Posts Tagged 'Fantasy'

Is Fantasy Only for Kids? No Way!

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure where this idea that fantasy is only for kids came from. I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy since middle school. I started with Madeline L’Engle and Andre Norton, progressed to Heinlein, Asimov, and Herbert. I read C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy as a teen, and unbeliever, and had no idea they were allegorical (I found Perelandra to be boring, and That Hideous Strength incomprehensible – they were better when I reread them ten years later as a believer).

Anyway, I never would have thought any of those were “for children,” not even Lord of the Rings which I devoured in high school. Yes, it has dwarves and hobbits and some funny bits, but the devotion to fantastical histories, the density of the prose and the sheer expanse of the tale was unlike any kids’ books I was familiar with.

From there it was Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Watership Down, Patricia McKillip, Anne McCaffrey, C.J. Cherryh, Katherine Kurtz, Stephen Donaldson, and more recently, Robert Jordan and Robin Hobb.

With the exception of Watership Down, I would never have considered any of these writers or books as being for children. Thus it never even entered my mind when I began writing fantasies of my own, that they should be written for children. As I detail in my article Why I Write Fantasy (see the tab above), my intent in part was to analogize the angelic conflict all Christians have been entered in at the moment of new birth after believing in Christ. And I didn’t wish to do it in a simplistic manner. It was also, particularly with Legends of the Guardian King, to trace the trajectory of a man’s spiritual life from unbelief to salvation and on through the various stages of spiritual growth.

Clearly the issues on my radar would be issues faced by an adult, not a child. The spiritual precepts would include those wrestled with by adults, not children.

It was not until I entered the field of Christian Fantasy, that I discovered — to my great dismay — the assumption that all fantasy is for children or young adults and should therefore be “clean” and free of sex or “gruesome” or “extreme” violence. I had well-meaning acquaintances tell me how they had given or recommended my books to the eleven-year-old boy next door, or their nine-year-old nephew.

It’s possible an eleven-year-old could follow the main line of the action, but much of the meat of the story I would think would go right over his head. Not that that’s a bad thing. I read my own share of books just that way – following the action, or certain story lines while the bulk of what was going on remained out of my grasp… (Lord of the Rings comes to mind in that regard – my perception of it as a 40+ year old was far different than when I was 16). It’s just… middle school kids were never my primary audience, and here I was facing a mindset that assumed they were not just my primary audience but my only audience!

And since I was writing for kids… how dare I insert into my book the heresy of having my – adult, male, spiritually disillusioned and until-then-celibate – hero commit a sexual sin! I received irate letters from grandmothers who bought the novel for their grandsons, forced to tear the offending two pages from the book before they could pass it on.

Outraged reviews turned up from mothers on Amazon and Christian Book dot com who, having read the book to make sure it was suitable for their young sons, had discovered it wasn’t. How dare I try to trick them like that and put such a thing in a Christian fantasy!

I remain bemused. I know in time past the entire field of speculative fiction was regarded as juvenile and struggled to gain legitimacy as acceptable reading material for American adults. The reason, supposedly was because none of it was “real.”

This objection has been nullified for science fiction for the most part as more and more of what went for science fiction in the old days has become science fact in ours.

So that leaves fantasy, the last bastion of the “make believe” and the “not real” and only children believe in such … well… fantasies.

As if many romances today are not “fantasy”; or many detective and spy novels! And what about Stephen King and Dean Koontz? Most of what they write about is “not real,” but somehow their books are not seen as “only for children.” In fact they are not seen as being for children at all. (Particularly King’s).

So why does fantasy still have the bad rap of being kidstuff?

The only answer I can think of is that it really does provide an excellent vehicle for portraying truths of the Christian life related to the angelic conflict. And since part of the intent of the opposition force in that conflict is to hide the fact that it exists… well then…. The one genre that people should pay the least attention to is the one that can actually reveal the most about what is really going on… and historically has.

Which makes the whole kidstuff thing almost… acceptable.  Almost.

For a more detailed treatise on all the ways fantasy does what it does, see my aforementioned article in the tabs above: “Why I Write Fantasy.” And if you want to know more about the angelic conflict, check out the tab called “The Angelic Conflict.”

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Light of Eidon Scrapbook

Continuing my series highlighting the first book in my Legends of the Guardian King series, The Light of Eidon, I thought today I’d draw your attention to the scrapbook I developed for it, similar to the one I did for Arena.

In it I put up several photos of the ancient Nabatean city of Petra, which served as inspiration for the canyons of the SaHal in which the action plays out at the end of the book. There’s even a link to a virtual tour of the area.

Also included is a picture of an LL Bean model from the late 70’s that served as the inspiration for Abramm,

some information on swords, a map of the city of Jarnek,

and a cartoon that was pinned to my bulletin board for years.   If you’ve read The Light of Eidon, you’ll probably get the connection. If not… well… as you know, it’s being offered free as an e-book this week HERE… or you can try your local library. Amazon even has a few paper copies both new and used for sale…

To visit my scrapbook for The Light of Eidon, click HERE.

 

Retrospection — The Sale of Light of Eidon

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been going through some of my old files, and coming across things I wrote almost ten years ago.  One such writing was the story of how The Light of Eidon sold. In light of the special e-book offer Bethany House has this month on that book, as well as the recent re-package, re-release of my first novel Arena, I thought now might be an appropriate time to revisit those golden days when I was a newly published novelist.

