Bryan Davis: It
started with a dream about a boy who could breathe fire. I wasnít a
fantasy fan at the time, and Iím still pretty picky about which fantasy
stories I like, so it didnít occur to me that this was a story idea until
I told my oldest son about the dream. He suggested that I make it into a
was your first idea for a Christian speculative novel received (by anyone:
spouse, friends, parents, agent, publisher, readers, reviewers,
children were excited about it, as were all young readers who gave it a
look. But publishers and agents thought it was: a) not marketable, b) inappropriate, c) evil, and/or d) whatóare you crazy? I survived seven years and two
hundred rejections before Raising Dragons got
hundred rejections on one novel? My goodness, but you're persistent.
Aspiring writers, take note: Bryan believed in his story so much that
he weathered 200 rejections and still stood by it. Do you have that kind
of commitment? Better to find out now. Okay, Bryan, what is
your favorite speculative genre to read? To write? If theyíre different,
talk about that.
Bryan Davis: I enjoy
reading and writing fantasy that has a real world feel, something that has
Earth beings as the main characters. I usually donít enjoy works that take
place in other worlds in which every character or creature is completely
different than those Iím familiar with. All those strange names get stuck
in my mind, and the world building often gets tedious.
would you characterize the current state of Christian speculative fiction
writing and/or publishing?
small but growing. When Raising Dragons came out in
June of 2004, I could count recent fantasy novels from CBA on one hand and
have a finger or two left over. Now I would have to count fingers and toes
and still jot a few strokes on a separate page to count them
else have you seen that encourages you about Christian speculative fiction
writing and/or publishing?
Bryan Davis: I
am encouraged that publishers are willing to take a chance on speculative
fiction, that they see value in something that isnít yet a mature market.
That means they might not break even. Stepping out on faith is a healthy
WhereTheMapEnds: Amen. What
have you seen that discourages or frustrates you about Christian
speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?
writers send me their manuscripts for evaluation. They are so hopeful and
trying so hard! But they so often are writing the same old stories, a
remake of Lord of the Rings or Narnia or
Alice in Wonderland
or whatever. They love fantasy, so they write what they have
read, but they are digging a rut and spinning their wheels. This isnít
true only in aspiring authors, but sometimes in what is appearing on the
shelves. No, I wonít name titles, but I am concerned that some CBA editors
donít yet recognize what makes for good speculative fiction. It has to be
original or at least carry a bizarre new
WhereTheMapEnds: That's a
great point about some fiction editors not knowing what's
already out there in speculative fiction. And if the editors (people who
tend to be book lovers) don't have it, you have to know that many of
the folks in the marketing and sales departments don't, either.
That's nothing against those good people. They can't help what they
haven't been exposed to. But it does help us understand when some CBA
houses don't seem to know what to do with the few speculative fiction
titles they acquire. So, Bryan, what would
you like to see changed regarding Christian speculative fiction writing
Bryan Davis: I
would like to see writers break out of the expected ďChristianĒ mold.
There seems to be a terrible trend that you have to create sin-laden
protagonists in order to make the story Christian. I believe just the
opposite. I believe people like to read about heroes, someone they can
look up to, someone who will stretch them. Iím not talking about creating
invincible superheroes, but real people who experience temptations, doubt,
and fears, yet overcome them by the guiding principles in their
WhereTheMapEnds: Another great
point. I think some of that is because writers are trying to make their
stories acceptable to Christian publishing houses. I think it's also
because the speculative novel an editor can get through the approval
process at a CBA house is sometimes quite different from the speculative
novel he or she would like to see published. Publishing committees are
often so tentative about speculative fiction that the books they consider
are held to a more rigorous set of standards than, say, a prairie romance.
I maintain that C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and even Frank Perreti and Ted
Dekker couldn't be published in a CBA house today. Okay, back to you,
do you think Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing will
look like in three years? Five years? Ten years?
Bryan Davis: If
publishers create the kinds of stories I mentioned above, I think the
market will continue to grow for years, because the books will be new,
exciting, and uplifting. If, however, speculative fiction gets dragged
into the typical defeatist stories we see in much Christian fiction, I
think the genre will grow for a couple of years and then fade again,
because the stories will be the same old
WhereTheMapEnds: Ouch. I hope
it's the former. Tell us, Bryan, what
advice would you give to someone who aspires to write and publish
Christian speculative fiction?
out of the box. Donít try to write Lord of the Rings
version 9.7. Create heroes, the kind of people you would like to be.
Create scenarios and devices that are really, really strange, so strange
you might wonder if people in your church will look at you funny after
reading your book.
WhereTheMapEnds: You mean it's
not normal for people in my church to look at me funny? Hmm. So tell us:
the best book or seminar on fiction writing you know?
are very hard to choose, but two that I have found helpful are a pair of
standards, Self-editing for Fiction Writers (Browne
& King) and Techniques of the Selling Writer
the best part about writing and publishing Christian speculative