A Letter From Dean Koontz

Editor’s Note: This post appears courtesy Margaret  Duarte’s site (slightly edited).

By Margaret Duarte

I’ve been blogging for over two years now , and lately I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching about the value of working so hard.

Then today (16 October), I received an email from Dean Koontz concerning the post I wrote about him here at VFA, and it has energized me in a way I haven’t felt energized in a long time.

Dear Margaret,

My editor at Bantam, Tracy Devine, sent to me your lovely post at Visionary Fiction Alliance, and I’m asking her to forward this to you. I was quite touched by your words.

After a long career as a novelist, I’ve learned that what anyone writes about my work, good or bad, will only occasionally, very occasionally, be written with true insight regarding my intentions. For so many years, I have denied being a horror novelist, never thought I was, and struggled to prevent earlier publishers from putting that word on my books.

You got to the heart of what I try to give readers when you mentioned hope and healing, and spoke of seeking to “help readers see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.”

If you will provide my editor with a mailing address, I would like to send you two inscribed books that are close to my heart.

Best wishes,

Dean Koontz

Oh my, talk about synchronicity!

Thank you, Dean Koontz, for taking the time to inspire a fellow writer to not give up.  Ever.

I’m back.

Margaret

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Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?

By Margaret Duarte

Dean Koontz is generally categorized as a writer of horror, and I’m not a fan of horror, so I’m not sure what possessed me to read one of his novels. Maybe someone gave it to me. Maybe I picked it up in a bargain bin somewhere.

What I do remember is that the book’s title was Watchers and, while reading it, I fell in love with a dog named Einstein and an author named Dean Koontz.

Then along came the Odd Thomas series. Again, I don’t know how I discovered it, but I do know that Koontz’s “odd” protagonist nabbed and bagged my heart before I even got to paragraph two. The series is written in first person, from the point of view of a short-order cook named Odd Thomas, who pulls you in with his wit and humility and then captivates you like a first crush with his concern for the underdogs of – and out of – this world.

“My name is Odd Thomas, though in this age when fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.”

Peculiar things happen to Odd Thomas that don’t happen to anyone else. He communicates with the dead, for instance. Not by choice, mind you. Odd Thomas is a reluctant confidant and can’t resist helping the quiet souls who seek him out for justice.

Almost every page of Koontz’s novels contains a line or phrase that teases and pleases the brain. I’m down right envious of Koontz’s ability to penetrate beneath the surface of things (the beautiful and ugly, humorous and sad, inspiring and depressing) and share observations that vibrate with truth.

Visionary Fiction’s Effect On This Author

By Eleni Papanou

In the not so distant past, writing felt more like a chore. It took ten screenplays and one badly written novel to admit I never felt satisfied with what I produced. It seemed like I wrote only to satisfy an audience, which made the experience hollow. Longing to create something more personal, I switched my focus from high concept to indie and began working on The Cabin. The concept was simple: two ex-lovers, Damon and Flora, meet up for eight lifetimes. The hook: Damon’s memories of his past lives are triggered when Flora arrives to arrest him for assassinating their leader, and they soon end up murdered by  a well-respected elder.  Each lifetime, Damon races against time to save himself and Flora.

After I finished the screenplay, I liked the story enough to explore the idea of writing it as a novella. Starting was easy as a screenplay makes an excellent outline. I expected all the plot points would be the peaks, and the new material would be the valleys leading towards them. Yes, this was going to be easy…so I thought. Little did I know The Cabin was about to  transform into a full-blown epic…something I had dreamed of one day writing.

The move that changed everything…

The Cabin evolved after I introduced a piece of technology from an older screenplay I had given up on. This fortuitous maneuver ended up  connecting the two stories together and made the peaks of The Cabin less significant to the overall story! Other characters entered The Cabin, and it was now too small … Continue reading

Story vs Message: Striking the Balance

Guest post by Randy Davila

Visionary fiction authors have one of the hardest jobs as writers—to both entertain their readers and to introduce them to new metaphysical topics, which the readers may have never been exposed to before. The most successful authors, of any type of fiction, understand that the first purpose of their book must always be to entertain.

Unfortunately, many times we see visionary fiction authors who feel so powerfully about their message that they let it become the central focus of the story, and drown the reader in metaphors, exercises, theories and unnatural dialogue all in the name of conveying their message. They have forgotten that their readers came to the fiction section of the bookstore to be entertained first and foremost. This is where the fiction author can run into the most difficulty in trying to reconcile their love of the story for the love of the message.

