By Margaret Duarte
The 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
Karen M. Rider
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