Visionary Fiction Part Two: What Goes into the Bucket?

Let’s suppose, as projected in Part 1 of this series, “The Bucket,” that Visionary Fiction has become as prominent a genre label as Science Fiction or Mystery. Now let’s consider the ingredients writers must put into a work to have it qualify for the Visionary Fiction bucket and what experiences or benefits readers can expect in a work pulled out of that bucket. Continue reading

“Visionary Fiction” Now Officially on Wikipedia

Exciting news for all Visionary Fiction authors, readers and lurkers:
As of August 2014 a entry entitled “Visionary fiction” has been published on Wikipedia at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visionary_fiction 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 guessed, came up to … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction;Crossing Over is Easy

Visionary Fiction; Crossing Over is EasyI didn’t choose to write visionary fiction; it chose me.

This may sound strange to you and what I’m about to share even stranger, but I can think of no better way to explain how I ended up writing in a genre that parallels the new neural sciences and has yet to find a receptive audience.

A word from my protagonist

I open my case with a message from my protagonist, written shortly after I completed my first novel.

Dear Reader

My name is Marjorie Veil Sunwalker. Margaret Duarte, the writer of this novel, believes she has created me. She believes she has made up the events and details of my journey. What she doesn’t realize is that I have been with her for a long, long time. She was only an instrument, my interpreter.

Margaret first felt my presence during a visit to the Monterey Peninsula in California. It was August of the year 2000. She was on the 17-Mile Drive and had stopped at the landmark of The Lone Cypress. There, I gently touched her, beckoning her for the first time. At her next stop she saw what remains of “The Ghost Tree,” bleached white by wind and sea. As she stood entranced, I nudged her one more time. Finally, at the Carmel Mission, I set the trap and she was caught. She didn’t know the how and whys, but she knew she would write a story.

From then on, I’ve been her invisible guide. I’ve whispered my thoughts and experiences to her, lifting the veil a bit … Continue reading

The Puzzle Of Visionary Fiction – Part Two

Harold_Bennett_9222_Nathanael_BennettBy Margaret Duarte

For part one of the article, click here.

Hal Zina Bennett points to ebooks as a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to proving to the mainstream that visionary fiction has something valuable to offer.

 “Maybe successful visionary fiction is a little like the legendary Hindu rope trick,” Bennett says, “where the fakir throws a rope into the air. Instead of it falling to the ground the rope stays firmly in the air like a solid post. Then the magician orders his assistant, usually a young boy, to climb the rope. The boy obeys but when he gets to the top he refuses to come down. The angry fakir throws a knife, which swirls viciously toward the sky. Soon, severed arms, legs and body parts of the boy come hurtling down. The magician’s assistants collect the pieces, toss them in a basket and cover the basket with a cloth. The magician passes his wand over the basket, sweeps away the cloth, reaches in and helps the restored and whole child step out.  Thousands of people have sworn that they know somebody who has seen this trick done.  But of course, the first hand witnesses never seem to be found. Perhaps visionary fiction is a little like that. We know the trick. Sometimes as we’re even convinced we’ve accomplished it. And maybe we have. But where are the spectators, the witnesses, when we need them?”

1204250_magic_book Continue reading

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