I believe in fantasy. In my head that statement sounds kind of like a tentative but stubborn first grader insisting, “I believe in Santa Claus.” The first grader stares down his classmates—those fairy tale killers—and dares them to argue with him. And hopes to St. Nick they won’t. Without consciously recognizing it, he knows he teeters on the brink of something big, important, and life-changing. After all, presents are involved.
I have a lot in common with that first grader. I grew up reading fantasy. I also grew up in a strong Christian home. I remember detecting the allegory of Aslan dying to pay Edmund’s debt. I remember understanding how the ring poisoned Frodo just as evil poisons us. Each time I unwrapped a Biblical meaning within a fantastical story, I applauded mentally, oohing and ahhing over my discovery.
Fast forward . . . ahem. . . a few years and I stand on a brink of my own life-changing question. Can I still believe in fantasy? Can I wield its symbolic weapons to pierce my own writing with the truths I believe?
I’m well-aware of the wonderful authors writing Christian fantasy/allegory/speculative fiction today. How could I not be aware when one of them is my mother, Donita K. Paul? If you follow general fiction trends, it seems readers are interested in paranormal stories more than ever. And with traditional publishers and small presses like Marcher Lord Press dedicated to producing high quality Christian speculative fiction, it seems now is the time for this genre to boom.
I decided to jump into the swirling waters of Christian fantasy with a supernatural romance novel meant for Christian audiences. I wanted to take my love of mythical creatures, my affection for allegory, and my fascination with God’s multi-faceted love and roll them all into a story about a human woman who discovers a love so big, so complete, so otherworldly that it scares her. I explored what it might be like to see the unselfish love of Jesus embodied in a creature defined by mythology as a sort of house servant—a brownie.
Unfortunately, although I’ve received some very flattering feedback from editors who’ve looked at this project, the general consensus is, “We’re not ready for this.” You can interpret the ‘We’ in that sentence to mean editors, publishing boards, marketing departments, or Christian readers. Probably any of those nouns fit the bill.
So here’s my question for you, the readers of Backseat Writer: Are you ready?
I’d love to hear your honest feedback. Do you want to see the supernatural romance genre on the shelf at your local Christian bookstore? Or do you think this sort of thing only belongs in the YA section of Barnes and Noble, next to the Twilight series and all its imitators?
I welcome your comments. But you should know—as I set my chin and stick out my lower lip—that’ll I’ll still believe in fantasy even if you tell me it’s all just silly make-believe.
Evangeline Denmark has storytelling on her heart and in her blood. The daughter of novelist, Donita K. Paul, Evangeline grew up living and breathing good stories. She has co-authored two children’s books which are under contract with Waterbrook Press and also writes adult fiction. Evangeline is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, serving as chapter secretary.