King Arthur – My Odds Just Got Worse!!

Here I just posted about how difficult the odds are to get published in the Christian speculative fiction genre, and now my own personal odds just got worse!

I even knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t think it would be this soon. Once Stephen Lawhead started re-releasing his older books (Song of Albion and the Dragon King series) I knew it was bound to happen. It turns out that he was just notified that HarperCollins is going to “re-release the entire Pendragon Cycle in a new edition with new covers sometime in the next year”.

The Pendragon Cycle By Stephen Lawhead

What does this mean for me? I’m not sure, really. Here I am writing a series of books based on the King Arthur myths, and one of my inspirations is being re-released probably around the time that my first book will be sent to literary agents! This probably makes it much harder for an agent to seriously consider my work at this time.

However … there is the flip side that the added publicity could make it easier. Obviously this topic sells. Obviously there is public interest. Obviously there will be some buzz. “Hey, have you read Lawhead? Robert Treskillard has a book on King Arthur too…”

This also raises the question … why am I even doing this? Why would I write a Christian series of novels based on the myths of King Arthur when a Christian has already done so? Here are my reasons, like them or not:

  • Stephen Lawhead began his series 20 years ago! Is there room two decades later for a fresh voice? I should think so.
  • Has Stephen Lawhead exhausted these legends? Impossible! There is just too much material there. There are just too many legends. There is just too much creativity that can come from that fount! In fact, I would daresay that the imaginative writings that are inspired by the legends of King Arthur will probably never end until the Earth spins off of its axis.
  • The approach I am taking is fundamentally different than Lawhead. For just one example, although I too strive for authenticity in my work, I am not making Merlin a magician. He is/becomes a prophet and a bard. Now Lawhead does this, but he gives bards magical powers, and Merlin is immortal. My Merlin does not use magic or anything like it. He is human, he fights, he speaks out, and he prays. God helps, although sometimes inscrutably and allowing suffering.

    This does not mean that “magic” does not exist in my world, or that my world is any less “fantastic”. The enemies of God use what would appear to be “magic”. They have “fantastic” powers that come from the spiritual sources of darkness and evil. The battles I am depicting will be cosmic and epic. God sends Merlin visions that speak truth and warn him about many things (this also frees me up to be a little more creative).

    But all this is to say that my work will hopefully be more palatable to the Christian reader. Lawhead has done an amazing job being a cross-over author, and I GREATLY admire him and his work (I own most of his books!)—but he sometimes crosses the line into what I would consider new age. I am aiming more strictly for the Christian market yet I strive to still provide an excellent read.

    (Footnote: After writing this post I came across an October 2007 interview with Stephen Lawhead regarding these very issues. See my post here for clarifications to what I wrote in this post.)

Bottom line—I am hoping that out there somewhere in the universe of publishing that an agent and a publisher exist that will look seriously at my work and not dismiss it simply because of its topic.

But I need to be up to the challenge in order for that to happen. I really need to learn the craft of writing. If I don’t present a book that is well written, then I expect it to be rejected.

I really am hopeful that this topic can sell. One author, now forgotten by me, put it this way:

There are more fans of King Arthur in California alone than in all of Great Britain.

How can this be? Because his popularity is everywhere.

My thesis (that my books live or die by):

If I write well and have a unique, exciting story and voice, it will sell.

Even if the field is crowded.