Interview with author V. B. Tenery

What is your motivation for writing?

From childhood, I’ve been a voracious reader. That evolved into wanting to tell exciting stories from a Christian viewpoint, to show through action and plot there is always a loving God who cares and watches over us.

My least favorite thing about writing, is writing about myself.
I’d rather write a 100,000-word novel with a hammer and chisel on stone tablets, in the dark, while fighting off wolves, while . . . oh well, you get the picture.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing seriously for about ten years, but I began keeping a journal almost as soon as I learned to write. That however, fell by the wayside in my teens. A few years ago, I ran across one of my old diaries. It was reallllly bad. It seems my insecurities surfaced at an early age.

Any mentors or role models?

A couple of professors in college were kind. And when I joined a faith based writing group, there were many generous souls willing to encourage and help a newbie improve her craft.

In speculative fiction, I’ve been influenced by the writings of C.S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Frank Peretti, and many others too numerous to list.

Why do you write Biblical speculative fiction?

I never considered writing anything else. It felt natural to incorporate my beliefs into the stories I told. In speculative fiction, I was attracted to the no boundaries aspects. I could create exciting new worlds and the characters could be as strange or normal as my mind could conceive.

The Christian community has varying opinions on the appropriateness of speculative fiction. Can you explain your take on the compatibility between speculative fiction and your Christian worldview?

Fortunately, this has not been an issue for me. With the exception of one person, the speculative fiction I’ve written has been well received in the various Christian critique groups I’ve joined. I believe the key word is fiction. All fiction genres are figments of the imagination. Does God prefer one over the other? I think not. I try to honor Him with all that I do, not just in writing. If He’s happy, I’m happy.

What length of fiction do you prefer to write?

I prefer writing novels. They allow me to develop the characters and plot more fully. However, I do write a number of short stories. I don’t always need 60,000 words to tell the story running around in my brain.

What writing techniques work best for you in terms of character, plot, setting development?

Initially, I was a confirmed seat-of-the-pants writer, until I became familiar with Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method . I’m now a convert to his system. It includes a spreadsheet to track your chapters and timeline. As a bonus, the spreadsheet easily converts into a synopsis when you’ve finished.

Keeping detailed charts on the main characters has become second nature. As my story develops, it gives me freedom to add a new character or two that mesh with the original cast. BTW This is not a paid political announcement. Many of Randy’s writing techniques are available on his website free of charge.

Any advice for Christian and new writers in general?

Join a good critique group as soon as you can. The feedback is invaluable, but use the advice with discretion. Stay true to the story God laid on your heart. If you write Christian fiction, write to honor God, and pray continually for guidance.

New writers should also realize discouragement will come, even from family and well-meaning friends. Anything you do for the Lord will always be challenged. Just keep the faith.

When do you write?

I write daily with a set goal, i.e. number of words, excluding weekends. That doesn’t mean I never write on weekends, I just don’t schedule it.

Any particular environments?

I’ve always been more comfortable writing at the computer in my bedroom. It’s quiet and the window overlooks the forest. I find that soothing. My muse comes calling usually early mornings and sometimes late at night. I can write in my jammies without disturbing anyone.

I did, however, actually compose the outline for Adino on my way home from Wal-Mart. Stemming from a period when my vision was very bad, I developed a selective memory. I can write a complete chapter in my head and retain it until I get to a computer. The talent remained after my vision improved. Don’t ask me the day of the week, however. That, I don’t always retain.

Do you do any research for your writing?

Most writers I know do research up front. I do some upfront, some when I write, and the balance at the end. I find if I get heavily involved in details at the beginning, I lose the inspiration. That said, I’m currently writing a time travel piece, The Saint of Son Tay, about a Vietnamese POW camp. I’ve had to collect the background information at the beginning to stay true to the period—reading as many novels as I can find written by POW’s of that era.

Where do I go for information? I’m glad you ask. I use Goggle, Ask.com, the library, etc., and often pick the brains of fellow critique partners. In one group I have a cop and a nurse. They’ve both given wonderful technical advice on many occasions.

Who do you think would most likely enjoy your fiction?

