About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In 2015, Margaret published BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series, followed by book two, BETWEEN DARKNESS AND DAWN, in 2017. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.

Dean Koontz: That guy with “horror” tattooed on his forehead.

Dean KoontzDean Koontz prefers to avoid genre labels. By his own admission, he writes “cross-genre novels in a mainstream style, with elements of comedy and social commentary and philosophical speculation.”

That said, I hold firm to my conviction that much of Dean Koontz’s work contains elements of visionary fiction as detailed in the Wikipedia article written by our very own Victor E. Smith. I said as much in a post for Visionary Fiction Alliance back in 2012, titled Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?, to which Koontz responded via e-mail. We have kept up a correspondence since, during which he generously agreed to answer some interview questions for my post at the VFA.

I can think of no better way to introduce Dean Koontz and his work than through his own words in the first of a two part interview.

Dean Koontz Interview Part One:

“I might want to see how the label ‘visionary’ comes to be defined in the years ahead before allowing you to paste it on my forehead, but I suspect we agree on more than we disagree.” ~Dean Koontz

MARGARET DUARTE: Every time I read one of your novels, be it From the Corner of His Eye, One Door Away From Heaven, Odd Thomas, The Face, Watchers, Innocence, or the City, I’m more convinced that you write visionary fiction. For instance, if I whittle the definition of VF down to “fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences,” your stories fit. Or if I say that VF “brings forth universal wisdom in story form so readers can experience it from within,” your stories fit. Add to that the … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction on the Genre Shelf

Visionary FictionVisionary fiction is not metaphysical fiction.

Visionary fiction is not magical realism.

Visionary fiction is not religious fiction or sci-fi or fantasy.

What will it take for traditional publishers to make room on the shelf for fiction that “speaks the language of the soul and offers a vision of humanity as we dream it could be?”

In other words, what will it take for visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre?

Mystic Tea Finds a Genre

Though I don’t have a cup of mystic tea to help me see through time, I can come up with a simple – if not easy to accomplish – answer to the above question.

For visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre, it will take:

  • Visionary writers, such as Rea Nolan Martin, with the talent, perseverance, and willingness to write stories from the heart rather than cave to the dictates of what is currently selling.
  • Contests, such as the Independent Publisher Book Awards, that recognize visionary fiction as a category and award talented VF authors like Rea Nolan Martin awards for their superior work.
  • Reviewers, such as the impressive number that gave Rea Nolan Martin’s visionary novel Mystic Tea a five-star review.

Mystic Tea on Goodreads

I was first drawn to Rea Nolan Martin’s novel by the following blurb at Goodreads:

A community of quirky, mismatched, and endearing women struggle to find meaning and purpose on a ramshackle monastery in upstate New York. Having spent their lives in service to a church that seems to no longer serve them, they are confused about their own … Continue reading

Visionary Flop to Best Seller

Visionary Flop to BestsellerWhat if I were to tell you that one of the best selling books in history is visionary fiction?

Say what?

Yep, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, one of the most widely read books in the world, is visionary fiction. And its rise from a flop in 1988 (with sales so dismal that the book was dropped by its publisher) to record-breaking best seller (sixty-five million copies sold and three hundred weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list) started before most readers had even heard of VF as a genre.

Seems genre doesn’t matter when it comes to bestsellerdom. Write a great story and readers won’t care. Anywhere.

Proof?

The Alchemist is one of the most translated books by a living author. In fifty-six different languages! How’s that for international?

Limpid Visionary Fable

So how does a limpid little fable, deemed “more self-help than literature” by The New York Times, become such a phenomenon?

I mean, what’s the secret? How’d Coelho do it?

Is The Alchemist’s unparalleled success due to Coelho’s guerrilla marketing and kick-ass blog tours? How about the draw of sex? It worked for Fifty Shades of Grey. Or horror as in Misery? Or violence  as in A Game of Thrones? Or maybe his accomplishment is due to celebrity support. We know that Oprah likes him, so that must be the answer.

Hold it. Not so fast.

Paulo Coelho says “no” to all of the above.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.

Visionary Readers and Writers Take Heart

Okay, if the word-of-mouth phenomenon worked for all writers, then every well-written book would be a best seller. Right? And, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have Oprah, Madonna, Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, and Pharrell … Continue reading

Synchronicity, Meaningful Coincidences

Visionary FictionBefore I became a serious writer, my powers of observation made me about as Sherlock Holmes-like as an open secret or plastic glasses.

In other words, I was a perfect antonym for the famous detective, who took such pains to notice subtle cues and details in the people and situations around him.

I didn’t need blinders. Mine were built in.

Beyond the Five Senses

To break into writing, I had to seriously change my ways. No self-respecting reader would make it past page one of my fiction without the vibrancy and richness of detailed and realistic descriptions — a combination of imagination and careful observation.

On top of that, I chose to write Visionary Fiction, which goes a step beyond what is observed through the five senses. I’m talking fiction that incorporates telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and ESP.

