Okay, so … sometime around December 2003 I found myself snagged by this list where many (most? all?) of the participants were con-goers … and I was not. Many of them seemed to know each other quite well, and I felt rather like an outsider—but when I posted an introduction and mentioned that it was Stephen Bly’s books (Christian westerns) that pulled me back into the realm of Christian fiction after several years away (and thus back to my own writing), Greg Slade was quick to hop on that one and ask if I’d consider writing some reviews for the Fandom website and becoming the editor for the western genre pages (yet to come to existence, of course). Well, there’s nothing like involvement to flatter a new kid on the block, nor to secure her commitment to a particular cause. Naturally I said yes—to our knowledge there was no other resource on the Web specifically for Christian westerns, and I’m probably as big a fan of westerns as I am of fantasy. (Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour—oh, yeah! I think those Sackett boys must be immortal.)
So, I plunged in, and you can view the result here. It remains an ongoing project—reviews are a lot harder to write than they look, and my writing-related busyness escalated sharply after taking on the job. But I think it still remains the best resource on the Web for this genre.
As far as the overall Fandom website—some find it easy to navigate, some don’t. The site received an overhaul about a year and a half ago. Some of the pages I hadn’t even taken time to visit yet—like the ones for the Horror genre, which look great, and have some very interesting reviews. Westerns may seem a surprising addition for a site that focuses mainly on SF/F, but genre is what Christian Fandom is all about. There are still plans for adding a Mystery/Suspense page, and last month our guest author was Robert Liparulo, a suspense/thriller writer. (Next time we’re having a return interview with Bryan Davis, author of the now-completed Dragons In Our Midst series, a contemporary fantasy for teens, since his first interview fell prey to technical difficulties. After that is Chris Walley, author of the Lamb Among the Stars series, and Kathryn Mackel has just agreed to do our January 2007 interview.)
To start with, all the reviews are on books, music, audio recordings of other types that reference Christianity in some way. I was rather blown away the first time at the array of the titles included. Under Genres, of course, all these works are divided by type—which is helpful until you run into something like Kathryn Mackel’s Outriders, which qualifies as science fantasy. (It’s under Science Fiction, then books, then the first section titled “Explicitly Christian Science Fiction Works,” and then under “Future Settings.” As fascinating as this particular page is, one thing I wish they’d do is add a page that lists all of these together, in alphabetical order … and yes, Greg, I know—if I want it done I should do it myself, right? LOL)
Under Resources, you’ll find works divided overall by media type—and I hadn’t realized this until now, either, but the subheading of “Books” on that page lists various books not only according to genre (there are cross-links to my western pages and Joshua Ellis’ horror pages), but according to whether they’re sold in CBA bookstores, ranking among the Fandom group, and those that have won awards. (And might I point out that some of our favorite titles haven’t yet made the recommended list because not enough people have voted?) There’s even a listing of nonfiction books dealing with the subject of Christianity and speculative fiction.
The Resources page also contains links to various con-related events, a page listing all the author/artist/agent/editor interviews that Christian Fandom has hosted (currently on a bi-monthly schedule, but we got a little off this summer because of technical stuff), and information on joining the mailing list. Karen Hancock mentions the very excellent interview with her agent, Steve Laube, and I would point to that one myself as a resource for anyone interested in publishing CBA, whether they write SF/F or not. Steve gave us quite the education on the economics and inner workings of CBA publishing.
Creativity is a listing of original works by Christian SF/F fans, many of those Fandom members. (I have a single entry there, a very short piece that was a Writing Challenge winner in January 2004’s Deep Magic ezine.) A recent addition is A.M. Roelke’s “Private Jim Banks”—I read this just a few days ago and was very moved by it. (Anyone touched by the conflict in Iraq—or our nation’s other wars—could not fail to see its significance.)
Enough for today, I think. Tomorrow I’ll—well, I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow; I might have left myself nothing to talk about. (Oh, as if! I can hear you saying.)
Remember to visit the sites of the other participants. A special thank you to two published authors who are taking time out of their own busy schedules for this: Karen Hancock, who just won her fourth Christy, and Sharon Hinck, whose fantasy trilogy was just accepted by NavPress (and who needs our prayers during edits!).
Rebecca LuElla Miller