Monday, July 09, 2007

Fantasy Tour--Sharon Hinck

These past few days we have been talking about the upcoming East Coast tour for Four Fantasy Authors.They're meeting at the International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, and--once the show is done--heading north from there.

The show itself is very important to these authors as well, and not just as a jumping off point for their own tour. At the show they will have opportunities to talk with many of the business people in the industry right down to the buyers from most of the larger Christian retail chains as well as an assortment of independents. Prayer for these meetings would be a good thing. Here's hoping--and praying--that these fantasy authors will well represent our genre and encourage many of the buyers to see where fantasy sales can take off to in their local stores.

Sharon Hinck has been in Atlanta for a few days already, teaching at a retreat. I guess she's met all her tour-mates by now. I hope they're hitting it off really well because they'll be spending a lot of time together over the next couple weeks or so!

I've talked about Sharon on this blog on several occasions, most recently--in June--when I'd read her debut fantasy novel, The Restorer. When I got home from my Yellowstone vacation and read what my CSFF tour-mates had to say about the book, I discovered mixed opinions (to my absolute shock!) Upon closer examination, I realized that Sharon had done such a good job of tailoring to her target audience that other folks just weren't *getting it*. As I see it, that's not all bad.

As writers, we'd like to think that everybody in the whole world will love everything we write. That it doesn't matter what gender, age, nationality, creed--you name it--our thoughts and imaginings are so fabulous that they will appeal to everyone. 'Tain't so. What Sharon has done, more than a lot of writers, has been to identify her target audience and write to them. And her audience is North American women. The CBA once announced (can't remember where) that most of the folks who buy books in Christian bookstores are white women of middlish years that tend to be conservative Christians. They also generally buy *women's fiction* and romances. They are usually buying for themselves, not the men or kids in their life.

Sharon looked at that demographic and decided to target a fantasy to those women. And so she wrote a novel (a trilogy, actually) about a Christian soccer mom--a middle-class, married, mother of four--who is struggling with depression. Susan Mitchell gets sucked into an alternate dimension and faces her difficulties there.

Am I surprised that many of the men on the book tour didn't get this book? Not once I stopped to think about it. It resonated deeply with nearly every woman who read it, but very few men. I've come to think that might be a more positive thing than a negative. And I think in many ways, Sharon's target audience for The Restorer is the same as my target audience for Marks of Repentance, the fantasy novel I am currently revising. I think I'll have to ask Sharon for a cover blurb when (if!) my novel is ever published.

Sharon shared on her blog over the weekend that she has come down with a very sore throat. That doesn't sound (pardon the pun) like the best way to start a tour designed to put her and the other authors in the public spotlight. Please pray that she regains her voice, and with it, her strength and verve.

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