Visionary Fiction opened a new world of paying attention. I needed to receive and transmit information from the unconscious, the kind of stuff hidden below the tip of the iceberg that doesn’t surface unless the observer is in a receptive state.

So how does a Visionary Fiction writer go about tapping into the submerged?

One way is to pay attention to meaningful coincidences and pleasant surprises; in other words open up to synchronicity and serendipity.

Meaningful Coincidences and Pleasant Surprises.

In the simplest of terms, synchronicity is the experiencing of two or more events as meaningfully related.

Serendipity, on the other hand, is a pleasant surprise, such as the accidental discovery.

I can best explain by example.

Something interesting happened to me while writing down my soul, Janet Conner style.

First I asked my Inner Voice what I should call him or her. A crow cawed outside my living room door. Once. Then silence. I took this as a sign and addressed my … Continue reading

It Takes a Village: Communicating the Visionary to ‘everyday sight’

Visionary ArtThe statement below was written by a practitioner of painted visionary works, yet I was struck by how it synced with our definition of visionary fiction at Visionary Fiction Alliance and how it applies to other visionary art forms as well.

Art of the Visionary attempts to show what lies beyond the boundary of our sight. Through dream, trance, or other altered states, the artist attempts to see the unseen – attaining a visionary state that transcends our regular modes of perception. The task awaiting him, thereafter, is to communicate his vision in a form recognizable to “everyday sight.” L. Caruana  Manifesto of Visionary Art

Visionary Artists

To illustrate the common “visionary” perspective of contemporary artists among all mediums – from music to astronomy to psychology to athletics to acting to sculpture, I offer the following quotes:

  • Songwriter, photographer Julian Lennon: “It’s about mind control and how you realize what you’re going through, and you make those necessary changes to move forward to become more enlightened, more positive again.”
  • Journalist, political commentator Arianna Huffington: “There will be no collective enlightenment without personal enlightenment. We can take inspiration and knowledge from each other and also make a concerted effort to hit pause [on] our hectic and digital lives and just live the moment.”
  • Visionary ArtistPoet/author Maya Angelou: “Evolution is a slow dance. We have to have some nerve, some trust to dare to grow-to leave old beliefs behind and try on something that … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction Through The Lens of Perception

If you’ve followed recent posts at VFA, you’re aware of the ongoing discussion about what distinguishes visionary fiction from other genres listed under the umbrella of speculative fiction, including sci-fi and metaphysical.

Although our internal deliberations and debates have led to some interesting revelations and “ah ha” moments, I figured it was time to invite in an outside source to shine fresh light on the enduring conundrum.

Enter publisher, writer, editor, and lecturer Hal Zina Bennett.

The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction

Visionary Fiction and The Lens of PerceptionI contacted Hal Zina Bennett because he contemplated the rise of visionary fiction as a new book category as far back as 2002, and I haven’t yet found anyone who’s come close to addressing the genre with such expertise (though he doesn’t lay claim to that distinction).

As he says in a previous post at VFA, The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction: “I think I have some understanding of spiritual non-fiction, and have written one moderately successful ‘visionary fiction’ novel, but sometimes I’m not sure I really ‘get’ visionary fiction at all.”

That post was written over a year ago, and, since the “puzzle of visionary fiction” is still missing some key pieces, I called upon—or should I say pestered?—Mr. Bennett again, hoping that during the interim he had located a few of those elusive shape-shifting dodgers.

The Lens of Perception

Visionary Fiction and The Lens of PerceptionWhat follows is Mr. Bennett’s response to my “visionary” query:

The too obvious answer to your last post/email may be that visionary fiction like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Folk stories, specifically stories I’m familiar with from the Zuni and Hopi story tellers, easily mix spiritual visions, fantasy, magic, and everyday reality. Is that visionary fiction?  

Well, here’s the long explanation: A young Hopi woman, in her 20s or early 30s, I … Continue reading

DIVERGENT and Visionary Fiction, Same Umbrella, Different Factions

Violence aside, I would gladly welcome the dystopian sci-fi novel Divergent into our “faction” here at Visionary Fiction Alliance.

Veronica Roth deserves her New York Times Bestselling Author status. She deserves her book’s 13,561 Amazon reviews (9,733 of which are five stars). She deserves her book sales of over eleven million.

All these accolades are merited because Divergent is fast-paced, well told, and pumps out enough what-ifs and why-nots to satisfy the “Erudite” in all of us. In other words, Divergent is a fantastic read.

The reason I cannot claim Divergent as visionary fiction is twofold:

  • It does not explore the paranormal.
  • It bypasses the spiritual.
  • Divergent and Visionary FictionDivergent is Devoid of the Paranormal

    According to Hal Zina Bennett, publisher, writer, and expert on the genre of visionary fiction:

    • “…good visionary fiction takes us deep into the realm of mystery beyond the boundaries of our five senses.”
    • “The best characters in these (visionary) novels serve as mediators between the physical world we’re familiar with and the less familiar world of dreamtime—what C.G. Jung called the collective consciousness.”

