I posted a new entry on the Speculative Faith blog, and I'm copying it here in my own blog. It's part three in a series called, "Why Fantasy."
Sometimes I feel like the most blessed person on earth. Every single day I get messages, either through e-mail or postal mail, telling me how my books have affected someone's life for the better. When I first began writing Christian-based fantasy, I hoped the stories would help some readers, but I had no idea that the response would be so huge.
I put together a page of some of the responses to give you an idea of their content. Here's the link: Click Here
These are just a few, and although I haven't counted, I think the number of responses I've received is now over two thousand--from simple rebuilding of faith to prevention of suicide. And when I think that each message probably represents many, many more, I am overwhelmed with blessed satisfaction.
Why does Christian fantasy affect readers so profoundly? I don't know for sure, but I have an idea.
I believe fantasy allows us to write about characters we would all like to be. It displays heroes who are powerful, courageous, and holy. The overwhelming favorite character in my series is a teenager named Bonnie Silver. She is faithful, brave, and loyal--my ideal girl. She has fears and doubts, but she conquers them with an amazing faith.
Some have called her "unrealistic," but my readers (and I) beg to differ. They believe they can be like her. One girl embroidered "Bonnie Silver" on her cap. She told me that every time she puts it on, it reminds her to have faith like Bonnie's. Another girl and her friend memorized a prayer Bonnie says, a two-and-a-half page prayer, and they pray it together before school, putting the names of their unsaved friends in the prayer.
The fantasy hero, usually an unlikely hero, is someone we can identify with. Most of us long to do something great, to step beyond the mundane and make a real difference. When we see a fantasy character achieving that kind of great feat, our hearts are right with him. The unbelievable, at least for a moment, becomes believable, and our hearts leap.
I think God programs that desire into us. He wants us to step beyond the normal and walk into the realm of what seems impossible. As we walk in that realm with Him, He shows us how to achieve something great for His kingdom. What seemed fantastic and beyond our reach, comes into view and into our grasp, and we really can complete that fantasy journey.
So, I believe Christian fantasy, unlike any other genre, opens the door of faith to allow us to believe the impossible. It shows us that the spiritual world is real, and we can be those unlikely heroes who complete awesome adventures. We really can be strong, brave, and holy.
As each new message comes into my mailbox, I realize that my own awesome adventure, my dream of how writing can change lives, is coming true, and in a way that is far beyond anything I hoped for.