Tonight Bryan and I had the privilege of attending the book release party for our friend Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy novel, Auralia’s Colors. It was exciting to see him speak as he shared the story of how Auralia’s Colors came to be. As these things go, it started with one comment, made by his then girlfriend, and grew into a wonder and an inkling and an idea and then finally, a compelling. I was particularly struck by the amount of patience he must have endured in seeing this project through, as I think he first began working on the novel in the late 90’s.
It is very inspiring to see a friend and fellow writer get published. We are very excited for him, and I can’t wait to dig into this book.
The release of Auralia’s Colors, along with conversations I’ve had with Jeffrey, got me thinking about the fantasy genre. I’ve always held to the conviction that I dislike science fiction and fantasy in the same I way I dislike rap music – based solely on judgmental, preconceived notion that there was no substance or worth to it. I remember being in a book store as a kid, seeing these books about hobbits on the shelf, and thinking that was just weird. What the hell is a hobbit? And why would I waste my time reading about imaginary hobbits when I have the much more realistic and literary genius that is Sweet Valley High to read?
Yet, when I think about stories I’ve enjoyed like The Lord of the Rings series, the Narnia series, certain Orson Scott Card books, and even a Neil Gaimnan book – and even movies like Pan’s Labyrinth – I realize that I actually probably do like fantasy.
And as Bryan said to me tonight as we talked like grownups over a plate of Mexican food, I would enjoy reading a story in any genre, as long as it is a good story. And I suppose the same goes for movies and music as well.
So, it feels good to get that out there in the open, to come out of my closet, as it were. I am now an open and affirming book reader who discriminates against no book based on genre.
Also, as I post this, I’m listening to this podcast from The Kindlings Muse on Christian Contributions to and Consumptions of fantasy and myth. It’s a very interesting discussion (with Jeffrey Overstreet and others) around the fear of fantasy in Christian circles, as well as the idea of embodying the gospel in our stories instead of merely telling a linear story. I highly recommend you listen, too – especially if you have ambivalence toward fantasy.
[Shameless plug: to listen to The Kindlings Muse podcasts I participated in, go here for the links].