Photo: Salvatore Di Giovanna (2008)
I’ve always bristled at categorizing my writing although I recognize it’s important for marketing purposes. Writing for kids seemed natural because I always saw promise and openness in young people. Adults can be very set in their identities, roles, and futures. Kids play with new ideas, try them out. The distinction between writing for older or younger kids also was easy. I like both age groups and have a tendency to jump from one to the other once I finish a given novel. Having to adapt to a different audience allows me an opportunity to play in different ways.
But then an agent or publisher wants to know sub-genre. What’s my sub-genre? Here’s where things get tough. Traditionally, my work would be lumped into fantasy or science fiction, sometimes paranormal. But is it?
Photo: Ole Anders Flatmo (2013)
This week I learned about a newly emerging genre called visionary fiction. According to the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA), this category of writing “embraces spiritual and esoteric wisdom, often from ancient sources, and makes it relevant to our modern life.” It does this without preaching to the reader. Furthermore, there is a strong emphasis on the growth of consciousness while often employing reincarnation, dreams, visions, and psychic abilities within the novel. Human characters in visionary fiction point to our limitless potential to transform and evolve.
I write visionary fiction. For more information on this genre and books which fall into it, visit the VFA by clicking on the link on the sidebar.
Filed under Books, writing
There are a lot of books available for teens today. For a smart, discerning young adult, the range and quality of the work has never been better. But I’m often dismayed by the lack of value (my judgment call here) a good portion of the popular literature offers. At least, insofar as what sells best. There are those books that entertain (and they should), and fill an afternoon, but don’t remain. Don’t challenge the teen, don’t teach the teen, don’t inspire the teen – in short, they’re fluff. Like an ice cream sundae soon consumed and soon forgotten. I know as parents, we’re just happy our kid is reading. There are so many who don’t.
That’s why when I find one of those quiet books, that don’t sell phenomenally well but offer something of depth for the soul, I want to highlight it. I read The Ghost of Spirit Bear a few months ago and it is one of those special books that continues to resonate.
The Ghost of Spirit Bear is a sequel to Touching Spirit Bear, a book that is being used in schools to combat bullying. In the first book, an angry and defiant teenager who has severely beaten a school mate chooses Circle Justice over jail. Cole Matthews finds himself exiled to a remote Alaskan island to do penance for his crime. In that year, Cole is mauled by a bear and faces surviving the harsh environment of the north. Alone on the island he faces his demons and takes responsibility for what he did. The Ghost of Spirit Bear picks up with Cole returning to his urban high school and facing all the same challenges that existed before his exile. Bullying is rampant, the school is dangerous, and the administrators don’t care. The rage that Cole conquered on the island begins to return.
The heart of the story concerns how Cole uses the Tlingit wisdom tradition’s teachings in a modern world. During the banishment Cole is forced inward to find out who he is and how to control his emotions. Back in the real world, he must work to maintain his sense of peace and develop a new place for himself. As he holds onto his center, he reaches out to change the negative conditions around him.
I have found very few fiction books for kids that depict a wisdom tradition and expose youth to detailed meditation practices. This is one of them. It is refreshing to see how Cole’s inner transformation becomes externalized and in doing so, changes his world.