That’s a good question. I don’t like to set an age limit on the audience that might enjoy what I write. Christian speculative fiction fans would certainly be the first to be drawn to my stories. But, I like to think that anyone who relishes an exciting story with compelling characters would like "Adino" and The Watchman, my current novel in progress.

Do your stories/ novels have any common themes or threads?

I’m a Pollyanna. I admit it. Therefore, my work uses the standard good verses evil themes. My protagonist may lose the battle, but he/she will always win the war, even if it’s in the afterlife.

What can you tell us about "Adino" which is included in Light at the Edge of Darkness?

The inspiration for the courtroom scene came from a true incident in Rock Springs, Wyoming in I believe the late eighties or nineties. The uniqueness of the old west shoot-out in a modern setting intrigued me. Likewise, a piece I read about some badly misinformed person who tried to resurrect Baal worship, became part of the tale. I merely put the two together and it became "Adino."

Read more about V.B. Tenery at The Lost Genre Guild website


Can (good) Speculative Fiction be Unspeculative?

By Andrea J. Graham

Biblical Speculative Fiction. What do you think when you hear this term? I know what I picture when I hear the abbreviation, “Bib-spec-fic”, a speck of dirt on a fickle baby's bib. Okay, so perhaps I jest a bit. But I know when I mentioned the genre at Church, I got a blank look, followed by, “What's that?” And I didn't even mention the “biblical” add-on.

Of course, what we actually mean is, “stories that spring from a what-if, such as science fiction and fantasy, that are written from a solid biblical world view.” But that's even more of a mouthful.

Yet some will hear “Biblical SF” and think, “Awkward cross between the SF and biblical genres.”

To that, I say: What's so awkward about it?

You don't have to have a Super Book-like time travel gimmick in your story to turn to the bible for plot ideas for your SF story. We're modern writers as well as Christians, and the bible is timeless. Why can't you place King David, for instance, in the midst of a high-tech future, in outer space, or even on another planet? Or Gideon. Or Jesus.

Not comfortable with yanking Jesus out of time? No problem. You don't have to. Remember, Jesus said in John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And greater works than this shall you do, for I go unto my father.”

Too blatant? It doesn't have to be. The author led to find inspiration for a pre/evangelistic piece this way could choose an obscure story. Or mix different stories together. It doesn't have to be so obvious, as long as you're respectful to the message of the original Book--and of course we are--you can mesh elements together until you could slip scripture right past an unsuspecting non-Christian without them even noticing. Set David and Bathsheba on a space station with high-tech gadgetry, change their names, and what happens? Or Ruth or Esther. The judges are especially great, because the odds are, they won't be so familiar with the story.

Personally, I love to use these kind of allusions for subplots. There are quite a few in the world of Heaven's Mark, which my contributions to Light at the Edge of Darkness belong to. For instance, parts of Jepthah (Judges 11) and Gideon helped inspire Snyder. And we drew from Ruth, Esther, and Revelation 12 for Gabrielle of Washington, our heroine in Heaven's Mark.

Would it be easy? Heck no, writing rarely is, but who doesn't love a good challenge?

If you're still having trouble grasping this, it's not even necessary, in my view, to draw from any particular bible stories for it to be biblical. You don't even have to turn to the prophecy books, for that matter. But those books are quite useful to us, as, in a way, they themselves are speculative fiction.

At least they were from the prophet's point in time. If Isaiah, for instance, were writing his prophecy today, what would it look like? Perchance, would he write a speculative fiction story or series that from our vantage point would read like the biblical fiction novel, “The Greatest Story Ever Told?” Of course, I imagine the messiah would be named, “Emmanuel” in his version. But it would be considered a speculative fiction novel(ette) in his day. Only on the Emmaus road would a “mysterious” man point out Isaiah said this would all happen so many years ago.

Which leads us to the title question--is speculative fiction ever not speculative?

If a story is framed around a what if, such as the future, and founded upon biblical truth, I would say yes, that speculative fiction story is not speculative, at least in the sense of uncertain, as biblical truth is the one certainty we have in this world. But placing that truth in a speculative frame work will open it up to people who would never consider it otherwise.

