Fantasy Friday the Thirteenth

I suppose there is some poetic congruity in writing about fantasy on a day some people look at through their myopic lenses of superstition. 😀 Of course, in my view, fantasy has nothing to do with superstition and everything to do with truth. That truth is delivered in story form and requires a bit of mining to be uncovered is all the better!

But I’m straying from my intended subject. Some of you may have seen the press release posted at CSFF and at Spec Faith announcing a second Christian fantasy book tour, this one to take place on the West Coast with twice the number of authors. Since I’m on the West Coast and a Christian fantasy writer, I’m excited about this week-long event. Already the media is lining up to cover it.

I have to mention, however, that a discussion in an email group I belong to brought up an issue I think the tour illustrates—fantasy in the CBA is still primarily the property of the young. Of the eight authors participating in the tour, only one can be said to have written primarily with adults in mind. I’m referring to Sharon Hinck in her Sword of Lyric series. Some, to be sure, are marketed to both youth and adults. For example, I’ve found Donita Paul‘s Dragon Chronicle books on both YA and adult shelves, sometimes in the same store.

Perhaps because of Narnia, adults have no qualms reading books marketed for younger readers. And certainly young people have no qualms reading books aimed at adults. I remember being taken aback the first time I saw one of my junior high students reading Tolkien. But why not?

A good fantasy stirs something in all of us. We recognized the good and evil struggle as familiar territory, but it looks so much clearer in a fantasy setting, so we gain perspective, consciously or unconsciously. A good fantasy challenges us to rise to the occasion, to see our existence as part of the larger plan, our role as significant to the gains and losses. We want to be that hero or heroine.

A good fantasy also doesn’t sugarcoat the dangers. There is a White Witch deceiving, dragons hoarding, Black Riders stalking. But in the same vein, a good fantasy points to the fellowship, the sacrificial Lion, the way in and the way further up and further in. These are truths that we recognize, whether eight or eighty-eight.

One writer decrying the paltry number of adult fantasy titles in CBA stores mentioned the lack of subplots in children’s fiction, making those stories less desirable to adults. I suppose this is a valid point. The structure of a children’s book or even a YA might be a little more simplistic. So the question I’m wondering is this. Do CBA fantasies target youth because this is where the buyers are or because the writing suits this audience more?

Well, I feel like I’m just getting warmed up. More fantasy discussion to come, I believe. 😉

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