In my previous posts I have explored a little of what our work can mean for us and our readers, and for myself as a reader of speculative fiction. The more I ponder it, and the more I read of the other posts on this blog, the more I have come to the conclusion that my heart’s goal all along has been to change lives with the Lost Genre. I don’t know if that’s everyone’s ideal, but I do know that its effect can range from the beginnings of granting someone an escape from a hard life to a beautiful world for a few hours, all the way to actually influencing someone to accept Christ. To be honest, I would be happy with anything between these two extremes.
There are books that show such strength of character that it cannot help but change me as I read it – for example, Lawhead’s Merlin, Hancock’s Arena, or beyond spec-fic, Alcott’s Little Women, just to name a few. There are books that expand the horizons of the possible, like Empyrion, or the Narnia stories, or indeed most if not all of the Lost Genre. Yes, it blows my mind. But I enjoy having my mind blown, and when my horizons have been expanded, I can think outside the box, I can see beyond my immediate situation and grasp hope for my future.
Sometimes after reading a particularly mind-expanding tale, it has the effect on me that I start coming up with ideas for my own writing. Sometimes it’s an adrenaline rush as plots and ideas are hammered out in my mind before I can even reach for pen and paper. I don’t mean copying, but simply an inspiration set free by glowing examples to fly further than I ever dreamed, discovering even more strange new worlds that never existed before. And as we all know, a little inspiration must be followed by a great deal of perspiration if we want to get anywhere at all.
I am very interested in “genre crossover” books – Lost Genre stories able to be read by people who profess no interest in speculative fiction. Maybe it’s the “foot in the door” that can broaden our niche readership. For example, “An Alien at St. Wilfred’s” by Adrian Plass. Here, a visit from a childlike alien, perpetually asking simple questions, causes an Anglican priest and an assortment of parishioners to penetrate the darkness in their own souls. It’s a tale of deep brokenness and honesty and healing, a tale of very ordinary people, except that one of them is an alien. My friend, not a LG fan, read it and loved it, although she did say the presence of the alien was a little disturbing. Even so, this book still has the potential to touch someone very deeply AND win another reader for the genre.
I’m sure we all agree that inviting the Lost Genre into our lives is a significant change and a valuable enrichment!
Of course I would be the first to agree that hard-core LG is worthy of pursuit, and as Frank said in his interview, there is a place for all varieties and all angles and purposes. No need to fight over that. Still, for myself at this point, I would like to hope that my writing is just this kind of “soft-core” speculative fiction, that it’s all about people who aren’t so different to us, with enough speculative aspects to broaden horizons, give hope, and perhaps even be enjoyable for readers who may be just beginning to discover the genre.
And, my friends, if we can manage that, then the world is ours for the taking…
(sorry this is late! I wasn't at home this week and couldn't log in to Blogger from Geneva... well, better late than never?)