To celebrate the release of the 2nd Anthology of The Crossover Alliance, we have conducted an interview of sorts to showcase the contributing authors and to give some background to their stories to see where the edgy and speculative elements originate. There are no questions in this interview, just the authors being in the driver's seat telling of their inspiration that led to their stories.
Before we continue, here is the background to The Crossover Alliance for those visitors who do not know what we are about:
The Crossover Alliance is an online publishing company built around edgy Christian speculative fiction - in general terms, Christ-centered speculative fiction with edgy content, such as sexual themes, language, drug use, or violence. The term 'edgy' not only encompasses content though - it can also be applied to certain situations/themes/character deficiencies that are not typically found or ‘allowed’ in Christian fiction. This unique genre crosses the line of both secular fiction and Christian fiction and creates a new breed - not just to appeal to a wider audience, but also to shed light on realistic, entertaining writing that has the power to appeal to both Christians and non-Christians alike.
The Crossover Alliance is where light shines brighter in the darkness.
What We Publish
When we say 'Speculative Fiction' you might be wondering what that covers exactly. The term Speculative Fiction encompasses a multitude of different genres: fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, etc. But the term Speculative can also be applied to fiction that attempts to 'speculate' on spiritual matters. Much of Tosca Lee's work is speculative, as her book, Havah - The Story of Eve, tells of what happened in the Garden of Eden, the fall of Man, and Eve's life after the Garden. However, since the exact situations occurring within the Garden and within Eve's own life are not fully detailed within the Bible, Tosca has to speculate on what might have occurred. This is fiction, but it is speculative because she is speculating. All this to say that in the Crossover Alliance, the term speculative means much more than just science fiction and fantasy. The term can encompass mysteries, thrillers, and even historical pieces.
To investigate more about The Crossover Alliance, go here:
The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 2
Human trafficking. Vampires. Abortion.
These aren't typical themes you would find in a Christian story. But this isn't a typical collection of Christian stories. In the Crossover Alliance's second volume of short stories showcasing edgy Christian speculative fiction, you'll journey through worlds of fantasy, fight against slavery, face your darkest demons, and confront an overwhelming darkness that only the King's light can overcome.
Just don't turn away from these tales, because, in these stories, light shines brighter in the darkness.
````````````````````````````````````````````Ok, grab a coffee and let the authors of The Crossover Alliance tell you about their stories that comprise our 2nd Anthology:
Bio: I am a copywriter and editor in the Chattanooga area. I've been writing stories since I was in middle school and though I always wanted my stories to reflect my faith, I didn't always go about it in the ways people expected. A peer told me that writing about elves and magic was Satanic while I worked on my first novel, but I thankfully shook off his comments because I recognized them as stemming from a small view of the power of story and the freedom and creativity we are called to in Christ.
When I came to Chattanooga as a graduate student, I wanted to push the limits of what I could do as a writer and as a student in my creative writing program. I decided early on to write a series of stories set in the same town, John Valley, to give myself a setting and cast of characters to work with throughout the program. The first story to appear through that effort eventually became the story in this anthology, "The Debt-Keeper," and it flavored the rest of the collection.
The original concept for this story was "What would it look like if Christ's three days in the grave when He confronted death and hell were moved to the modern American South?" Creating a setting in which that was possible made narrative decisions for the others stories that allowed me to have fun exploring that setting. I am happy to say that two other stories from John Valley have recently been published in a Halloween anthology from Oloris Publishing (http://olorispublishing.com/project/when-the-house-whispers/). I am hoping to write more stories in John Valley soon, including a haunted house tale that's been stewing since I finished the first set of stories.
Bio: Mark spent more than eight years in China before returning to the USA with his wife and two children. Besides writing, Mark is passionate about art, tattoos, heavy metal, Gothic literature, and medieval architecture.
He lives with his family in Atlanta, GA.
I wrote The Tattered Man in Farmer Jake's Cornfield when I was a sophomore in college in 2002. During that time, I was particularly interested in the charmingly creepy stories of Ray Bradbury, and I wrote this story as a sort of homage to his style. I am especially proud of this story for winning the 2002 Saugus, MA Ghost Story Contest, even though I have never been to Saugus or even heard about it before that contest. My prize was a t-shirt.
Bio: After a very long hiatus from dabbling in poetry and screenwriting, I began writing fiction in late 2014. This newfound love consumes me, maybe too much (Nah, what am I thinking?). With little time, and a wife and three boys whom I adore, I try to make the most of the time I do have. As I see it, I am a slow writer, but I’m trying to come up with ways to improve and become more efficient.
