Fantasy Friday – Bethany House Adds Another Fantasy Author

Bethany House is one of the more interesting Christian publishing houses when it comes to speculative fiction. First, they contracted Karen Hancock for her science fantasy Arena, which, by the way, they’ve just re-released with a new cover. That novel went on to win a Christy Award, as did Karen’s next three titles–the opening trilogy of her four-book The Guardian King series.

You’d think Bethany would be ecstatic as slowly fantasy fans learned of Karen and the availability of actual, well-written Christian fantasy. I have no way of knowing what their reaction was, but apparently ecstatic would be a stretch because they went the next ten years without another speculative author.

Karen continues to publish with them. After she completed The Guardian King series with Return of the Guardian King, she went on to publish another science fantasy entitled The Enclave and is currently working on a similar type of book. But other speculative authors? Apparently Bethany was happy to stand pat. They had the speculative genre covered.

At long last, however, the publishing house that first opened the door to Christian fantasy has brought in a handful of other authors. First was Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and she just happened to win back-to-back Christy Awards. Apparently Bethany has an eye for quality!

Now they have also included R. J. Larson, who writes what might be considered Biblical fantasy, and Patrick W. Carr, whose first novel, A Cast of Stones, begins The Staff & The Sword series–good old fashion, unadorned, regular Christian fantasy.

Larson’s debut novel Prophet released April 1 this year, and as it happens, Bethany House has a one-day promotional ebook give-away coming up on August 14. The second in the series, Judge, is due to release in November.

Carr’s A Cast of Stones is due out in February 2013. For Bethany House, this feels almost like an explosion of fantasy!

I’m happy about a couple things: first, the obvious–they are expanding the number of titles. But I’m also happy that they seem to be diversifying somewhat so that not every fantasy is like the others. Stengl’s books, beginning with Heartless (also part of the promotional package and available free as an ebook on August 24), and continuing with Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower, due to release in November also, are fairytale fantasy, which is quite different from Hancock, certainly, and from Larson’s Biblical fantasy or Carr’s epic fantasy. In addition, as I noted earlier, apparently Bethany is paying attention to quality–something I’ve felt is essential if fantasy is to grow as a genre in Christian publishing.

So, good on you, Bethany! I’m happy this publisher is joining Zondervan, WaterBrook/Multnomah, and Thomas Nelson as well as the smaller houses like AMG and Marcher Lord Press to put out more Christian fantasy.

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22 Comments

  1. Loved A Cast of Stones! It was a lot of fun.

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    • Oooohh, I’m jealous! You got to read it already! Glad to know you liked it.

      Becky

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  2. YAY Happy to hear this and thanks for the heads up about the ebooks. 🙂 Loved Karen Hancock’s books and Heartless and will be looking for these others. 🙂

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    • I know, Marcia. I think it is great news! Karen Hancock will have another book out sometime not so long from now, too. I’m so happy Bethany is finally willing to (cautiously) include a few others. Because the quality is high, I really would like to see these books sell well.

      Becky

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  3. I’ll look for her books for my kids!

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    • Zellie, I’m not sure which “her” you’re referring to. Karen Hancock’s books are definitely for adults and she has some mature material in them, so I wouldn’t recommend them to just any age and certainly not without some discussion.

      Becky

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      • Thanks for letting me know- 🙂

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        • Zellie, I’d recommend Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s books for teens. Also, not a Bethany author, but Shannon Dittemore’s Angel Eyes is an excellent novel for young adults.

          Becky

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          • Thanks for the tip. I will check out those authors! Always looking for stuff for my kids to read 🙂

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  4. I was so excited when I first heard this news. It’s promising for readers and writers alike. 🙂

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    • Sarah, I should have given your blog post a link. You always put me onto the new releases and deserve all the credit for keeping us all informed. Thank you!

      Becky

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  5. Don’t forget, Bethany House also reprinted and continued Kathy Tyers’ Firebird books around the same time as they published Karen Hancock. If I remember correctly, Steve Laube, a huge fan of speculative fiction, was the champion for both those authors. He left in early 2003 to become an agent, which helps explain the decade-long gap. If there were no huge fantasy fans at Bethany House during those years, and if Hancock’s and Tyers’ books sold only moderately well, there would have been no reason to pursue other fantasy.

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    • Katie, you’re right about Steve Laube being the spearhead to bring Karen to Bethany. I’d forgotten about Firebird being a Bethany book but probably wouldn’t have counted it anyway, what with it being science fiction/space opera as opposed to fantasy.

      The thing that always intrigued me was that Karen Hancock continues to be a Bethany author all these years after Steve left. I figure 1) they aren’t losing money on her books and/or 2) they want to at least maintain a toe-hold in speculative literature. (And why not do so with a four-time Christy Award winner?)

      But expansion, after Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s books … well, I don’t think there’s a bad way to interpret that. 😀

      Becky

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  6. Thanks for the mention Becky, and for putting up the picture of Arena’s new cover!

    I’m delighted as well to know that BHP is expanding in this field, and while I had heard of Stengl, this is my first introduction to Larson and Carr. (ClearlyI haven’t been paying enough attention) Thanks for stringing them all together as you did. It Is impressive!

    I am immensely grateful that they have kept me on throughout all these years, have continued to publish my books and still want this next one… 🙂

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  7. Thanks for stopping by, Karen. I think there are a lot of us that are happy Bethany didn’t abandon your series or your subsequent works because of their apparent overall lack of enthusiasm for the genre. We are soooooo blessed to have you leading the way. And now doubly blessed as Bethany takes such a positive step.

    Becky

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  8. Wow, Becky, thanks for this post and for mentioning “Prophet”!
    Love the look of your blog. 🙂

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    • Thanks for dropping by, R. J. I’m just so excited to see what Bethany is doing. What a fine group of fantasy writers they are assembling. I have to admit, they surprised me, but I’m very pleased.

      Becky

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      • We’re all pleased as well!!! 😀 Looking forward to your future posts, Becky!

        Blessings,

        R. J.

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  9. I just saw “A Cast of Stones” and now I can’t wait! And I love Arena’s new cover! I ‘m reading “Prophet” right now. I’m a huge fan of Larson’s Genesis Trilogy. (Written as Kacy Barnett-Gramckow) Great post!

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    • Wonderful! I hope there’s some strong pre-launch hype that starts to build for this one. I’d love to see it do as well as the other Bethany titles so they keep signing more fantasy authors.

      Thanks for adding your voice!

      Becky

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    • Claire, thank you for your kind words about the Genesis Trilogy. I hope you’re enjoying “Prophet” as well!

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  10. […] happy to see her publisher (Bethany House) stepping into the arena of fantasy, as I noted in an earlier post this […]

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