As a life-long reader of fantasy, most of the genre conventions seem normal to me. Strange names, new languages, different rules of reality, the period of orientation to a fantastic realm–none of these things make me think twice. The “weird” seems conventional.
But as I’ve talked to those who don’t read speculative fiction, I’ve realized that on the surface these aspects can seem intimidating or too strange, certainly not like something they would enjoy. Add these trappings of the genre to certain cultural notions (like fantasy is escapist or only for children/teens), and a number of people determine to avoid it without ever giving it a try.
Yet I’ve come to realize that many non-fantasy readers enjoy the genre–if properly introduced to it. These tales connect with things deep in the human heart–the yearning for something greater, for something beyond the world we see with our natural eyes. And most people can relate to these desires in some form.
Of course, not everyone will enjoy speculative fiction, no matter which type they try, but most times when I suggest a speculative title to those who normally don’t read in this genre, they’re pleasantly surprised.
Given my experiences, I think word-of-mouth recommendations that interest people in stepping beyond their normal genre selections could help fantasy grow in the Christian market. So I’ve made it a bit of a mission to connect non-fantasy readers with speculative books they will enjoy. Perhaps they might find a fairy-tale type story more accessible than an epic fantasy with countless new names and places. Or they might enjoy a suspense touched with speculative. And so the reading journey begins.
What about you? Have you tried to recommend books to your friends/family who don’t normally read speculative fiction?