I have a very odd path back into writing, and part of that path are these three books, which helped me gather the focus and determination needed for this step: Wild at Heart, A Million Miles In a Thousand Years, and The Inheritance Cycle series. One thing that John Eldridge said in Wild at Heart is, and I paraphrase: The reason so many men spend so many Sundays watching football from the couch is because that’s the biggest adventure they will ever have. That was me at the time. That was the kickstart I needed to live a bigger adventure. I still love football, but I no longer need it; I have a bigger adventure to live, and I want to share it with you.
The Duogla Stones is the first of five short stories in a series that I am currently wrapping up. The series is called The Dwarves of Getallumane. Each story is woven integrally to the others to form a single plot, while at the same time able to stand alone with plots unique to each character. In addition to this short story series, there will be an accompanying novel series which takes place in the broader land. It may have been a mistake of mine, but I have intentionally written the Dwarves of Getallumane series in such a way as to leave the reader with questions that will ultimately not be understood without the context of the novel. So I guess I’m thinking about the big picture. The full series has a tentative release date of February 2016. Part of my journey into writing involved voiceover, as odd as that sounds, so when the series is complete, I will be creating an audio version as well.
The inspiration for the short story series about dwarves comes from my real life. My day job keeps me busy in the mines, just like a dwarf. I work full time as a hard rock miner, so I get a unique perspective on mining that most people do not get. Having hands-on mining experience was very helpful in writing these short stories, so I was able to incorporate real practices and procedures into them.
I have also recently finished the first draft of a long Sci-fi novel. This project is what I am most excited about, but I guess I should not talk about it much yet.
Bio: In speculative fiction, I have been published twice before, both times in e-magazines. (Both magazines went out of business shortly thereafter but I don’t think that was my fault.) The first one was “A Measure of the Depth” in Residential Aliens, a Christian-themed speculative fiction e-zine (residentialaliens/measure-of-depth) and the second one was “The Designer” In Ray Gun Revival, issue 57, 2010. Both are in the Military Science Fiction category.
The rest of my publication history is in the engineering and physics technical literature (about 90 articles combined peer reviewed and technical conferences, 4 book chapters, and about 29 patents in the open literature.)
Almost all my fiction writing has been done with my daughters in mind; so it is by nature anchored around female protagonists, and character driven. (Of course, that means that my list of favorite authors includes Anne McCaffrey and, on the YA front, H. M. Hoover.)
The Background to my Story:
As a standalone story, you could think of “Template of the Rephaim” as a “what if?” story: What if the Conan the Barbarian stories took place in Victorian England? If you have read Robert E. Howard’s stories, I hope the same sword and sorcery motifs, and the same physicality, come through.
But, as you ask for background: these stories are a kind of Historical Fiction. It is our 19th century except that, where today we think of Montague Summers’ books as records of superstition (The Werewolf, The Vampire his Kith and Kin, etc.) and of Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia as another speculation about the UFO phenomenon, all those things are here true and connected.
As a horror story, I wanted to create a world where supernatural evil exists but where demonic powers do not have arbitrary powers – which is the problem (the lie) with most of mainstream entertainment horror movies. I mean, for instance, the Bible does not ascribe to demons the power or authority to kill people. (Ok, one apocryphal Book notwithstanding.) So, the challenge was, how to craft the stories within those constraints.
There is another challenge. This is horror fiction. How do you carry out its purpose (deliver its message) without crossing the line? I’m reminded of an interview that Cristopher Lee gave in 1975, in which he touched on this from the angle that his job was to be an actor in horror movies, and as he said, regarding one of those movies, “we felt a little uneasy. You know, you are saying terrible things... “
Bio: A childhood automobile accident left me somewhat less than athletic, and so I became a voracious reader early on, particularly of poetry, military history, sci-fi, and fantasy. However, I didn't start writing my own spec-fiction until my mid-forties. I would scribble scenes and storylines between stained glass commissions and ended up taking a creative writing course at a local college in 2009. It was there my first novel (Running Black) took shape, which was self-published late the following year. Since then, I've adjusted my work schedule to include more writing time, and hammered out another novel, (Shift Tense) two collections of related short stories, (the Clar1ty Wars books) the Celtic ghost story, "The Barrow Lover" and the stand-alone short, "Sozo".
