The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction

By Margaret Duarte

Harold_Bennett_9222_Nathanael_BennettThe genre of visionary fiction leaves many people puzzled, even the experts.

Take Hal Zina Bennett, author of more than thirty books, including: Write from the Heart, Writing Spiritual Books, Follow Your Bliss, and Spirit Circle, his own contribution to visionary fiction.

When I asked Hal to define visionary fiction, he said, “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. I find powerful spiritual work in books that don’t at all announce themselves that way, for example, in mysteries such as Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery, about the murder of a priest in a remote Canadian monastery. Most mainstream publishers I know are prejudiced against reading anything that calls itself visionary fiction, just certain it’s going to be ‘religious’ and that the author is going to sermonize. Most editors won’t even get to the first page. Whenever I present a new project to an agent or an author, I avoid such labels. My advice to writers of spiritual fiction is just call it fiction. Ten years ago, it looked like the category “spiritual fiction” was gaining traction and was going to be adopted by the publishing industry, thanks mainly to the efforts of Hampton Roads Publishing, but I would not claim that today.”

Okay, I understand that Hal Zina Bennett is primarily an author of spiritual non-fiction, but I won’t let him off the hook that easily. In 2002, he wrote an excellent article about visionary fiction, titled … Continue reading

Villains of Visionary Fiction

By Eleni Papanou

Visionary Fiction villains are my favorite of all villains because they have a chance to evolve beyond their fiendish personalities. What sets apart visionary fiction from other genres is  good and evil are seen as acts rather than the core of a person’s existence. In other words, even villains can evolve.

Since Star Wars is so popular, it’s the perfect story example to use in this post. It also allows readers not familiar with the genre to better understand what sets apart visionary fiction from other genres.

One of the most well-known villains of visionary fiction is Darth Vader. We hated him when he destroyed Princess Leia’s home world and forgave him when he turned his lightsaber against the emperor to save his son. Why did we overlook Darth Vader’s sins?

 He  evolved…

We watched Darth Vader defeat his dark nature and embrace the light. It’s a very common archetypal theme in mythology that Lucas drew upon using Joseph Campbell’s template of the hero’s journey.

 I create my own villains using a similar template, although they don’t always end up embracing the light. I love to explore the interior struggle of a villain. There’s a reason why they do what they do, and I flesh out my antagonists as intensely as I do my protagonists.

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In Unison,  my first book in the Spheral Series, Master Kai is  seduced by ambition; however, there’s an obvious ambivalence he demonstrates throughout the book. I indicate this by how he relates to Damon, the protagonist.

 “We can’t escape history, anymore … Continue reading

How I Use Visionary Fiction And It Uses Me

I like to use the nice stuff, the good stuff. I put my feet on the coffee table, I use my best dishes, and I squeeze every ounce of practicality out of my spiritual beliefs.

I like the good stuff. Visionary Fiction is the ultimate in good stuff. You can find a far more definitive explanation of it here, but here’s the very humble, boiled down, practical version I use for myself: Visionary Fiction promotes views of life that encourage us to live it in harmony.

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Notice, I do not say “in lock step”, or “in preparation for the next.” I don’t say “in accordance with specific rules, or teachings, or dogma, or tenets.”

Live it in harmony. In harmony with one another. In harmony with our planet. In harmony with life itself. In harmony with a greater intelligence, love, power, and beingness that, try as we might, we can’t truly articulate, much less define. In harmony with the highest and best that lives within us all.

But, we’re human. The minute we start reaching for that harmony, we start making rules about how to achieve it. And we tell stories about how we came to make the rules. And we share them. And enshrine them.

Visionary Fiction is about breaking the rules. It’s about remembering that we write our own stories. The true function of our stories is enabling a harmony between our condition and the Divine. They should inspire us to live our best lives, provide signposts on the journey. They should help us burst through the self-imposed bubble of our … Continue reading

Novel Excerpt – The Destiny of Ethan King – by Martin Cosgrove

9781477517819_p0_v1_s260x420Elroy Stark shuffled up the steps to the Eternal Flame Christian Spiritualist Church one wet Monday afternoon. He was late again. His manager always managed to persuade him to stay for ‘just a few minutes’ to finish off some important document or other.

