Should You Write Christian Speculative Fiction?
by Jessica E. Thomas | September 28, 2020
If asked whether “Christian Speculative Fiction author” is a viable career path, I would think for a millisecond. Then I would say:
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
Whether or not you should take the plunge into Christian Speculative Fiction depends on your goals. Do you want to evangelize? Do you want to edify the Body of Christ? Do you want to make money?
But first let’s talk about what Christian Speculative Fiction is.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN SPECULATIVE FICTION?
Sub-genres include, but are not limited to urban fantasy, steampunk, dystopian, alternate history, space opera, supernatural, apocalyptic and the list goes on.
What makes fiction “Christian” is up for debate but can include anything from overt preaching to subtle Christian themes. I would argue that stories with subtle Christian themes can cross over into the general speculative fiction market, but stories that are overtly Christian cannot.
Even if the story’s Christian themes are subtle, some readers may feel blind-sided and offended by any Christian content. Unfortunately, you may hear about it in the form of negative reviews.
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY, AVOID CHRISTIAN SPECULATIVE FICTION
I hate to say it, but it’s true.
I’ve been in online Christian Speculative Fiction circles since 2008. I’ve made great friendships with people I still converse with, and I’ve enjoyed my time in the community; however, I am underwhelmed by the growth of the genre.
For Christian spec-fic authors wanting to go the traditional route, the outlook is bad. Christian publishing houses are more afraid of speculative fiction than ever.
Also, have you noticed the Christian fiction section at Barnes & Noble? Last time I checked, it wasn’t there.
For Christian authors wanting to go indie, the news is a little better. I’ve been around long enough to see Realm Makers grow from a twinkle in Rebecca and Scott Minor’s eyes to a vibrant online community and yearly conference. It seems younger Christians are more open to “weird” fiction.
Nevertheless, the audience still isn’t big enough to support a full-time writer. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see many indie Christian speculative fiction authors making six figure salaries. Maybe some are, but if so, they’re being very quiet about it.
It seems Christian spec-fic authors are still stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side is the secular world, which is increasingly hostile to all things Christian. On the other side are Christians who avoid “weird” fiction because they equate it with the occult.
This means the potential audience for Christian spec-fic is discouragingly anemic. The outlook may change as younger Christians grow into adulthood. But personally? I don’t want to wait. I want to make money now.
THE CHRISTIAN SPECULATIVE MARKET IS GROWING
I know I sound like party-pooper, but take heart: the news isn’t all bad. The Christian spec-fic market may be growing slowly, but it is growing. Realm Makers has become a haven for many young authors who want to create stories that don’t compromise their spiritual beliefs. It’s a think tank, a support group, an oasis.
Enclave Publishing is a well-respected publisher that focuses exclusively on Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy and is a go-to for many who enjoy the genre.
These organizations are glimmers of hope for aspiring Christian spec-fic authors.
And of course, there’s always the option to go indie.
If your goals include making a positive impact, edifying the Body of Christ, or evangelizing to the lost, then the Christian Speculative Fiction community is the perfect place to be. Professional success doesn’t require financial gain, and there are many authors who are content keeping their full-time jobs. The lucky ones have spouses who bring in the bacon.
SHOULD YOU WRITE CHRISTIAN SPECULATIVE FICTION?
Knowing the caveats, only you can decide if the Christian Speculative Fiction market is right for you. As for me, I have a dystopian science fiction novel marketed as Christian in Amazon, but I have no plans to file my future novels under a Christian category heading.
My stories will always be infused with a Christian worldview. As an author, I can’t lay my spiritual beliefs to the side when I write. But I don’t want to rely on a Christian readership for my success, because, quite simply, I’d like to make money.
What are your thoughts? Am I being too cynical? After reading my opinions, do you think the Christian Speculative Fiction market right for you?
Jessica E. Thomas graduated summa cum laude with Academic Honors in Writing from Ball State University, receiving a Bachelor of Science in English and a Minor in Creative Writing. She began her professional career in marketing at a large Indianapolis law firm. Since transitioning to Information Technology in 2001, she has worked in the pharmaceutical, student loan, and finance industries as a computer programmer, systems analyst, Web developer, and technical writer. She has authored two novels, three novellas, a poetry collection, a short story collection, and a children’s book.