What Visionary Fiction Means to Me

Mark Ristau/visionary

Nothing inspires me more than the idea that the impossible can be made possible…that stories have the power to transform the final arbiter of reality—the human mind. What could be a more “visionary” undertaking than to embark on a writing journey whose mission is to change the very nature of reality by influencing human perception?

My work is based on the fundamental principle that we write to inspire our readers with the idea that anything is possible. It’s true that there are plenty of very talented authors out there who write for no other purpose than to entertain their audiences. And this is fine. Perhaps even necessary. But we should be aware of the dangers inherent in introducing trivialized content into our culture.

I left behind a lucrative career as a corporate attorney with a very specific purpose in mind: To bring something new into the world—a story that would challenge its readers to think about society’s oldest problems in new ways…in short, to transform consciousness…

I’ve always been fascinated by stories that explore the fluid nature of time, space, and reality. The first such story I read was An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, which I was assigned in a 7th grade humanities class. The idea that time was not an absolute concept, and that a writer could manipulate it to serve compelling literary purposes knocked my socks off.

Much later, I was introduced to the work of Paulo Coelho and Joseph Campbell, who became my most important writing influences. In fact, the narrative pattern identified by Joseph Campbell is a pattern I employed in writing the manuscript for A Hero Dreams, originally entitled “Even the Banyan Tree Know Peace.” This narrative pattern—”The Hero’s Journey”—follows the hero across a threshold into a supernatural world where lessons are learned, and wisdom gained. The idea that we can come face-to-face with life’s secrets through such a visionary quest has always captivated me.

To me, Visionary Fiction is a genre that allows writers to share stories about what is possible without being shackled by preconceived notions of how things are and how they ought to be. It’s a genre that encourages writers to break the rules and make discoveries that otherwise might have lain dormant for years…or perhaps forever…

Thank you, Visionary Fiction Alliance, for the opportunity to share my vision…


11 thoughts on “What Visionary Fiction Means to Me

  1. V. M. Franck - Vi says:

    Mark, I enjoyed reading your piece. My husband and I left our careers and old ways of being for the same reason, to inspire the reader to think beyond what they have been programmed to think. I, too, like the freedom that visionary fiction offers the writer. If we are to survive at all on this planet we need to immediately start practicing that which has been seen as impossible by those who came before. Joe Campbell provided an excellent platform for us. Now we need to pay-it-forward.

    • Mark Ristau says:

      Hello William,
      My apologies for the delay in responding. I just recently returned from New York where I was promoting my book at Book Expo and BookCon. I remember reading Bierce with the awe of what words can make possible. He opened up a new world for me…

  2. Jodine Turner says:

    Hi Mark! i liked your statement about VF – ‘whose mission is to change the very nature of reality by influencing human perception?’ Yes, so true. We are in a unique position to impact readers and impact the world in a positive way through our writing. I am humbled and proud to be a part of this writing tribe that aspires to do so. Congratulations on your awards, and I wish you much success for your novel!

    • Mark Ristau says:

      Hello Jodine,
      I’ve been in New York for Book Expo/BookCon; otherwise, I would have responded sooner. Thank you for your kind words, and for welcoming me into the VFA community!

  3. reanolanmartin says:

    Great insight into what we’re all about, Mark! So great to have you and your creations on board.

  4. Victor Smith says:

    It took me a bit to read and respond to your post, Mark, but it is nonetheless greatly appreciated. Yes, Campbell was on to something major with his paradigm of the “Hero’s Journey,” and it sounds like you adopted it quite masterfully. Congratulations on the awards and best wishes on the rest of the series.


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