"Sozo" was one of those all-consuming road flares of inspiration; something that burst in my mind without invitation, and gripped me until it was finished. I really can't link it to any specific inciting incident. I wrote and re-wrote it over the course of a month. I guess certain political/social tensions, military actions, and the ugly reality of human trafficking all coalesced into a piece about basic human decency and responsibility to act, however flawed the person or action.
Author of Then Shall All the Trees of the Field
Bio: Lelia Rose Foreman here. My first published work of science fiction was the short story Hope in Orbit 21, edited by Damon Knight. In print now is the middle-grade science fiction novel Shatterworld. Presently I am working with my oldest son, a video game artist, on a young adult series to be called Tales of Talifar which we hope to start publishing in 2016. (Be looking for The Scarred King) I am thrilled to have a story in Crossover Alliance Anthology 2.
I love the anthropomorphic psalms and Bible verses where nature is celebrating God. I’m also a fangirl of trees. So of course, I love Isaiah 55:12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. I wondered: What if the verse were not metaphorical, but literal? What would a world in which trees had enough sentience to worship God look like?
John J Zelenski
Bio: John lives in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania where he watches the seasons unfold with his wife and two children. He has written two novels, Walker’s Vale and The Journal of Ezekiel Walker. Walker’s Vale is presently in pre-production with Allegentsia Productions in Hollywood being adapted into a motion picture.
I have always loved stories. Whether being the performer or sitting in the audience, I’ve always believed that a good story will be remembered forever. Creating and writing stories is my ultimate form of expression - relating to others who I am (or not) and where I’ve been (or would like to go).
As an author, it is my preference to write from a Christian perspective in the supernatural / paranormal / horror genre. That being said however, having had my own paranormal experiences as a child, I felt this style of writing was chosen for me rather than me inadvertently discovering the unexplained.
My philosophy, if you can call it that, is simple yet profoundly complex. In the words of one of my story’s characters, “Not everything in this life can be explained.” And to me, that is the crux. The unexplainable, the unresolved, the questions that simply have no answers hold the key to recognizing life’s greatest mystery. Only an unlimited God can know the limits of our understanding. Without the darkness, we would not appreciate the light.
In my story, The Attic, a man realizes that the seeds of sin he’s planted throughout his life have finally borne much evil fruit. Negative emotions we hold onto – those things we refuse to let go of, will eventually take root and will produce byproducts of their own kind. It is at that time when we look in the mirror and no longer recognize the person staring back. The heart is a fertile soil. What we allow in will bring forth a harvest – very good or extremely evil. My inspiration for this story came from Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Bio: My name is Michele Archer; I’ve published two novels with MuseItUp Publishing, “The Calling of Mike Malone,” and, “Danny Doc Dilly and the Dangerous Duck.” In the fall of 2016 they will be producing my third novel, “Spectre.” Before that there have been a number of short stories published in different magazines.
I’ve always enjoyed telling tales. Even when I was a little kid growing up in Los Angeles, I and my friends would get together to see who could tell the scariest story, or at least the one that held everyone’s attention. (In my experience…The Lady in White gets them every time.)(Oh, you don’t know that story? About the girl in white who keeps showing up along the roadside? I’ll have to tell you sometime. …you know, some people even say that it’s true…)
My anthology story, Innocent Blood, was given a pass on for many years. When the rejection letters had any kind of explanation it was this: “The places where you talk about abortion clinics selling body parts are much too unbelievable. This will never happen. Pushing your politics is not appreciated.”
To an extent, that was understandable because I started writing the story in 2004 and, of course, such a horror had not been heard of yet. But if you are writing speculative fiction, you look at the current state of things and ask yourself what’s next. It’s not a political question. In this case it was the obvious next step, because man playing God sends us into such a downward moral spiral.
Then, of course, once the action is established, you ask the question again…what’s next? What then happens to innocent blood? That is where the possibility for horror grows so huge that the Lady in White looks like a gentle fairy tale by comparison.
I’m very thankful that the Crossover Alliance was willing to take a risk and enter this story in its anthology.
Nathan James Norman
Bio: I am a reluctant Southern Baptist pastor. I say "reluctant" because I had intended to make the creative arts my career. Over the course of seminary training, one of my professors (J. Kent Edwards) showed me how I could incorporate my creativity into expository, biblical preaching. So, while most of my energy goes into preaching these days, I also host a monthly podcast that features free audio speculative fiction from some amazing Christian authors. (www.untoldpodcast.com) I also try to write my own fiction when I have the time.
Two of my stories appear in this year's anthology.