We, as fiction authors, have been told time and time again to “show, don’t tell”—and your metaphysical or spiritual message is no exception to this rule. To keep the reader engaged, you must show them how your character’s negative thinking is drawing negative circumstances into his life; or leave room for the reader to intuit how the character’s dreams about the Divine Feminine correlate to her real life experiences. Showing the reader how these theories work instead of simply telling them that will help them to learn your message gracefully through the story that you are conveying. Remember, the art of great fiction is in what the author doesn’t say rather than what … Continue reading

Relevance Of Visionary Fiction – Margaret Duarte

Margaret Duarte

Before I explain what Visionary Fiction is, let me position it on a chart that shows the basic types of literature and genres.

As you can see, rather than being a genre of its own, Visionary Fiction is a subgenre of Speculative Fiction, which makes it hard to categorize, and, although VF has been around for a long time – think shaman stories of ancient times, most agents, publishers and big book buyers don’t recognize it as a genre or subgenre.

That said, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Christian/Spiritual Fiction are also subgenres of Speculative Fiction, which doesn’t make them any less popular with agents, publishers, booksellers, and fans.

So what, exactly, is Visionary Fiction?

In its simplest terms, VF is what John Algeo calls “a modern and sophisticated version of the fairy tale.”  And, according to W. Bradford Swift, what separates VF from other speculative fiction is intention.  Besides telling a good story, VF enlightens and encourages readers to expand their awareness of greater possibilities.  It helps them see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.

In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope, I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and to open to new thoughts and ideas.  In other words, I believe the audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.

That’s why I write Visionary Fiction, and that’s why I joined the talented visionary writers at Visionary Fiction Alliance to promote a genre whose time has come.

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Visionary Fiction – Light Carrier Of This Dark Age – Eleni Papanou

Eleni Papanou

I see visionary fiction as a timely genre and one of the light carriers of this dark age.  It’s the ideal counterbalance to western pop culture that seems to favor violent themes and images that permeate the whole media landscape. The present cycle will continue until a contrasting alternative presents itself. I see the birth of a counterforce happening right now. There are many people who are weary of what’s happening in this world as well as what’s being promoted as news and entertainment by the mainstream. They want something that has more substance and meaning.  Visionary fiction is one of the outlets available to them as well as to  those of us who find personal fulfillment as writers of this  genre.

I don’t state any of the above lightly. Art has the power to move and effect change. We need that now as much as we needed it during the middle ages. The world is more polarized than it has ever been, and the news successfully obfuscates what’s really happening. Some of you may feel like you’re the only ones that can see through the madness of this age, or maybe you may at times think you’re mad for suggesting anything is wrong. Sometimes I feel a little like both, and it’s my writing and spiritual practice that keeps me tethered to the light within me.

The Pareto effect states … Continue reading

Visionary: Fiction of the Future – Saleena Karim

(Note: This is a  slightly edited version of a blog post originally written for the VF web-ring under the title, The Place of Visionary Fiction in Today’s World and published March 2012)

Saleena Karim

According to one online dictionary, the meanings of the word ‘visionary’ include something characterised by foresight; fantasy and imagination; prophecy or revelation; and idealism.

Ancient roots

True to its name, visionary fiction contains all of these elements as well. Although the genre of visionary fiction is relatively new, it actually has its roots in ancient mythology, and in the parables and legends we find in religious scripture across the world. It openly harks back to the original function of ‘story’ itself, to ask questions about human potential: What we are, where we are going, and what we would like to become. So in a way, visionary fiction isn’t new at all. But we might ask why this ‘new’ type of novel has appeared just as we have crossed into the new millennium.

It’s a mad world

The future is undoubtedly both exciting and uncertain. It’s exciting because of the pace of technology; faster communications such as the internet and mobile devices and TV; the leaps in our understanding of the physical universe; our advances in medicine, genetics and much more. Yet it’s also uncertain, because it seems to lack direction. Many of us fear that our combined knowledge is not being put to the best possible use; we remain painfully irresponsible when it comes to the environment; the vast majority of scientific research is funded by, and carried out for, the military; and we still can’t seem to … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction: Its Relevance in Today’s World – Jodine Turner

Jodine Turner

Visionary Fiction speaks the language of the soul.It contains all the elements of modern storytelling yet there is a deeper layer, an archetypal level. This level invites a reader to personally undergo the mystical inner initiations that the book’s character experiences. Visionary Fiction not only entertains, it embeds esoteric wisdom and paranormal experiences in story. It is an ancient art of storytelling – but a fairly new genre in the publishing world.

