Thursday, January 13, 2011

What Is Speculative Fiction? Jeff Gerke Explains

Don't miss today's spotlight and book giveaway with Jessica Zondervan and her book Breathing On Purpose: Surviving the Death of a Loved One

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Guest post by Jennifer Slattery

After yesterday's interview, I hopped over to Amazon and ordered a copy of Plot Versus Character, then told my husband about it at dinner. His response: "So now you've got to rewrite your whole book?" Mine: "Pretty much." Good thing I'm only 37,000 words in.

Today Jeff Gerke, author of Plot Versus Character, talks about Marcher Lord Press and the type of material he publishes.

Me: Tell us more about your publishing company, Jeff. I perused your site a bit and was very impressed by your focus. It is clear you know your audience and are very passionate about speculative fiction. Are there certain guidelines you follow in regard to how far the envelope can be pushed or what topics are deemed appropriate for publication?

Jeff: I launched Marcher Lord Press in 2008. We publish Christian fantasy and science fiction and related genres (so-called speculative fiction).

I worked at three Christian publishing companies before starting my own. At every house, editors debated what content should and shouldn't go into the novels we published. Some wanted more "edgy" content (mainly sex, profanity, and taboo topics), while others wanted fiction free of those things.

It didn't really matter what we wanted, because everything was ruled by what I call the LOLB, the little old lady brigade. If a publisher produces a novel with, say, a four letter word, someone in the LOLB will go to the bookstore manager and say, "I'll never buy another book from this store!" The bookstore manager will call the publishing rep and say, "I'll never order another book from your house." The rep will go to the editorial VP and say, "Don't ever publish another book like that!" So the LOLB functions as a censorship force, for good or ill.

But when I broke off and went independent--especially when I decided I wasn't going to try to get into Christian bookstores--I was free of the LOLB's influence. Now I can put in whatever content I jolly well please.

It's interesting, though, because with the LOLB's influence removed, the decision about what to include or not include in my novels rests solely with me. Before, I could just complain about (or agree with) what the conditions were, but they were real limits. Now, though, no one will stop me from putting in just about anything. So now I have to decide. LOL. Part of me wants the LOLB back!

But not really.

Me: Okay, so your acronym really cracked me up. I think that will be a new Slattery household term. Actually, on second thought, my teenage daughter would have way too much fun with that one. I am very intrigued by Christian horror. In my opinion, every genre has its audience and every audience needs Christ, so I love seeing authors and publishing houses venture outside the norm. Is Christian horror speculative fiction?

Jeff: Absolutely. Christian speculative fiction includes SF, fantasy, horror, end times, paranormal, superhero, vampire, time travel, alternate history, alien invasion, spiritual warfare, ghosts, monsters, urban fantasy, modern magic, steampunk, cyberthriller, and more. Or, as I like to say, anything weird.

After you grab Jeff's Plot Versus Character book, hop on over to Marcher Lord Press to check out some of those other sub-genres he's mentioned. Then join us tomorrow as Jeff shares more about Marcher Lord Press.

Jeff is giving away a copy of Plot Versus Character. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway multiple times--once on each day's spotlight post.

Jeff Gerke is an author of fiction and nonfiction including such books as the Operation: Firebrand novels. He has worked as an editor for numerous publications and is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, an indie publishing company dedicated to producing the finest in Christian science fiction, fantasy, and other wonderfully weird genres.

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery

Scroll down so you don't miss today's spotlight and book giveaway with Jessica Zondervan and her book Breathing On Purpose: Surviving the Death of a Loved One


Yvonne Blake said...

*smile* That's funny...but I'm sure there's value in the LOLB.

Personally, I'm a character writer (and have trouble keeping the plot exciting). I'd love to see what Jeff has in his book to help me.

Laury said...

I've found myself checking the publisher at times when I'm reading a book thinking, "Wow! Christian book, right?" Many of us like to flirt around the outskirts and write real-life. There's too much fluff out there but there is a line not to be crossed, too. It's really hard to know that line at times. God should be our LLOB, I guess:) He's the best judge.

Caron said...

I love what MLP is doing . . . as well as a few of the other indie Christian publishers. It's an exciting time for Christian publishing, and it reflects the call for a good story, well-told, in any genre.

Bravo, Jeff! Kind of wish I was writing speculative fiction now. ;-)

Joanne Sher said...

Fascinating stuff. Don't think I'm a spec fic writer, but I admire what he's doing. :) Still want the book ;)

PatriciaW said...

Can't use that acronym in my house either, not since my teen already affectionately calls me "Old Lady".

I'm not a huge fan of speculative fiction, but I certainly admire the courage and wherewithal it took to start your own publishing company.

Julie Arduini said...

I remember reading Christian books in the early 1990's thinking there has to be someone, somewhere who is willing to write what I thought would be outside the box Christian fiction? Now there are some out there so outside the box I'm trying not to be the old lady! I've heard great things about Marcher Lord Press and look forward to reading more tomorrow.

And I'm still interested in the book. :)

Anonymous said...

I've been so blessed by the writing tips on Jeff's website. I'm even more excited about reading his book now!

Will Ramirez

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

"anything weird." love that.

the character therapist

Ruth Ann Dell said...

It been wonderful to watch Marcher Lord Press grow from strength to strength. I didn't realise speculative fiction covered such a wide range of sub genres.

I also loved the comments about the LOLB!

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