Personally, an unspeculative speculative fiction story sounds like just the sort of thing my God would come up with. He loves to shake things up. And what better genre to accomplish that end than Biblical SF?


Thirst for the Supernatural - by Karri Compton

This post was written by Karri Compton.

Thirst for the Supernatural

Most of us, unless we’re dogged humanists or atheists, believe in something that is beyond ourselves. We rationally theorize, or perhaps fully believe in the unseen (albeit unfathomable) reality that exists beyond our natural sight.

After all, God created man in His own image, and God has the most expansive, creative imagination ever. Who of us could have conceptualized an iota of the detail that pervades our earth, solar system, and galaxy? Nuclei with neutrons and electrons spinning about them to produce matter, DNA, black holes, fission, gravity, animal instinct, procreation--you name it, God thought of it first.

Without reverting back to the late 80’s and the demon-behind-every-rock era, I’d like to see more speculation on the supernatural from biblical worldview fiction. Peretti started it, but we need not repeat his plots and methods. Ideas are as numerous as the stars. At the least, new supernatural themes will make people think. At the most, they will change lives forever.

But how do we portray the supernatural? After all, it’s something most of us can’t see, feel, hear or touch. Traditionally, stories of spiritual warfare involved angels and/or demons. But this only scratches the surface.

Two other ways the supernatural has been revealed to people in the Bible are through dreams and visions. Some of the dreamers in the Bible include Jacob, Joseph, Solomon and Daniel. God even gave dreams to non-believers in order to gain glory for Himself (Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh). Visions are recorded a myriad of times in the Bible as well, usually given to prophets or apostles in warning to God’s people or to send the recipient to a certain people group.

Authors such as Brandilyn Collins, Robert Whitlow, T.L. Hines, Mark Andrew Olsen, Melanie Wells, John Aubrey Anderson write characters who experience these.

One of my short stories features a twenty-five-year-old girl who has inherited a pocket watch with extraordinary powers from her grandfather. It helps her see into the past in order to establish a relationship with her estranged father. Odd, yes. Impossible? I think not. And in fiction, we can do almost anything while entertaining and weaving in important themes.

I think it’s important as Christians to introduce non-believers to and remind ourselves of the unseen. As Elisha prayed for his servant to see the chariots of fire surrounding their enemies, so we can point others to God with stories that show something fantastic, something that only God can do, something normally unseen.

I’m not a great idea-creating person, but the Creator is, and I keep praying He will give me and others a vision for the supernatural and how we can make it more appealing to our readers.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18


Interview with author A.P. Fuchs

What is your motivation for writing?

As cliché a response as this is, the reason I’m a writer is because I have to.

I’ve “lived in my head” ever since I could remember, coming up with one fantasy after another. It was always about stories to me and when I was old enough to realize one could making a living “making stuff up,” I started to pursue that route. My first intention was to be a comic book artist. I even went to school for it but when that school didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain by not teaching us all they had promised (and charged us a life savings for it to boot), I switched my attention to the written word, at the time bitter toward anything “artistic.” That was back in early-to-mid 2000 and I’ve been writing seriously since. I began publishing in 2003.

Why do you write biblical speculative fiction?

Biblical speculative fiction is a new venue for me and I’m relatively new at it with three Christian pieces to my name in that genre. My first was the first novel my Ark of Light series entitled The Way of the Fog. That was published in June 2005, with the second novel due out December 2007. Since then I’ve done only two Bic-spec-fic novelettes, one called "The Last Gentile," which is unpublished, the other being "Undeniable," which will appear in the Light at the Edge of Darkness anthology sometime in 2007.

My goal with writing Biblical speculative fiction is, the Lord willing, to make Jesus “cool” again, and by that I mean to show others that Jesus isn’t just some Guy who acts and lives at a distance from us and is the focal point of “religion,” but rather is the One who can be up close and personal if we let Him, and we can have a personal relationship with Someone who is God, who has an incredibly interesting history, and has a depth to Him that no other figure in history (both past, present and future) has.

The Christian community has varying opinions on the appropriateness of speculative fiction. Can you explain your take on the compatibility between speculative fiction and your Christian worldview?