UltimateMagicebook cover-2

Often relegated to the genre of Fantasy, Paranormal, Metaphysical, or Spirituality, Visionary Fiction contains elements of all four. But the story line is more concerned with how the character’s internal experiences of paranormal events – such as visions, dreams, psychic phenomena, past life remembrances, or forays into uncharted planes of existence – are the unique catalysts for transformation. These types of non-linear occurrences run parallel to our everyday conditioned reality. Visionary Fiction allows the reader to glimpse a doorway into these alternate realities.

Our Current Reality

We live in a world that operates under an imbalanced masculine-principle way of thinking. I am referring to the unhealthy attitude that produces greed, war, violence, domination, authority outside ourselves, and rational/linear thought to the exclusion of intuition and feelings. In general, society demeans the feminine principle of nurturance, receptivity, cooperation, emotions, our ‘sixth sense’ and intuition. I am not talking about gender when I speak about the masculine and feminine principles, but, rather, about ways of being and behaving. Both principles can act healthy or unhealthy; helpful or … Continue reading

Relevance of Visionary Fiction in Today’s World – Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan

Before talking about the relevance of visionary fiction in today’s world, we need a working definition of the term. Fiction is easy: it’s writing that’s made up. It doesn’t refer to the real or empirical world.  It’s imaginary. I think of writing fiction as the best way to tell the truth without getting sued. That’ why I started writing it.

Visionary Fiction Requires  a Vision

Visionary is a little more difficult to define. It requires a vision, which runs the gamut from things like a corporation’s vision statement, to physical vision produced by the eyes, to the earth-shaking religious experiences had by some, in which new spiritual realities and ways of being are revealed.

Vision can be social, artistic, political, technological, religious or a zillion other things. Visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak transformed our society with their forward thinking ideas about technology. Visionaries such as Jesus and the Buddha showed us states of being and gave us teachings to help attain them.

Visionary fiction is fiction that expresses the core of any of these areas verbally––it’s a very broad genre, which is sometimes not taken into account. Visionary fiction is sometimes associated with an unnecessarily “woo-woo” or ungrounded spiritual character. I.e., the writer has a worldview––that things will get better and better if we act and think and behave a certain way. He or she jams that worldview into a story that proves it correct. Some readers love that sort of thing. It leaves me cold.

Being branded a writer of visionary fiction can be dangerous. “Being labeled ‘visionary fiction’ and shelved in that area of the bookstore is the death knell of any title.” I read that in a trade magazine.

Pretty scary, since I … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction Challenges Our Species to Evolve – Michael Sussman

Michael Sussman

Human nature is not fixed. It has evolved over the course of millennia and is capable of further change. Is it overly grandiose to suggest that visionary fiction could help play a role in such a transformation?

Most likely, but I shall nevertheless make the case.

Visionary fiction overlaps with several better established genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, speculative, and inspirational fiction. What’s unique about visionary fiction is its focus on the expansion and evolution of the human mind, imagining new frontiers for the human spirit.

What’s the importance of visionary fiction in today’s world?

There is no denying that we live in an era of unprecedented change and extraordinary uncertainty about the future. It’s the Age of Crises. Population explosion, pollution, natural disasters, climate change, economic recession, scarcity of resources, terrorism, and ethnic wars all threaten to disrupt or end civilization as we know it.

Perhaps science and technology can help solve some of these dilemmas. But even the most astonishing technological breakthroughs will not save us if they are not accompanied by a transformation in how we think, act, and relate to each other.

Just as science fiction provided the inspiration for many technological advances, it’s conceivable that visionary fiction could help provide the inspiration for a new awakening of the human spirit.

For it is now evident that it’s the shortsighted, self-centered, greedy, and xenophobic aspects of human nature that have created our predicament. Only by evolving into a wiser, more generous, compassionate, and cooperative species can we hope to survive.

My novel, Crashing Eden, envisions a world in which humans are transformed by regaining the capacity to hear the primordial vibration of the universe, reestablishing Edenic consciousness. This may be pure fantasy, … Continue reading