I was asked why do you use the term Alternative Spiritual Fiction?
I confess this a is a genre I made up. I don’t like my work to be placed into a box, have boarders built around them, it feels to confining to me. I want my work to be free. To me when I use the word genre I’m limiting my work and I’m giving the perspective reader an avenue to assume a lot about my work.
This is how I look at it.
I consider myself an alternative spiritual novelist. My works take the reader into a realm of spiritual possibilities that may or may not have been considered. In my works the reader will most likely have to take time to ponder ideas that may challenge their traditional beliefs. Much of my writings emanate from events that are true yet muffled by our culture. I bring forward my stories for those whose attention at one time or another was drawn up into the night’s sky, or who whose courage prompted them to climb down deep into a cave where the hairs on the back of their neck raised, their eyes opened wide in disbelief. They were astonished by an incomprehensible experience, yet there wasn’t any doubt it was real. For in the night’s sky or in the deep cavern was the incomprehensible … the most dazzling incomprehensible experience …. the magnificent phenomena of mystery.
I was asked the other day by a fellow author what genre I write. “I’m an alternative spiritual novelist.” I replied.
He looked at me strangely “I’m a Christian Fiction writer, is your work of the Holy Spirit?”
“Well, not exactly.” I said, realizing that my readers probably have similar questions. “What I do is write a fictional novel, take my book Shades of Gray,” I told him, “to the core of it, it’s a woman’s adventure book. However, I put my characters on a path where eventually they will have to see beyond our material world and see that our soul is the greater part of living.”
“So they are saved by the grace of Christ right?”
“No, not typically. That’s why it’s alternative spiritual fiction, my characters explore other avenues of the soul rather than traditional means.”
He frowned, “But Christ is our savior … Christianity is the answer to our soulful problems.”
“I understand your position, I do.”
“I don’t think you do.” He said. “You are one of those ‘new agers’ who hasn’t taken the time to read the good book.”
“I’m sorry,” I interrupted his assumption, “ I graduated from a Christian University and I have read the Bible cover to cover at least three times, and I have studied its content, so I’m very acquainted with the good book.”
“So, you are a Christian.”
“No Sir, I’m not. Christianity failed me and thankfully through coincidence I found my true religion.”
“Do you care to elaborate?”
“I have never lost my faith in something greater than I am. I have always known there is a greater soul at work. One only has to take an anatomy class to see that we are created not evolved.”
“I agree with that.” He said looking at me intensely. I could tell he was of the evangelistic sort and wanted me to agree with him before our conversation ended. He felt it was his duty to identify Christ as my savior. I have seen this before when I went to the Christian University.
“I never failed to pray and I was certain the greater spirit would help me find the answers I was looking for. It’s been years ago, but I was rock climbing in a canyon in the southwest when I came across a very small hole. I could feel air coming out of this hole and I assumed it was a vent shaft for a mine. After a quick survey I was aware that there wasn’t any mining going on in this canyon. I had the urge to see inside the shaft. With great difficulty I wiggled my body into the hole.” I laughed and he looked at me.
“What’s funny about that?”
“If you know me at all, I am very claustrophobic so the idea of me wigging my way into a hole is funny. But that is how strong the urge was. On a soul level I couldn’t resist so with faith I committed to the shaft. Once the full length of my body was in, there was no turning back. I was freaked-out there in the dark and the dust having a hard time breathing while inching forward, but I did continue forward for what seemed like eternity … over an hour anyway. It was time enough for me to break down in panic and pray whole-heartedly. It was time enough to think about my life and how I had honored my soul but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. At some point one of my arms got pinned and I was stuck, I felt I had made a mistake and was certain I was going to die in that shaft. I thought about how no one would ever find my body in the deep hole. In that desperate situation I felt my soul take over and I was determined to get out of shaft and the only way was by going forward. I worked hard and finally wiggled my arm free.”
“So God rescued you?” He asked.
“Yea, you might say that … I believe that something or some spirit helped me in that situation.”
“You can never underestimate the power of God.”
“So, where did the shaft lead?”
“The shaft was a constant declination leading me not only forward but downward. Now remember I was in the American southwest.”
“The shaft ended in a large room, something built, and built intelligently. The room was made out of the natural stone, carved but not like you would think because the walls were smooth like polished marble. I write about this place in my book Shades of Gray. If you read my book I describe this chamber and that it had what looked like ancient Egyptian artifacts in it.”
“So.” He said.
“The place changed my life. In the southwestern United States was a place that was older than mankind, by Christian views, and was not supposed to exist. Yet here it was. And stored within were books and information that offered me knowledge as to how my soul, your soul, everyone’s higher being has a purpose. I learned in that system of chambers that we not only have a loving God, but we have a loving Goddess – we have celestial parents!”
“Rubbish.” He said.
“Not if you think about it. In nature everything has a balance, why not in the heavens? It makes perfect since that a Goddess, a maternal goddess is a part of us and has an interest in what we do. We mention her daily by saying Mother Nature, I’m sure you’ve said those words. It only makes sense that a Goddess would be involved with the earth.”
“What a fantasy! I don’t know where you were, but God doesn’t live in a hole. He works alone from a higher place and there is no reason for him to have a goddess. If I were you I would pray for forgiveness for embracing false gods … or goddess in this case.”
“I understand your point of view and I’m not telling you this story to convince you of anything. When we part I expect you to keep your point of view and your faith in Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. I’m only explaining that there are alternatives to our soulful work.”
“These kinds of alternatives are blasphemous in the eyes of the Lord.”
“No, I disagree, and the people that created the temple that is hidden in the ground knew of celestial parents and I am convinced they were correct. They had nothing to gain from deception. They lived a millennia before us, they had their beliefs and wrote them literally in stone. So, I have the alternative to believe in something important that was lost to mankind. Now I write about the things I’ve learned so that my readers can question the world they live in.”
“It’s your attempt to persuade your readers to leave Christianity and that is wrong.”
“Again, I disagree. I see nothing wrong with what people believe in. Most all religions have goodness at the core. I’m not asking anyone to turn their back on the religion they believe in. I write about real human experiences, human challenges that aren’t always things our secular world has an answer for. I have my characters explore soulful solutions. I’m not preaching. I’m only offering an alternative to working through human stresses and problems. I base the solutions for my characters from what I have come to understand from my own experiences.”
“What you write about is wrong and I doubt you will ever see success in your writing.”
“You have your opinion and I have mine but I don’t think what I write about is wrong. I figure if someone is reading my book and they don’t like the story they will put it down. Just as I do when I’m reading. If I don’t like the message or the story I can put the book down … it’s my choice.”
We bid each other good day and departed company. My day continued but the conversation hung in my head. I thought about the people that don’t know me and have purchased Shades Of Gray. I thought about the description of an Alternative Spiritual Novelist.
Are they really a description of who we are and what we do?
As an author we are required to have a platform to write from. We have a responsibility to our readers promising that they can expect to find the content of our work interesting. It would be wrong of me to tell people I’m an alternative spiritual novelist and then write about politics. I’m breaking my promise to you, the reader, that what I say I’m writing about is what your interested in.
In short my promise to my readers is that in my books you will find real human experiences that have spiritual considerations as solutions to their problems.
I hope this provides some clarity for those who have questioned my genre.
Let your spirit grow.