The real issue, to me, is not so much the label of “speculative fiction,” but rather what’s contained within that fiction. On the surface, most Christians think that if a book or short story doesn’t have a “Christian” label, it’s suddenly off limits. But these are also the same people who enjoy Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, both of which are clearly stories that don’t talk about Jesus or the Bible or whatnot.

I think that Christian fiction and speculative fiction are very compatible in that speculative fiction provides an “other worldly” venue to express one’s Christian views. There’s no shame in doing a sci-fi novel which features a Christian crew on a starship and aliens (even though aliens—intelligent ones, anyway, for who knows what types of creatures lurk on other worlds?—aren’t “Biblically correct”). The issue is the message. What are you promoting? If you’re doing fantasy and are promoting magic, then you’ve got a problem as the Bible states that magic is off limits and who are you to lead others astray. However, if you’re doing fantasy and using allegory (i.e. Chronicles of Narnia) then you’re all right. Same with horror and the supernatural. Are you glorifying evil or are you portraying supernatural evil as it really is but also showing the flipside, and that is Christ’s power over it?

I think the problem—and this is a blanket statement—most Christians have with speculative fiction is that they really don’t know what the story is about but since it’s secular (or secularly labeled), they automatically give it a bad rap. We live in a society where believers and unbelievers alike base their opinions and thoughts on a particular form of entertainment solely on what others say is good or bad. I like to challenge individuals to make decisions for themselves. Does a story interest you? Then check it out. In a believer’s case, if the book jacket contains something that you know Jesus Himself wouldn’t look at then set it back down.

It’s a fine line because the Bible also says that we as believers should not do anything that might cause another brother to stumble. This can also be extended to unbelievers who are watching our every move (which is what happens when you confess Christ, and if you err like all humans do, you’re suddenly a hypocrite for doing so as most unbelievers don’t understand that Christians are sinful by nature, too, and just because we believe in Christ it doesn’t make our choices perfect; the issue for us, of course, is are we trying to be like the Master or are we still stuck in the world).

What length of fiction do you prefer to write?

I prefer to write novel-length fiction hands down, the reason being is I’m long-winded and my stories tend to be too complicated to fit in, say, a mere short tale. Most of my work, novel-wise, is 80,000 words up to as high as 236,000 words.

What writing techniques work best for you in terms of character, plot, setting development?

I don’t have a particular writing method other than making myself a cup of coffee before each sitting and smoking a cigarette (bad habit, I know, one I’m trying to kick) before I sit down to type. I use that “quiet time” to think about where the story is going next. The most I do in terms of planning ahead is if I get an idea for a cool scene, I’ll jot it down. I will only include that scene, however, if the story tells me that that scene should be included. I’m very much a believer in the story knowing what’s best and letting it take you where it will instead of me taking it where I think it should go. I’ve found that my best work comes from me “letting go” and letting the story do all the work. My job is merely to type down what I see in my head as the ideas come.

Have you had any life experiences that have influenced your writing?

This is a question that really demands a book-length answer. In short, yes. All writers write what they know. For me, I tend to write about circumstances that I’ve been through albeit changed to suit the course of my story. I’ve been hurt by other women prior to getting married and so these feelings of pain and “where was God?” have made it into my earlier work. I’ve had my share of frustrations with this business and so if I write a story featuring a writer as a character, I get to vent what I think is unfair about this business behind the veil of fiction.

I tend to use my work as a kind of commentary on what I feel is right and wrong with the world. These sorts of themes and ideas just come out almost subconsciously and rarely have I said, “Okay, in this book I want to explore such-and-such a theme.” I mean, I have done it but I’ve also realized that theme is more by accident than on purpose and is something you pick up on when you’re doing your subsequent drafts of a manuscript.

Any advice for new writers in general? Christian writers?

The same as you hear from everyone else: write a lot and read a lot. Be sure to write every day. You can’t dream of being a writer. Either you write or you don’t. There’s no in between.

When do you write?

