"You take a chance on me? Okay, I'll take a chance on you too."
That's essentially what The Crossover Alliance and I said to each other back in 2016 when I signed the contract for The Crossover Alliance to publish my superhero novella WITHOUT A VISION. The Crossover Alliance was still a new publisher in a growing niche in publishing. Up until then, I had published only indie. We were both taking chances on each other.
But we were both passionate about the same vision. And that made it worth the risk.
What is the vision?
When iconic writers like C. S. Lewis published, there was no dividing line between "Christian fiction" and "secular fiction." There was just "fiction." If you had a fantasy or science fiction story, you found a publisher willing to publish and you delighted your audience.
Something happened between then and the present age, and an entire genre of "Christian fiction" sprang up, which created a lot of rules. No swearing. No sex. No intense violence. Bonus points for some kind of formulaic conversion story. And while much of this was well-intentioned as a reaction against a market increasingly awash in vague morals, gratuitous violence, casual sex, and the increasingly popular antihero, it created a problem for the reader.
You could choose a bland, cookie-cutter, idealistic story under the Christian label in order to play it safe or you could choose a secular story and take a risk of finding content that compromised your conscience.
While my ideas since 2013 have developed a bit, the idea behind my blog post "Why Christian Fiction Doesn't Work" still holds true: "Can't we just tell a story true to the rawness of life and let the Christian worldview come through naturally?"
I thought I was one of few.
I found out I wasn't.
(An old video, but still fun!)
The vision of The Crossover Alliance
I discovered The Crossover Alliance a few years ago and instantly felt a connection with their mission statement:
The Crossover Alliance began as an online community where a group of authors saw a vacuum in the Christian publishing industry - a complete lack of stories that contained Christ-centered themes with real-world content. A need was discovered, a gaping maw where secular and Christian publishers dare not tread for fear of crossing the boundary lines between secular and Christian fiction. The Crossover Alliance publishing company was birthed to cross this line, and we aim to disrupt the publishing industry with our unique mission.
While the website goes on to explain what "breaking the rules" means ("We don't try to be edgy just to be edgy"), the books themselves--including my WITHOUT A VISION--demonstrate the type of across-the-borders storytelling that readers, both Christian and secular, need.
We need compelling stories filled with complex themes. We need the rawness of real life tempered with the promise of redemption. We need real struggles of conscience, with heroes whose integrity we can emulate but whose humanity we can identify with.
My reading of the TCA Anthology: Volume 1 and The Tears of Nero by Jason Brannon told me that this was the kind of publishing company whose vision I could support. So when I was offered a contract for WITHOUT A VISION, I was pleased to become part of a growing community of authors associated with The Crossover Alliance, authors who were redefining "Christian fiction" for a new generation of readers.
This month, The Crossover Alliance turns three years old. Shout out to the team and all the authors who made this dream possible in the last three years! Read all about it in their blog post here and don't forget to check out their books.