He shook his umbrella several times in quick succession when he reached the top step, folded it down and smoothed back his wet, greasy hair into an overly-slick Dracula style before entering the hall.

The meeting, as usual, was already under way and the spirit medium, Frederick Wallas, was sitting perfectly still and upright in a wooden chair at the front. His monotone voice bounced off the stone walls of the former Freemasons’ building.

Elroy’s scuffed leather shoes squeaked on the highly polished floorboards as he approached the back row of seats. He tried to shift his weight to prevent the squeaking, but ended up making it worse. A few heads spun around to look at him as he squelched his way towards them. One woman in her sixties saw it was Elroy, shook her head and turned back to face the medium. A red-headed, pale man sitting in the front row narrowed his eyes and glared at Elroy as if trying to kill him with his thoughts. That was ‘Bonny’ Benny, the Church’s founder.

Elroy sat on a chair right at the end of the back row, next to a lady he’d noticed at the last three meetings but had not spoken to. Her greying auburn hair was wavy and although it was fixed up tightly in a bun, a couple of wild … Continue reading

Interview with Author Tui Allen

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Eleni Papanou interviews Tui Allen

Hi Tui. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. I have to say, Ripple: A Dolphin Love Story deserves five stars for its originality alone. You’ve truly done something visionary here, and I can see you put your heart and soul into the story. It was a pleasure to read and a pleasure to conduct this interview with you. Before we start, why don’t you tell us the meaning of your name.

I’m a New-Zealander. The tui is a bird, native to my country. It’s slightly larger than a blackbird and appears black from a distance, but the plumage is overlaid with a shimmer of iridescent blues, purples and greens. It has a white tuft at the throat and a tracery of white across the shoulders. They have a beautiful song.
Here’s a picture.

What inspired you to write this story? 

It was during my youthful ocean sailing voyages that I found much inspiration that later became the story of Ripple. But it really started even earlier, when as a teenager I discovered the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I memorized The Ancient Mariner and would recite it silently when alone on watch at night sailing across the Pacific. Coleridge and Richard Bach are my greatest literary influences. Although my plot is completely different, Ripple shares three things with AM.

  • The ocean setting
  • The presence of the spirit world
  • A message of respect for the living things of the sea

The non-human point of view is something Ripple shares with … Continue reading

Novel Excerpt – Ripple: A Dolphin Love Story

ripplecoverStars were appearing when Zenith saw Cosmo approaching. He listened carefully as Cosmo described the events of the afternoon.

‘What will you do now?’  Zenith asked.

‘I’m leaving,’ Cosmo said, ‘I’m not yet sure where to, but you’ve told me of the northern astronomers. I’ll swim their way until I decide.’

‘Do you want me to come?’

‘I need solitude for this journey.’

‘You may meet danger, Cosmo.’

‘I am danger.’

‘Avoid waste. You have much to offer any school.’

Oh for the skills of Alcyone now, thought Zenith. But Alcyone was dead. Zenith observed Cosmo’s departure and saw that he did indeed head north.

Many of the Southern School tried to contact Cosmo in the days afterwards, but failed.

We (deities of the Hereafter) observed Zenith taking steps to ease what he feared could be a hostile reception for Cosmo – should he ever win through to the School of the Astronomers five or six days hard swimming away. Meanwhile we followed Cosmo on his lonely passage.

Cosmo swam towards the Astronomers with only the vaguest intention of arriving.  He could think of no reason to travel in any other direction, and only the north held something that had once been of interest to him. He swam fast, causing the acids to collect in his flesh until his muscles burned. Icy squalls lashed the ocean through the first night of his journey. He watched the stars that gleamed between flying clouds and recited their names as he raced onwards. He ignored hunger all the next day, and his bloodstream … Continue reading

Novel Excerpt – Unison – by Eleni Papanou

RESONANCE

 

First Incarnation

 

Time is relevant to sound. An infinite voice sings life into this universe, and I’m but one note resonating within this expanse of boundless potential. While that’s an easy abstraction to grasp, my own potential remains elusive. After eight parallel lifetimes I’ve been adrift somewhere between struggle and mastery, both of which I now see as an illusion.

