Donald and I decided that our marriage doesn’t have enough conflict and neither of us has enough distractions from writing fiction. In a perhaps-foolhardy attempt to solve both issues at once, we’re going to edit and independently publish an anthology together.
For those of you who might be less familiar with publishing lingo, an anthology is a book of short stories by different authors, often on one particular theme or topic. (A book of short stories by a single author is usually referred to as a collection.) We’ll be inviting authors (including you, if you’re an author!) to submit speculative fiction stories (science fiction, fantasy, or horror) that engage meaningfully with Christianity: Christian characters, themes, or cosmology. Stories we select will be published in an anthology called Mysterion: Rediscovering the Mysteries of the Christian Faith. You can read more about it at www.mysterionanthology.com, and you can even sign up for our newsletter (for authors, Submission Guidelines and Theme Guidelines provide more information about the kinds of stories we’re looking for)! We pay 6 cents per word for stories of up to 10,000 words.
We’re open to submissions from October 15th to December 25th, and the anthology will be published sometime in 2016 in both paperback (print-on-demand) and e-book formats. (If you’re not sure what print-on-demand means, the short answer is that you’ll be able to order it from Amazon and possibly other online booksellers, and we won’t have to find room for 1000 books in our small apartment.)
Why are we doing this? Well, we’re both Christians. And, while we enjoy reading fiction written from a wide variety of perspectives, we often wish that we encountered more stories dealing with Christian beliefs and life in a way that feels authentic to our own lived experience. I don’t necessarily mean pro-Christian here. There are things that bother me about my own religious tradition, things that I’m skeptical of or uncertain about. That’s part of my authentic lived experience of Christianity, too. What I mean is, portrayals of Christians and Christian beliefs are often too much on one side or the other. Either Christians are the good guys, standing up against obviously wrong and stupid antagonists, or Christians are the bad guys from whose wrongness and stupidity everyone else needs rescuing. Neither side resonates with me. I like stories where no one’s really the villain, where it isn’t clear who’s right or wrong. And when there are Christian characters, if I squint a little and look at them in the right kind of light, I should be able to see a resemblance to myself or my friends or family members. Even when the likeness makes me cringe. Perhaps especially then.
That’s my answer, at least. Donald may have a different one, if you ask him.
Are we a Christian publisher? We’ll probably never get onto the American Christian Fiction Writers Recognized Publisher List, even if we become successful enough (and publish novels). Apparently, Christian fiction has to be written from a Christian worldview and must not contain “profanity, graphic sex, gratuitous violence or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA [Christian Booksellers Association]”. We’re not necessarily looking for profanity, graphic sex, or gratuitous violence, but we’re also not publishing a book for readers who don’t want to encounter anything offensive or disturbing. We believe authors should use whatever words and situations they consider necessary and appropriate to tell a particular story. Besides, I’m not sure the Bible itself would meet these content guidelines. And, while we do want authentic portrayals of the Christian experience, and cosmology that fits into a Christian framework, we’re eager to consider stories from any author of any faith (or none).
So, if you’re a science fiction & fantasy reader and enjoy stories where faith and/or religion figure prominently, check out our website and subscribe to our newsletter! And if you’re a writer, send us a story (but only after October 15th).