This was back in 2002 when Arena was published, 26 years or so after I started writing what would eventually become The Light of Eidon, a fantasy which I had been told would never sell. In fact I had just begun working on a “bridge book,”  something partway between Arena and Eidon, in hopes it might sell and win readers and maybe publishers would decide to take a chance with my fantasy series. Ironically, that book was The Other Side of the Sky, which I am currently working on for Bethany House now. God’s timing is so not our timing!

Anyway, here’s the story, excerpted and edited from our Christmas letter of that year…

So here we are again, looking back over the last year to see what we have to tell about.  It’s been a big one, as the seasons of our lives have changed again.

As most of you know, the big thing for me was the release of my first novel Arena in May. It has been an adventure, and not at all what I expected.

My first reaction upon receiving a fan letter was something closer to outrage than joy. “What? Why is this person I don’t even know talking about MY characters? They’re mine. Strangers can’t have them!

“And what is this book-like thing with the multiple arches on the front and the title Arena? That’s not MY book. My book is a stack of manuscript pages.”

Original Cover

New Cover

Autographing books also felt all wrong at first, like something other people were supposed to do, not me.

Yes, I have adjusted and the Lord has blessed Arena’s release in marvelous ways: a good review and profile in Publisher’s Weekly (rare for Christian novels, rarer still for Christian first novels and unheard of for Christian first, science fiction novels), a contract with both the Crossings and Literary Guild book clubs, a contract with one of the largest Christian publishers in the Netherlands and a continuous stream of encouraging fan letters. After all these years the writing is finally being validated in a very satisfying way.

However, none of that compares to the biggest blessing of all.

Last year at this time I knew Arena was coming out, but had no idea what I was going to do next. I’d been told over and over that fantasy doesn’t sell, no one wants fantasy, fantasy is a bad word in the Christian market. I’d even taken to calling my next book “speculative historical fiction,” to avoid using the word.

I went to a writer’s conference this past spring and learned lots of good stuff about marketing which I was not at all eager to do. Still, I figured if I worked really hard at it, and Arena did well enough, maybe Bethany House will consider taking on my fantasy.

Ha! The Lord certainly showed me how important my efforts are (not very) and that when He is going to do a thing, He does it.

Arena had not even been officially released when my editor called. The reviews and feedback coming in on it were so good, he said, the marketing people wanted something else from me as soon as possible.

“So,” he added, “what do you have?”

An editor actually called me up and asked what I had lying around the house! This, they tell you in all the writing books, NEVER happens!

So I told him I had The Light of Eidon.

He said, “Go on,”

I told him it was finished.  “Go on.”

I told him it was part of a four-part series, of which the second book was also finished in rough draft…

Bottom line: within two weeks Bethany House had signed me to a four-book contract for the fantasy series. We’re calling it Legends of the Guardian King, with The Light of Eidon, Book One, due to release next summer.

Talk about a miracle! Now I am not only a “published author” but I also get to have the experience of writing with a deadline as I work to complete the first submission draft of Book Two, The Shadow Within, by next summer.

New Interview: Moon Drenched Fables

Before I left for California I completed an interview for the online fantasy fiction magazine Moon Drenched Fables. That interview is now posted and you can read it HERE.

A New Review of an Old Book, Plus a Link

Today in the course of working on my website, I had to go to Amazon to get page links for all my books and was delighted to discover there was, of all things, a new review on The Light of Eidon page. It was really cool.

Generally I don’t like to single any particular review out, because I love all my reviews (well, except for the negative ones that say I can’t write and reading my books is more boring than watching paint dry) and I deeply appreciate the fact that anyone would take time out to write one. This one, however, was so unexpected in the first place — after all, it’s Enclave that’s releasing not Eidon— it was a pleasant surprise in my day. Not only because it was very kind to the series, but it brought up an element near and dear to my heart that few others have noted to this degree — and that’s the fact my characters grow. Since that is the point of the whole Guardian King series, to take a man from spiritual death, through salvation and on to spiritual maturity, it’s gratifying when someone notices and comments on it. I also appreciated the observation that when you focus on character growth, the characters are probably going to start out flawed and perhaps not terribly likable. But that’s probably one of my favorite stories: the transformation of wimp to hero..

Posted June 26
By  Berean Hunger – See all my reviews

It’s not often that I find a work of Christian fiction that genuinely challenges me in my walk with God, but The Legends of the Guardian-King series did just that.

I have never before read a series that so clearly and captivatingly captured the Biblical concept of walking in light versus walking in darkness. Hancock has wrapped deep truth in a fascinating and complex story. Following these characters through their mistakes, triumphs, and both good and bad choices really made me think of the power of what I choose to believe and whether I appropriate truth or not.

“Light of Eidon,” I will admit, doesn’t start off as captivating as “Arena” did, but keep reading. One of my favorite things about Hancock’s writings is that her characters GROW, and this requires starting off not being as likable as we might want. I love this because it mirrors real life and I actually learn, rather than just watching a perfect person go though life.

Karen Hancock has renewed my faith that God can challenge His church through fiction. Her grasp of Biblical truth is evident, as is her dependence on God to help her communicate truth.

~~~~~
So thank you very much, Berean Hunger. And thank you to everyone else who’s ever posted a review of my books. I really do appreciate each one of them.

Originally this was to be the extent of my posting today, since I spent the bulk of my time working on the formatting of a My Bookspage, which is almost but not quite ready for “publication.” But then Mary Hugill posted another knock-out post on her blog tonight about some of her own spiritual growth issues which were realized through her experiences in homeschooling. It was such a great post I had to link to it:  A New Direction in My Life.  If you’re interested in homeschooling, spiritual growth or bible doctrine, please hop over and give it a read.  You won’t be sorry!


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