I first realized there was something unusual about me in my ninth year, shortly after winning the lottery to go on a camping expedition. My friend Wade and I had taken climbing classes to prepare for our hike up Emerald Mountain. Because of our age, we were restricted to the beginner wall which soon ceased to challenge us. When Headmaster refused to move us to the next level, we waited until the athletic center had closed for the night, then snuck inside to climb the advanced wall. The ropes and harnesses were locked away, and we ascended without them. Finding it difficult to handle grips positioned for longer limbs, I fell during my descent. After Wade yelled out my name, the outside world disappeared.

My awareness returned in the hospital, but my body remained unresponsive. I screamed and cried out in silence when I heard a doctor tell an Overmaiden I was in a coma and wouldn’t last beyond the week. Seven days later my condition remained unchanged. To alleviate my increasing restlessness, I imagined myself exploring the deathlands. They had fascinated me ever since I learned about them at school, but the poison left over from the Great Cataclysm meant I could never visit them. The Earth I created had no limitations. There were no fumes to contaminate my lungs and no scourge to keep me from venturing too … Continue reading

Interview: John A.A. Logan

Michelle Gordon interviews John A.A. Logan

John A.A. LoganDo you believe that we are all, every one of us, connected on an energetic level? Why?

I suppose my instinct tells me that this is true. Twenty-four years practice and study of meditation and yoga also predispose me to see the world from that viewpoint. I was brought up on a farm, where the energy of animals and natural surroundings, forests, fields, insects, snow, sun, may have left me with a sense of the inter-connectedness of things. There were people of all ages on this Highland Scottish farm, from very young children to a very elderly First World War veteran, and again, everything and everyone seemed connected. This kind of life seemed to prepare me later for the Taoist or Yogic ways of perceiving the individual in a matrix of life. I was also very influenced as a teenager by a much older friend who eventually went off to live permanently in Scotland’s only Buddhist Temple. I would walk and talk with him for hours, regularly, over a period of several years, it was like a free education. But my own instinct was telling me that we are all interconnected spirit, from one source, and destined to return to that source, even before I was fortunate enough to have a friend who could help me articulate this.

Have you ever had a spiritual experience, involving synchronicity, angels or spirit etc?

On the farm as a child I often experienced nature as a numinous, and luminous, thing. Lights and colours of trees and plants, even the sound of wind, could be both delightful, and … Continue reading

Guest Post: Setting the Stage: Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction

Karen M. Rider

Genres

Setting the Literary Stage for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction

Rapid-fire change is ongoing in the publishing industry—and it’s not just in the way books are produced, marketed and distributed. Perhaps like no other period in literary history, writers are experimenting with voice, style and format. Such literary exploration arises from both a writer’s creative urge and in response to market trends. This has led to the emergence of new genres and a shift in the way books are marketed and categorized. On physical and digital bookstore shelves,  we find books grouped as  “alternate historical fiction”, “slipstream” and “paranormal romance.” These categories may arise from official sources (e.g., the Library of Congress), publishers and sometimes from authors and readers. Rarely is there agreement and many books can be placed in more than one category. For example, novelist Alice Hoffman’s book The Story Sisters has Library of Congress designations as Fiction/Psychological fiction/Loss/Mothers & Daughters. The same book has been described as a literary magical realism (for which Hoffman is most widely known) and mystical fiction. (It even popped up under fantasy on my Goodreads profile—and this book is definitely not Fantasy.) M.J. Rose’s series of novels dealing with the quest for tools that can reveal past life memories (The Reincarnationist, The Book of Lost Fragrances) are categorized as suspense right on the cover. On Amazon, these books were once listed under both suspense and occult; now you can find them under metaphysical.

Within a major genre, the waters in which we swim get even murkier. The sub-genres of the speculative fiction market have always … Continue reading