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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Curling and Writing From a Christian Worldview

You may be wondering what curling--the sport not the hair activity--has to do with writing books to reveal a Christian worldview. When I happened upon a game on television (was it the Olympics?) I found it truly bizarre. Men skating on the ice and sweeping brooms in front of a granite stone. What on earth were they doing?

Well, for some reason, this image came to me this morning as I was puttering about my landscape jobs. I have been trying for months to smooth the way for editors to understand the fantasy market. CBA publishers have a long way to go to "get" this genre and why, how, and in what way they need to pursue it. Upon returning from the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Dallas, I was energized and encouraged by the willingness of many there to take a look at fantasy--not just mine, but books of other authors as well. That is a big change, even from April at Mt. Hermon.

Back to curling. Sending out your fantasy book is like throwing the stone down the ice. These heavy (44 pound) granite rocks are hurled toward "the house," as the goal is called. Why is it called curling? Oh, it is thought to have been started in Scotland, and the Scots word "curr" means a low rumble, for as the stones race down the ice over the "pebble," they do make a roaring noise. Pebble is created by water droplets deliberately created on the ice's surface, hence the roar. The sweepers use brooms that momentarily melt the little bumps and are thus able to affect an alteration in the direction of the stone, helping lead it toward the goal.

So, here we are, intrepid fantasy, sci-fi, futuristic, speculative fiction writers, trying to head toward the goal of publication in a publishing climate that hardly knows we exist. We are the sweepers and the hurlers, sending out our books with focused attention, trying to make a roaring noise, and sweeping the bumps along the way to smooth the road, not just for ourselves, but for those to follow.

I am continually surprised to see the glazed-over look on editors' faces when I discuss fantasy with them. It is as if I live in a fantasy world myself--a place where the publishers are wearing strange glasses that blind them, and out of my mouth comes only gibberish. A few seem to be waking up from a deep Sleeping-Beauty-type slumber and are starting to see the facts: that 300 million people went to see the first Narnia movie--the first so-called Christian fantasy film to hit the theatres. That many of those viewers also loved reading Narnia, and have few, if any, books they can turn to for that fantasy fix. Never mind the gazillions who have read LOTR and those Harry-you-know-who books. Seven of the ten biggest selling books in history were fantasy books. Theatres are being flooded with fantasy movies. I went to a movie (a fantasy) last week and, for the first time ever, 4 of the 5 trailers for upcoming films were in the fantasy genre and most adapted from fantasy books.

The most important thing to me is this (and editors are starting to feel God's nudge): that there is a wide-open mission field out there--a "place" consisting of millions of people who only read fantasy or sci-fi. We so need to get books into their hands that are well-written, entertaining, imaginative, but that gently represent a Christian worldview. By infiltrating the fantasy market with these kinds of books, books that inspire hope and point to a God who cares, we will scatter seeds far and wide, and let God do the rest.

So, keep casting your stones out on the surface of the ice, and in the course of many days, weeks, or years, they will come back to you. That's a scripture, isn't it?


  1. Great article, Susanne! You should submit it to Christianity Today, or some other Christian publication. Well written. Great analogy to curling.


  2. Maybe it's just me, but I think one additional problem (besides the editors-glazing-over problem, which I sometimes admit to) is that fantasy is just plain HARDER to write well than most other genres. At least that's my observation.