WHAT MAKES VISIONARY FICTION VISIONARY?
Sandy Nathan © 8/28/2012
I write visionary fiction. A while back, I was surprised when one of my books was reviewed as science fiction. And then it happened again, and again. Earlier, my book Numenonwas reviewed as fantasy. I was shocked. To me, it was a write up of my meditation experience.
Now, I don’t really care. You can read my books as whatever you want, be it sci-fi, fantasy, or visionary. Even so, I’d like you to know how I define visionary fiction and what about my books puts them in that category.
To me, visionary fiction rests on a core of moral principle. St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous maxim, “Do good and avoid evil,” spells it out about as clearly as it gets. Visionary fiction contains a moral core and a belief in the ability of individuals and society to evolve in a positive fashion, overcoming evil and generally setting the world right.
Does this mean that visionary fiction is by nature a Polly-Anna-ish or The Secret-ish exercise in “Keep up a cheery front and everything will be groovy in the sweet bye and bye”?
Some visionary fiction fits that mold and has been very well received by readers. This includes some of the best-known examples of the genre. That “happy ever after” quality fits the needs and expectations of many readers.
But! What if you aren’t the typical reader? What if you want a message with a wallop? A message with teeth, that addresses the hard issues you face in your life?
I’m like that. I hate anything easy, simpering, obvious, trite, and watered-down. My writing reflects my preferences. It contains violence, sexual situations, strong language, and doesn’t give away its ending until it ends. Happy endings are not guaranteed in my work. I’d give my novels an R rating if they were movies. (Though they’re way, way less violent than stuff I’ve seen on TV and in the movies. Like the TV series 24 and the smash hit book and movie, The Hunger Games.)
So what about this? Is my work visionary fiction? Should I make it sweeter or tone it down? Call it something else?
I’d like to share a story with you. I was at a meditation retreat a few years back. Some of us participants had corralled one of the monks in a hallway between meditation sessions and bombarded him with questions.
Someone asked, “Why do some people have very calm and undramatic spiritual paths, whereas other people have huge spiritual experiences and their lives go up and down and all over the place?”
The monk answered with something like, “Different people have different lives and spiritual needs. Some people live very quiet lives. They have spiritual realizations that are subtle and deep. Their spiritual experiences reflect this. They may be very profound, but they’re not showy. These people are absolutely on a spiritual path. They get what they need in quiet ways.”
On the other hand, he said, “Some people’s spiritual experiences are huge––dramatic lights, visions, voices, feeling like the hand of God has reached down to re-orientate their lives. These experiences fit the personalities of the people having them. Their lives are often tumultuous. They may have had abusive or traumatic experiences to overcome.
“The various types of spiritual experience fit the people who have them. One isn’t better than the other. If you have subtle experiences, you don’t have to long for a whopper. Whatever experience you have is fine. The important thing is that you live in such a way that you have the experiences.”
That was one of the most useful teachings I’ve ever gotten. I am a person who has very large spiritual experiences, usually in connection with trauma or loss. I’ve always wanted to be one of those contained, tranquil, angelic babes that you see floating around in spiritual circles.
But it just isn’t me. That isn’t how my soul operates or my artistic vision, either. Years ago, I produced sculpture. Dynamic, emotion-filled pieces that won prizes in art shows. I longed to produce something gentle. I did, too! One piece. That was it.
When I began writing, my work was illuminated by spirit and filled with light. Also some of the nastiest bad guys and most hideous situations you’ll ever see. Jungians call that working on the dark side, and prize it. Some critics of my work haven’t been so kind.
The thing is, we write what we’re given. I have lived through some situations so horrifying that I will never talk about them. Directly. My fiction is a way of working through my emotional debris. It’s not always bright and shiny. It may not show humanity pointing in an upward direction––right then.
But the moral core is there, and so is my abiding belief that at least some of us are on the good road. The road of spirit and light.
Some people need the grittier type of material I write. My work is for people who have been impacted by alcoholism, drug abuse, or mental illness. This could be their own illness, addiction, or disease or what they’ve had to face due to evil perpetrated upon them by others. My writing is for those lovely, blissful souls who have the smooth path, but like a thrill now and then. It’s also for those of us who know the other side.
It’s for those who know what can happen, and also know that the scars can be erased and the trauma overcome if you’re willing to work.
So that’s the source of my stories.
About Sandy Nathan:
Sandy Nathan writes to amaze and delight, uplift and inspire, as well as thrill and occasionally terrify. She is known for creating unforgettable characters and putting them in do or die situations. She writes in genres ranging from science fiction, fantasy, and visionary fiction to juvenile nonfiction to spirituality and memoir.
“I write for people who like challenging, original work. My reader isn’t satisfied by a worn-out story or predictable plot. I do my best to give my readers what they want.”
Mrs. Nathan’s books have won twenty-two national awards, including multiple awards from oldest, largest, and most prestigious contests for independent publishers. Her books have earned rave critical reviews and customer reviews of close to five-star averages on Amazon. Most are Amazon bestsellers.
Sandy was born in San Francisco, California. She grew up in the hard-driving, achievement orientated corporate culture of Silicon Valley. Sandy holds Master’s Degrees in Economics and Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. She was a doctoral student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and has been an economic analyst, businesswoman, and negotiation coach, as well as author.
Mrs. Nathan lives with her husband on their California ranch. They bred Peruvian Paso horses for almost twenty years. She has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Her latest books are The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy, Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love and Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground, which are all part of the Tales from Earth’s End series.
You can visit her website at www.sandynathan.com.
Visit her blogs: http://sandranathan.net and http://yourshelflife.com (blog for writers) http://talesfromearthsend.com (series blog)
Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sandyonathan
Friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandy.nathan.author
To purchase a paperback copy of Sandy Nathan’s The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Brown-eyed-Boy-Sandy-Nathan/dp/0976280906
Purchase at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-angel-the-brown-eyed-boy-sandy-nathan/1028502802?ean=9780976280903
About The Angel and the Brown-eyed Boy:
Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: A teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.
By the late 22nd century, the Great Recession of the early 2000s has lead to a worldwide police state. A ruined United States barely functions. Government control masks chaos, dissenters are sent to camps, and technology is outlawed. War rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.
Finally it all breaks down. We’re in New York City on the eve of nuclear Armageddon. In the morning, ultimate destructive forces will wipe out all life on earth. Only Jeremy Edgarton, a 16-year-old, tech genius and revolutionary; and Eliana, the angelic, off-world traveler sent to Earth on a mission to prevent her planet’s death, can save the world. Join Eliana and Jeremy as they begin a quest to save two doomed planets … and find each other.
Winner of Four National Awards:
● 2011 IPPY (Independent Press) Award Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction.
● 2011 Indie Excellence Award in Visionary Fiction (Winner of Catergory)
● Best Books of 2011, USA Book News:
- Winner, New Age Fiction
- Finalist Fantasy/Sci-Fi
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