Most people who have read my posts here at Spec Faith or over at my own blog, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, know that I love Christian fantasy. As well I should, since I write Christian fantasy.
I also believe that there is an untapped market of other Christians who also love fantasy and would love Christian fantasy even more, except there isn’t very much out there on bookstore shelves.
This past weekend I had occasion to study the bios in the media guide of two sports teams, one male and one female, at a Christian college. One section listed the student’s favorite author and another his/her favorite book. The most repeated author was C. S. Lewis and the most repeated book was Narnia—no one book specified.
Second place in the book category was a tie between The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling, and the Bible. Hemingway received several votes as favorite author. Interestingly, three CBA authors showed up on the list: Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, and Ted Dekker.
Orwell—a science fiction writer who avoided being so pigeon-holed—made an appearance. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which falls into the same category, made the favorite-book list.
In combination, that brings the total to 23 percent of the students identifying a SFF book or author (or both) as their favorite. No other genre even came close.
So while my conviction that SFF readers are out there was reinforced, a dilemma also raised its head.
One thing we here as Spec Faith want to do is get the word out that there ARE some CSFF books out there. When those books sell well, publishing companies will take notice and respond by searching for more of like kind.
But what do we do with books that are Christian, that are fantasy … or sci fi … and are not well written?
At this same event, I met a CSFF author who wrote a very clever story but who apparently had not studied the craft of fiction. Lo and behold, he told me the next book is about to come out—with the same publisher. I had no opportunity to ask him if he’d taken the time to learn to write (nor would the question have been appropriate ). I guess I can only hope.
But what if it is as poor as the first one? Do we—the CSFF community working to promote the genre—ignore it? (Few people I’ve run into have heard of the first one, let alone bought and read it). Add it to the list of fantasy that is out there and encourage people to buy it? Expose it for what it is?
I also wish I knew why publishers put weak writing into print. Do they feel a loyalty to their authors? (This book certainly couldn’t have earned them money).
The last question aside, I’d be curious to know how the rest of you think this issue should be handled. Ideas?