Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Long and Winding Road My Writing Journey – C. S. Lakin- Part II
Then one day, filled with despair over my lack of creative outlet and my need to write eating away at me like an acid or cancer, I prayed to God. I prayed for God to renew my fire to write. I prayed to be inspired with ideas and drive. I prayed for God to tell me what to write, how I could encourage and inspire others with my novels. I wasn’t prepared for the answer.
To make a very long story not so long, God always seems to point me to books for answers I seek. Often a book will “magically” appear on a café table or will be handed to me by a friend who says, “I don’t know why I’m giving you this book, but I think you should read it.” Through one book that led to another and another, I ended up with Chesterton’s Orthodoxy in my hand. I devoured this little volume, but my heart snagged on the chapter about fairy tales. By the time I finished that chapter I knew exactly what I was supposed to write. Okay, fairy tales are a far cry from contemporary relational dramas that have a random dead body strewn in for good measure here and there. But as soon as I thought about fairy tales, I grew excited. I was a big fantasy reader and had grown up with traditional fairy tales. I knew how powerful and archetypal they were. But aside from one contemporary author who wrote fairly crass, poorly plotted, and uninteresting takeoffs on fairy tales (and yes, you would know who I am talking about; he is a huge best-selling author), no one else was writing in this “genre.” And no one at all was writing Christian fairy tales—or ones infused with a Christian worldview. I thought it would be great to take those old fairy tales and twist them into new, long, complex stories. And so I set to work. I knew this idea would take the publishing world by storm.
I was wrong. I took The Wolf of Tebron to a writers’ conference and met with all the agents and editors there, knowing they would beg me to send my manuscript to them. They didn’t. In fact, they kept telling me no one in the Christian publishing market would look at them because no one published fantasy. Except a random one or two authors or books here and there. And those had been so lame the sales scared these editors away from trying again.
I was shocked. I knew the statistics. That millions of readers of fantasy were “out there.” That nearly every young Christian, when asked what they loved to read, loved fantasy. There was a huge market, ripe and ready to buy my books. The editors agreed, but they said they just couldn’t “take the leap.” But I did. It is a leap of faith to be obedient to what God puts in your heart to do. God did answer that prayer—put a fire in my heart to write again. I proceeded to write the first three fairy tales in my Gates of Heaven series. I kept pitching these books, my agent kept sending out queries, and I saw how many writers were starting to also write fantasy for the Christian market. It was if we all had gotten the memo and were doing what we were told, although there were no “signs” that anyone would buy what we wrote.
God knows, of course, what the future holds. And I believe he knew doors would start opening for fantasy and called for some volunteers to jump right in. I’ve been so pleased to see this market opening up over the past few years. I was blessed to connect with a publisher with the same vision as mine, that saw fantasy as a mission field ripe and ready for planting and harvesting. AMG contracted my series and at this point we are aiming at seven books. I’m currently beginning the fifth tale in the series.