The True Light is a story I wrote in honor of my wife. From the time we began dating to the present, she has always found herself walking in very dark and difficult places. Sometimes those places are actively hostile to Christians. Whereas many would just walk away from such challenges, she is stubborn and resolute for the Lord. Like all of our walks, hers an an imperfect one, but she continues to persevere. This story reflects this reality.
The Silver Dance was born in a homiletics class with J. Kent Edwards (http://www.oasischurchoc.com/pastor.php). After spending quite a bit of time trying to figure out the story in 1 Samuel 14, I spent two hours driving home late one evening. As I crawled along the Southern California highway, this story came to mind. Word for word. I sat down at a computer the next day and wrote it all out. (For those interested I preached a first-person sermon from this text this summer: http://www.orchardchurch.net/sermons/how-to-discover-gods-will-first-person). I normally don't like stories that do this sort of "biblical ripoff" but for some reason I felt like this worked.
Bio: Jess is an author of supernatural thrillers that explore spiritual themes. As a devoted follower of Christ, Jess aims to write stories that intrigue and entertain while tirelessly pursuing the truth. He resides in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife, and works in the publishing industry.
I became involved with The Crossover Alliance when it was a simple attempt to group together Christian authors writing edgy, speculative fiction. From the time my fellow alliance members hatched the truly insane plan to grow it into a publishing entity, I hitched my wagon to the cause. I am an official Crossover Alliance member and author, with all rights and privileges that come with such a position.
In my case, I write horror. That's right. I write horror with lots of uncomfortable terrifying moments, and copious amounts of bloodletting. But with a message of redemption, of course. My message is simple. Give Jesus a go and sidestep the horror. Otherwise, you might end up as a featured character in one of my cautionary tales.
My latest entry into The Crossover Alliance Anthology, volume 2 is The Reflecting Pool. This demented tale of young love and its folly was inspired by nothing more than a picture of an abandoned reflecting pool at an estate in Florida and a vague sense of gothic direction. Once I started writing, the characters became clear and before I knew it I had a complete short story. Sometimes, all it takes is a single moment or a flash of thought to be the spark that ignites the fire of a story. And as long as I am inspired and have the desire, I will continue to write. I hope you will join me.
David N. Alderman
Bio: David is the founder of The Crossover Alliance. He is an indie author of more than a half-dozen books and participates in National Novel Writing Month each year. When he's not writing or spending time with family, you can find David racking up his achievement score on his Xbox 360, questing in Guild Wars 2, or killing opponents in a game of Half Life 2: Deathmatch on Steam.
I seem to have an easier time writing short stories than I do novels. That never used to be the case. I always dreaded short stories because there’s more pressure to be on point and tell a story in a lot less words than when writing an epic novel/novel series where you can pack everything with extra dialogue and action scenes. Short stories are just that: short, and to the point. When I sat down and wrote out the draft for unLoved, the story came so naturally, I wondered if it had been trapped inside of me for a multitude of years. But it only took me a couple of days to sketch out the whole thing.
My main character, Leah Worth, is perpetually bullied by life and those around her. She is abused – physically and emotionally. She is forsaken by those who were charged with loving and caring for her. I can relate to her on a scope of different levels. I’ve had many points in my life where I have felt the same. I’ve been betrayed, I’ve been neglected, and I’ve been unLoved. There were times I felt worthless, times I felt unimportant and unnoticed. Invisible.
The challenge with writing unLoved wasn’t the character demons, as I’ve faced them in my own life before. The real challenge was the sexual content. Leah is a sex slave who is constantly traded around the intergalactic space lanes, treated as an object, as a pleasure toy for others’ enjoyment. With a powerfully tragic background, she falls in line with thinking God has abandoned her to a life of filth and degradation. She is essentially unLoved – or at least feels that way.
In a society where sexual content is given a sparkle and shimmer that makes it appealing even in its most grotesque forms, it’s hard for many Christians and non-Christians to believe that a Christian story can be written with sexual content. Many Christian writers cover up the filth with cleverly written lines that veer the reader around things ‘too tough to face’. With unLoved, I faced sexual slavery head-on and imagined what it would be like to be a character stuck in that kind of life, traded like a tarnished cup full of immorality for every man and woman to take a sip of.
In the end, we are faced with the question: Are we really unLoved when bad things happen to us? Even if our whole life feels like it’s been on the wrong side of the tracks, does it mean God has abandoned us? Or do we trust that Jeremiah 29:11 is true when it says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”?