I write in the evenings or super late at night. When working on a project, I do 1500+ words a day, 5-6 days a week. I don’t edit while I’m doing the first draft otherwise I’d probably never get past the first chapter. I just spill it all out first then worry about the mess I made later.
I write in my office at home. It used to be that when I was done a book, I’d take it to the Perkins down the road and do my edits there (I always edit longhand), but since getting married and having a kid, now my edits are confined to the bedroom, lying on my back on the bed and editing 50 or so pages per “lying.”

Do you do any research for your writing?

Not really. All my work takes place in my home city of Winnipeg so I know the place very well. If I’m not sure how to spell a street name but know where it is, during my second or third draft I’ll take the car out for a ride and find out. Likewise with any police procedures. I have no problem walking up to a cop at Tim Horton’s and asking him/her about what protocol says they should do in a particular circumstance.

Who do you think would most likely enjoy your fiction?

Lately, with
Axiom-man, it’s been comic book fans and closet superhero geeks. As to why they enjoy it, that’s pretty self-explanatory. As for my more supernatural stuff, namely horror fans or those who enjoy religious tales without in-your-face preaching. Most people (unbelievers) don’t have a problem with religiously-themed supernatural horror. They only have a problem when confronted with Gospel.

Do your stories/ novels have any common themes or threads? Do you try to provide a message for your readers?

A strong sense of good versus evil, I would say. Though all novels have some kind of “good versus evil” element, my stories tend to be disguised superhero tales when I’m not dealing with men in spandex specifically, and so have a very much clear cut view of the good guy(s) and the bad guy(s). Even my fantasy novel, The Way of the Fog, though it doesn’t feature guys in tights, it’s clearly a superhero novel in a medieval-like setting.

What can you tell us about your story included in
Light at the Edge of Darkness?

It’s called "Undeniable" and it’s about a man who is captured in communist China and is brutally tortured in the hopes that he’ll deny the Lord. The reason I wrote it—and wrote it fairly graphically—was to pose the question both to myself and to the reader: how much would you endure for Christ? It’s easy to say, like Peter had, that we’d go with Jesus to the death. But what if you were actually faced with it? What if each moment of every day was pure agony? Would you be tempted to deny Him so you could have some relief? Would you keep your eternal perspective at all costs?

I also included a supernatural element to the story as I’ve always been curious as to what goes on behind the “curtain of the natural.” In the story, we get to see the angelic and demonic influence in the torture room and perhaps answer the question as to why God would allow His servants to undergo brutality when He could clearly put a stop to it if He wanted to.

It’s a long story, about 11,000 words, about twice what I intended, but—again, listening to the story—that’s what it took to make the reader care about the characters undergoing the torture, so much so that the reader him/herself will also feel their pain and so ask themselves if they are truly ready to undergo real and true suffering for Christ or not. And in these last days, that’s a serious question we all need to ask ourselves.

In His service,
A.P. Fuchs

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A.P.'s books are available at


Interview with author C.E. Lavender

What is your motivation for writing?

My motivation for writing comes from my creator, God. I believe He instills us with desires and passions, and that He will equip us with the skills and knowledge to fulfill His will through them.

I haven’t always wanted to write. It may have been a confidence issue, but my creative imagination won out. I haven’t been much of a consistent writer, but I plan to work on that in 2007.

I first started toying around with the idea of writing in my freshman year of college, seven years ago. I never thought that what I started in a booth of a little Subway would have propelled me into the chair I’m sitting in today. For some, a single short story in an anthology may not mean much, but for me it’s a nice accomplishment. I give thanks and glory to God for that.

Why do you write Biblical speculative fiction?

I write Biblical speculative fiction because it is what interests me. I wouldn’t find much joy in writing something that didn’t hold my attention. Growing up I was hooked on movies like
Star Wars. I had my He-man collection. I could always go for a good thriller or horror flick. At the time I was emerged in epic fantasies such as The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, and The Sword of Truth.

There were many parts of speculative fiction that intrigued me. In fact, when I first started writing I hadn’t even considered writing for God. He soon chose to show me differently.
Even for someone that doesn’t hold to the same speculative background that I do, it’s not hard to see why he or she clings to it. Take a close look at the Bible. David and Goliath. Jesus turning the water into wine. Angels. Demons. A war in Heaven. The list goes on and on. If you look at these stories they mirror much of what you would find in Biblical Speculative Fiction today. Not to say those stories are fictional. They provide a good solid true story base for speculative writers to lean on.

