Christian publishing hasn’t changed much over the years. Sure, there’s been a collection of talented authors who have ushered the readership of Christian fiction over the edge a bit by pushing the boundaries of what Christian fiction entails. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker gave supernatural thrillers a new face. Tosca Lee has successfully hallmarked what speculative fiction encompasses with titles such as Havah. And of course, there are a handful of other authors doing their best to inch the boundary lines out to show us what Christian fiction could be like.
Overall, the industry hasn’t changed much, mainly because there’s always been a set of rules – spoken and unspoken – about what kind of fiction, what kind of content, is allowed in Christian fiction pieces. No cursing. No sex. No nudity. No violence. No abortion. No slavery. No. No. This isn’t to say that these rules don’t have good intentions behind them. But they are rules nonetheless, and these rules have created a cattle gate so to speak of how far a Christian author can go with their work before the hammer of rejection comes down swift and hard on them.
The same can be said for secular publishing companies, only in a different vein. Many secular publishers shy away from books containing Christian content. Their rule is one: If your book is too religious – or too Christian to be more specific – then you need to either cut the spiritual content out, water it down, or find another publisher.
These rules have kept authors on one side of the fence or the other. You either go the secular route and bury your Christian themes – or don’t write about them at all, or you go the Christian publishing route and write stories that contain no real-world content or ‘edgy’ themes, basically watering down your fiction for the sake of being a proper example.
I guess the real question is: Why do you write what you write? Is it to spread an agenda? Is it to wake up Christians or non-Christians to a truth? Is it to be true to the story that lives on within you, keeping you awake at night? If we’re writing simply to give Christians some ‘safe’ fiction to read, I guess going the Christian publishing route is a good move. If we’re writing to ‘witness’ to those who are not Christians, then we’re kind of stuck, aren’t we? Because secular publishers aren’t going to take our stuff if it’s full of Christ-centered themes, and you know that secular readers are not likely going to pick up books from a Christian publishing company unless they are seeking to be witnessed to.
It’s a strange paradox that has left an important group falling through the cracks: those who want to write fiction with Christ-centered themes without rules telling them what kind of content can or cannot be in their stories. These writers tend to write because the story inside of them demands to be written. These writers want to reach the world with their fiction not just to shine light in the darkness, but also to show that they are skilled writers who care about their stories, their characters, and aren’t easily manipulated into shifting all of that to appease a corporate body of naysayers who want everything to fit inside of a perfectly structured box.
And what of this box? Why was it created? How long has it been there? We know why the secular publishing companies don’t want Christian fiction in their houses. Christianity has a reputation for being religious, for being judgmental, for being charismatic. Too much Jesus will make the masses sick.
But why was this box created for Christian publishing? Was it created to make sure that innocent minds don’t venture into the dark, blood-soaked territory of science fiction, fantasy and horror? Is it to make sure that those foul words that our neighbors use when they are barbecuing on a Saturday afternoon don’t reach our eyes in the deep folds of a new book? Is it to make sure our children don’t think that magic is okay, to ensure that they believe that superpowers are evil and that fantasy is of the devil? Really, why were these rules created? Did we think that the Bible told us to not write stories of the real-world, of the real struggle that comes with living?
Don’t misinterpret. There’s discernment that needs to be at play with everything we do. We’re not talking about an uprising against Biblical values. We’re not talking about a purging of good conscience and morals. No. Nothing like that.
What we’re talking about is tearing down the walls of the box. Maybe it’s time we venture beyond the rules, beyond the boundaries that were set long ago for reasons many of us can’t even remember. Maybe it’s time we venture into the unknown and see what characters, what plots, what interesting things are waiting out there in the unexplored void.
Maybe it’s time for a revolution. Time to break the shackles of traditional Christian publishing and secular publishing. Maybe it’s time we did what we should have been doing all along.
This is why the Crossover Alliance exists. Over the years we have evolved from an online community to an online publishing company for what we called ‘edgy Christian speculative fiction’. We know that’s a mouthful, but it was tough trying to find an easy way of saying that we essentially write edgy Christian fiction but within the speculative genre – science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.
Since July 2015, we have been specializing in this unique and albeit niche of a genre. Our audience is growing as we continue to spread our presence online and build out our unique catalog. But we knew long ago that narrowing ourselves in this label would only go so far. Eventually, the road would need to widen, and we would need to show the world that we could be the publishing home for many different types of Christian fiction with that ‘edgy’, real-world content.
We are at that widening road now. What began as an experiment in publishing a Christian thriller – Mark Carver’s Beast, has proven to us that there is an audience for all sorts of different genres of Christian fiction. So beginning today, we open our doors to a wider array of Christian fiction genres. We’ll start taking – among the speculative genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror – westerns, thrillers, historical, supernatural, mystery, and just about any genre of fiction you can imagine as long as it doesn’t shy away from telling a true story – however edgy it may be – and it seeks to bring light to a dark world. There are a few exceptions though, as we will not currently be taking sweet romance or young adult fiction – but there may be plans to in the future.
We aren’t a big-name publisher like the other guys and gals. We’ve started from scratch, and we are building our foundation one brick at a time. We’re still finding our place out there in this crazy bookish world, but we’re blazing a trail for those of you who have had a hard time finding a publisher who will accept your out-of-the-box Christian story.
In the coming weeks you’ll see some new blog posts that will go into detail about what we do and specifically why we do it. Why should edgy content like violence, cursing, and even sexual content be allowed in Christ-centered fiction? Why should Christian authors tackle tough subjects like abortion, homosexuality, and slavery? Should we – as Christian authors – be true to the story or to the ‘rules’ of Christian publishing?
Want to join us in our publishing revolution? It doesn’t matter if you’re a reader or a writer of this type of fiction. We need you. We need you to break off the chains and join the Alliance. Share our website – and our books – with your friends and family. Tell other authors about what you’ve found in our corner of the publishing world. And if you have a manuscript that’s been dying to be told, break it out and send it our way. We even welcome readers/reviewers to our cause, and provide free digital copies of our books to those who are compelled to spread the word about what we write. You can even sign up for our email newsletter and score a free copy of our first short story anthology – the perfect sampler to get a feel for what type of fiction we specialize in.
Welcome to the Alliance!