stay and listen to the list of who was NOT interested in SF/F was just … toxic.
Mike Duran commented last week on realizing just how uphill the climb is for the Christian SF/F market. He’s absolutely right, which on one hand is utterly discouraging.
On the other hand, it’s just more opportunity to see God work.
I believe God has wonderful things in store for this genre. The readership is THERE. Just in the past two weeks, I’ve heard of so many people clamoring for quality Christian spec fiction. My sister works in the computer tech department of a major ministry, and when she told them about the ACFW conference and what I write, they all were very excited and wanted to know where they could read some of this good stuff? And this morning I received an email from Sharon Hinck, author of the recent release, The Secret Life of Becky Miller. She writes: “Monday I spoke to a church book group about BECKY MILLER, but when I mentioned RESTORER they lit up. There are SO MANY fans of sci-fi/fantasy…people hungry for these stories. I’m baffled that it hasn’t yet translated to the powers-that-be-in CBA getting it.”
The good news is: they may be getting it. One major publisher, who last year very firmly told us that their house did not nor ever would accept speculative fiction, because it wasn’t commercially viable enough, just this year sent a young editor to ACFW for the express purpose of looking at “the weird stuff.” This editor loves Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), so we know that he truly understands the genre.
And just when we hear that nobody is actively pursuing SF/F, we hear of another house who has just contracted an author for a fantasy series.
There are limitations, of course. Science fiction is a much harder sell, to the point that it’s almost universally regarded as “dead” for the moment. And though the door is opening to fantasy, the aforementioned editor told me that he was looking for more traditional fantasy, or at least works that were purely alternate reality. The good news is that he wants QUALITY above all. (I’m waiting with bated breath to see which of my unpublished friends captures his eye first.)
I found it extremely interesting—I should say thrilling—that the theme of the conference was “New Beginnings,” with a banner verse of Isaiah 43:19—“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
I believe that verse speaks to us, as Christian writers and readers of SF/F, in so many ways. God can make the way. Many of us believe that He already is doing so.
And yeah, wasn’t the First Annual ACFW-Con SF/F Party just great? You all made the conference so worth it for me.