Red State fiction, Blue State fiction

When I was younger and far more naive, I had this idea about the publishing world: Since the nation is increasingly divided between red and blue, publishers would seek a solution.

They would discover a budding Stephen King, a progressive. They would publish his work under one pen name in book with a blue spine. They would have a conservative ghost writer (using a Ouija board?) do a rewrite, pulling out all the progressive stuff and putting in sound conservative stuff. That would be published under a different pen name, in a book with a red spine.

People would read the authors that spoke to their worldview the most. And in time they would figure out the red/blue coding on the book covers. Writers would no longer have to cover up their worldview to get published, since every writer would be coming out in 2 editions with different viewpoints and names.

Readers in the know would collect both the red and blue versions of authors and they would guess which version was the original and which altered by ghost writers.

But, as I said, this was a naive idea. The scary idea is that progressive publishers, like other progressive businessmen, do not want our business. They think we are racist (even mixed race people like me) sexist deplorables. Haters because we love Jesus Christ and don’t want other people to face a Christless eternity in hell. Rather than seeking our dollars they seek to have our businesses go out of business or our employers fire us for being ‘haters.’

But conservative and/or Christian writers and readers have options. There is indie fiction, and there are small presses where our world view is the norm. By the same token, if you are so progressive that progressive publishers seem conservative, there are publishers that are more ‘out there.’ I know of several lesbian publishing houses and a feminist one. I’m sure there are general far-out progressive ones as well. And if you are too far out for them, there is the indie route.

Still, I think it was better when writers and fiction producers (in television and movies) wanted a broad audience. When Gene Roddenberry had to tone down his ideas of futuristic temporary marriages and an Enterprise chapel without chaplains, because he and the network wanted to INCLUDE conservatives and Christians in their audience base.

Commenters: your thoughts on the red/blue divide, publishing today, and indie fiction are welcome. Trekkies who want to go on a rant on how much better the Original Trek was than the new thing are also welcome.

5 thoughts on “Red State fiction, Blue State fiction

  1. Frankly, using the indie route, now might be a good time to unleash my Christian vampire novel on the public. I tried writing it in the mid-nineties and my Dad asked who would publish it. It wasn’t a good fit for either the CBA or the folks who published Anne Rice. And it is a vampire novel–not a romance novel! Not the same thing, regardless of what some folks think.

  2. Fascinating. I write redemption novels, literary fiction, in which at least one character has an encounter with God or a Christian. So far. none of this has raised any eyebrows. All four have been published with traditional, albeit small press. I’m a Christian but my writing offends some Christians.because of the violence, swearing and sexual content. One reader went as far as to suggest that I couldn’t possibly be a Christian and write what I write. Really? I said with my eyebrows high on my forehead.
    Re Star Trek: no rant, but TNG is my favourite series. I’m currently enjoying Discovery on Netflix. What a genius was Gene Roddenberry.

  3. While I am an advocate for clean fiction, I don’t think you can say ‘no Christian can write X.’ Christians can sin, after all. And Christians can have differing opinions on what their faith requires as far as their writing and reading life. I like Christian fiction with high levels of conflict which usually means violence. Some Christians want something far tamer than that.

    When competing with secular fiction we have to write something that will pass muster as secular fiction. We don’t have to drop a dozen f-bombs, but we shouldn’t make our work sound like Sunday school stories. The secular market wouldn’t accept that. There ARE Christian writers who make a living in the secular fiction world. Such as Dean Koontz who is often interviewed on the Catholic network EWTN. His books DO have Catholic elements but they don’t pound you over the head with it.

  4. Cairns the writing you describe makes me think of Flannery O’Connors. Her novels are redemption stories. Evangelicals dislike their gritty realism, flawed characters with complex motives and lack of sugary, sexless romancing.

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