    As dystopian sci-fi, Divergent is categorized under the same speculative fiction umbrella as visionary fiction, but it differs from VF in that it does not include the paranormal, magical, or fantastic.

    Set in a futuristic Chicago, Divergent is played out in a world that has the same physical and biological rules as our own.

    The miracles that occur in Divergent are miracles of science, specifically computer and neuroscience, used in technologically-advanced—incredible, terrible—ways to control and manipulate faction members. Workings of the mind apply to the stimulation, rewiring, and control of the brain, including … Continue reading

    Promoting Visionary Fiction, A Quixotic Quest?

    Visionary Fiction, A Quixotic Quest?When it comes to promoting visionary fiction, I sometimes feel like Don Quixote, cherishing magical hopes and taking on missions I’m not equipped to handle. I begin to wonder if I’m no more than a delusional dreamer, fighting windmills and sheep.

    Then, as so often happens in life, along comes a reminder that being idealistic and impractical may not be quixotic after all.

    The value of dark horses

    During the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, for example, Katy Perry, Kacey Musgraves, and two re-united Beatles proved the value of dark horses, following one’s arrow, and attempting something new.

    • Katy Perry, the daughter of Pentecostal pastors and an artist who has traversed music genres as diverse as Country Gospel and Italian Opera, emerged to prominence with her pop and trap combo, “Dark Horse,” a creepy departure from her usually candy-coated, bubbly themes. Of her current success, she says, “I feel like my secret magic trick that separates me from a lot of my peers is the bravery to be vulnerable and truthful and honest.”
    • Kacey Musgraves stole the Grammy spotlight by winning Country Album of the Year and Best Country Song with “Follow Your Arrow,” a song about smoking weed and gay romance and not playing by the same old rules. How’s that for piercing a genre with a blunt point? “I don’t want to be constrained by boxes or genres,” Musgraves says. “When it’s good music, I don’t think genres matter.”
    • Ultimate genre busters, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, did it up big at the Grammies with their performance … Continue reading

    Dean Koontz’s INNOCENCE; Sometimes We Are Wrong

    If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what about ugliness?

    How do we define ugly? What repulses us? And why?Innocence

    In his latest novel, INNOCENCE, Dean Koontz shows us ugly.

    Little by little, step by step, he immerses us in ugly; until we are in ugly’s head.

    And then he holds up a mirror.

    Horror is not the final destination.

    In October of 2012, after reading three novels in Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, I felt compelled to ask: “Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?

    Since visionary fiction brings forth universal wisdom in story form so readers can experience it from within, I concluded, yes. Koontz penetrates beneath the surface of things (the beautiful and the ugly, humorous and sad, inspiring and depressing), as if drilling deep for a fresh source of water. At first water gushes forth brown with silt (one reason, I suppose, his work is considered horror), but once the silt settles, we’re left with a nourishing, life-giving wellspring.

    After reading INNOCENCE, I again challenge those who label Koontz’s work as horror. Sure, angst and fear may be noisy passengers that fascinate—and repeal—us during our journey through Koontz’s novels, and apprehensiveness and uneasiness often morph into the vehicle in which we ride, but horror is not the final destination.

    Koontz’s intent is not to petrify, but to encourage us to think, see, feel, and ask questions—maybe even change our minds.

    In Innocence, Dean Koontz shows us ugliness that goes beyond definition, ugliness that may, in fact, be beautiful.

    Let me share a few words from Addison Goodheart, the protagonist of INNOCENCE:

    “I had remained … Continue reading

    Ageless Wisdom Teachings Supplement What We Know

    Ageless Wisdom TeachingsToo smart for ageless wisdom teachings?

    We don’t need wisdom teachings from the past to guide us on our journeys toward self-discovery, right?

    We have science. We have technological gadgets galore.

    We are so full of confidence, determination and eagerness to push forward that we hardly even read the instructions that come with our purchases and assignments anymore.

    As my granddaughter says when I’m trying to figure out how to play a new game, “Let’s just make up our own rules.”

    Ageless wisdom teachings as supplements to what we know.

    Confidence, determination and eagerness are commendable attributes as we forge our way through life. But there’s a lot to be said for supplementing what we know – or think we know – with the knowledge of those who trekked the path before us. Ancient wisdom can add depth to our “modern” spiritual journey.

    In the article “Technology of Transcendence,” Frances Vaughan and Roger Walsh claim that most of our recent psychological discoveries are revivals of far older ways of knowing. They believe that the task in the years ahead is to develop our untapped human potential through these rediscovered inner technologies.

    In ancient times, for instance, it was believed that individuals operate within a greater intelligence – a belief now backed by quantum physics.

    We hear a lot these days about a quantum field filled with information and are told that how we interact with that field – through our thoughts and beliefs – determines our reality.

    The Secret and The Law of Attraction are modern renditions of old truths about how thoughts become things.

    A process called channeling can also be traced back to oracular traditions of old. Yet many scientists, musicians, writers and artists … Continue reading