Recently some of us here at Speculative Faith “discovered” a similar group of writers who also want to spread the word that Christian science fiction and fantasy does exist. This organization the Lost Genre Guild was founded by an author writing under the pen name Frank Creed.
I interviewed Frank so that readers here at Speculative Faith can be encouraged. Our group is one of how many similar groups who need simply to find each other?
RLM: Frank, tell us a little about yourself. How did you become a Christian?
FC: Baptized, schooled, and Confirmed in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, I never understood how Scripture’s idealism applied to real life. From the time I graduated high school and escaped an over-protective home in ‘84, until the summer of ‘92, I lived for my appetites. My God-shaped hole swallowed all Hedonism. Then, working at a sheet-metal shop in Chicago’s western burbs, a coworker leant me a copy of Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who is There. It blew my mind. I devoured He is There and He is Not Silent, and How Shall we Then Live? God used Schaeffer to connect my dots, and it changed my life.
RLM What about writing? How did God lead you into this profession?
FC: This is a life story, so I’ll nutshell the timeline. 1970s: mom sent me to a program at the Public Library, where we read and discussed Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. I already loved reading, but that hooked me. 1980s: my high school creative writing teacher encouraged me to enter a contest with students from three or four states. My short story took first place. 1990s: Reading Schaeffer had focused me on life’s meaning, and I struggled with a Biblical fantasy novella and a sci-fi novel in spare moments—until May 9, 1998. On that day, I survived a head-on collision that should have killed me. Doctors bolted my broken body, but I’d suffered a severe closed-head injury. As loved-ones learned that I should be able to feed myself after a year of rehab, my pastor strolled-in for a visit. I’m told he and I enjoyed my first lucid conversation in eighteen days. We prayed, I went to sleep, then awoke in my current capacity. The only lingering conditions are short-term memory lapses and an inability to multitask.
I returned to my factory job, but advancing osteo-arthritis and bursitis forced me to seek white-collar work. The fiction with which I once struggled, now pours like liquid. The people, tools, and learning that He’s provided have shoved, not led, me into fiction. My first novel is due out in late-winter, 2007.
RLM But speculative fiction? Why that genre?
FC: We glorify Him where He’s placed us in space and time, by dwelling at the intersection of given talents and passions. Narnia and Middle Earth first captured my heart. Whenever mom would take me into a Christian bookstore, I’d scour fiction shelves for more Christian fantasy. After years of drought, I learned speculative fiction could only be found in secular stores.
After reading Schaeffer in my mid-twenties, I wondered why Christian publishers stopped using our genre’s obvious world-view strength. Other philosophers employed spec-fic shelves, how had we dropped-the-ball? Asimov, Heinlein and Leiber had taught me that speculative fiction grants total creative license of setting and character—make an issue believable to your reader, and it’s just part of the story. Narnia and Middle Earth now tasted too allegorical. Lewis’ Space Trilogy inspired me, but his prose was thirty years old. Entertaining spec-fic, in modern English—the perfect delivery system for providing new-believes with meat. I’d found my motivation.
RLM You’ve initiated or combined forces with others to publicize what you term bib-spec-fic. What are some of the steps you’ve taken?
FC: I have to smile. It’s not as organized as you make it sound. Even though we shared memberships a few news-groups, Daniel I. Weaver and I officially met six months ago. We shared ideas. Next thing you know, Dan’s founded a spec-fic critique group, I’ve formed the Lost Genre Guild, and we’re both included in the Light at the Edge of Darkness anthology. It’s been a blur. We’ve just been developing ideas and opportunities as they’ve appeared, and this is where He’s led us.
Two months ago it occurred to me how many debates I’ve seen about what Christian fiction should be. Do Christian authors glorify God through overt Biblical themes, or should we be writing general fiction-of-quality, and then credit Him as our Maker? As if God gave us all the same motivations, purposes, and gifts. As if one position were right and the other wrong. I don’t see this as an either-or proposition. Does the confusion center around the term Christian fiction? What if there were another term with which to create a distinction? Biblical fiction was born, and bib-spec-fic became a natural place to start.
RLM You mentioned the Lost Genre Guild. What is that and what are your goals for such an organization?
FC: The Lost Genre Guild is an organization through which authors of Christianity’s Lost Genre can promote our genre, and our fiction ministries. The LGG’s domain is still rough. Our tools are press releases, Web-forums, a list of endorsed works, group e-mail, the LGG blog, and a members’ database for promotion and networking. Membership is free, but we may eventually employ a publicist and require that published members pay a membership fee. The LGG will not seek to profit from this fee.
RLM You and I have talked about collaborating on a publication. Explain a little about what we’re hoping to put out.
FC: We envision a bib-spec-fic thumbnail of industry news, published author events, contests, conferences, and opportunities. We intend on keeping subscribers more genre-informed than they’d ever thought possible. That’s all for now, but keep your ears-on.
RLM In an ideal publishing world, what would you like to see for science fiction and fantasy written from a Biblical worldview?
FC: Speculative fiction is the best-selling secular fiction genre. Sci-fi has been called “the handmaiden of philosophy.” (Thought Probes, Fred D. Miller, Nicholas D. Smith, Prentice-Hall). We have a laser-sharp ministry tool, but none can free it from the stone. I understand that publishers make decisions based on risk and profit potential. Authors and fans are out there. I’d like to see the publisher that realizes our market niche, and fills it.
RLM: From your perspective, what’s the most important thing a Christian writer of speculative fiction should know?
FC: Two things. One: faith. Step-out in faith. Live at the intersection of your talent and passion. If you want assurances, open a savings account. If bib-spec-fic is your calling, do what He created you to do, and leave the rest to Him. If He’s with you, none can stand against.
Two: If this is your calling, learn the craft. Qualitative fiction of any genre will eventually break through. Easier said than done? No. Don’t need no library card, don’t need to buy books. Do it for the cost of your ISP. Seek out critique groups, join groups, and read posted critiques. When you find yourself learning from a critiquer, seek out their critiques of other works. There’s no faster way to learn the craft.
RLM: Thanks, Frank. I look forward to what God will accomplish as we work together.
If you’d like to take a look at Frank’s book review blog (where he posts for the CSFF Blog Tour), I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. Or leave questions here and I’ll see if I can convince him to stop by later to field them.