The Christian community has varying opinions on the appropriateness of speculative fiction. Can you explain your take on the compatability between speculative fiction and your Christian worldview?

See above. I pretty much got to this before I got to it. I think a lot of times many Christians want to hide behind closed doors. Well, for some people they want to come out. And my thing is, if a Christian wants to read a book for entertainment, why not Biblical speculative fiction versus secular speculative fiction? When it comes to my daughters, I would much rather see them reading
Daniel I. Weaver versus Stephen King.

What length of fiction do you prefer to write?

Personally, I have found that my taste buds find novel length writing to be more satisfying. The challenges that I met in writing “Protected” for
Light at the Edge of Darkness were interesting to say the least. I learned, the hard way, to treat it like a single chapter in a novel length story. Writing it to ensure that the reader could pick up the story in the beginning and have a since of closure at the end. In the end my imagination just can’t seem to stop with just on chapter of writing.

What writing techniques work best for you in terms of character, plot, setting development?

This is quite interesting. I feel rather new to writing. I really don’t do much in the line of character bios. I run the story through my mind much like I am watching a movie, so the characters come across vividly in my imagination. However, I have found that detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines works well for me. Especially if there are several twists and turns.

Have you had any life experiences that have (positively or negatively) influenced your writing?

I guess earlier I told a little fib. When I was a sophomore in high school I began writing poetry. For three years I never even dreamed I would even attempt to write full-length novels. At the time I mostly wrote poetry for others. Mainly situations or events that a friend or loved one had encountered along life’s way.

As it turned out, when that person read their emotions put into words it greatly helped them in their struggle to recover. It really amazed me that God would give me such a talent. One that a person just couldn’t learn, but an ability to put emotions and feelings to words. I felt that in my own little way, I was making a difference. And that is what drives me to write even today.

Any advice for new writers in general? Christian writers?

I’d say to always keep your head up. I remember a little over a year ago, I let someone read a few chapters from my work in progress. This person ripped it up one side and down the other. I gave up. I totally quit on my writing. It really struck me deep. This guy was in the business of writing and that really broke me. But I learned that writing is tough. You just can’t sit down and write what comes to mind and expect it to be published. It’s about writing and re-writing and re-writing. And if you’re me, you go through that a few dozen more times. In this business persistence pays.

When do you write?

I have a two-year-old and an eleven-month-old. I have a 40+ hour a week job. I’m an ordained minister. I write as time allows.

Do you do any research for your writing?

Yes, I’m currently in the process of researching for my current work in progress. Unless you are pretty knowledgeable of the subject matter, you’ll never get published without a little bit of research. There will always been someone to point out your every fault and flaw. Pick up a book by one of the most successful writers, Michael Crichton. You will notice a plethora of reference to credit his information.

Who do you think would most likely enjoy your fiction?

Hopefully, everyone enjoys my fiction. But I have heard some people say that it gets a little too intense, creepy, or scary for them. I’d have to say that if you are looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat and take you for a thrill ride, then you’ve found the right author.

Do your stories/ novels have any common themes or threads? Do you try to provide a message for your readers?

Yes, I am extremely fascinated with the spiritual warfare that ensues today. My goal is to use a little bit of fiction to shed light on the truth. Many of us want to overlook this warfare but its existence is clearly outlined in the Bible. I want to expose the darkness with the Light of Truth, and I hope to have contributed my part of that in Light at the Edge of Darkness.

What can you tell us about “Protected” included in
Light at the Edge of Darkness?

My inspiration for “Protected” is that a lot of us are easily deceived by the powers of darkness. Most of the time it is not plainly seen as it is in my story. The scripture says that darkness cannot live with the light; I chose to use characters that represent the light to bring the darkness to the . . . light. I believe it's representative of everyone’s situation. No matter what evil you’ve done or what sins you are currently committing, it’s never too much for the Lord to overcome. No matter what the odds, the light always triumphs over darkness.

C.E. Lavender's bio
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