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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Supernatural Fiction — The Next Big Wave?

Allen Arnold loves great stories, passionate conversations and authentic living. As Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson, he spends his days acquiring, reading and publishing world-class adult and young adult fiction written from a Christian worldview. Allen’s favorite way to spend the day is with his family – preferably with a C.S. Lewis book or Superman comic close at hand.

Retailers and the media regularly ask what the next hot trend will be in Christian Fiction.

Is supernatural fiction the next big wave? Fair question.

One of the most important skills a Publisher has is the ability to anticipate trends in the marketplace. No one bats 1,000 on this front. At the same time, no Publisher survives long if they have more misses than hits in this essential area.

In my recent post “What do Christian Fiction Fans Want to Read Next”, I focused on our research and ways to deliver fresh content rather than rear-view mirror publishing. More the “how” than the “what’s next”.
Now let’s focus on a type of novel that I believe is gaining heat – and will only gain more in the coming years. Supernatural Fiction.
True – this may not be an “official” genre, but I believe it’s an apt descriptor for many future best-selling novels. In recent Focus Groups and in-depth research, we continue to hear buzz about this desire from the most passionate Christian Fiction fans. In fact, there’s currently more buzz than best-sellers in this area…but not for long!
Within Christian Fiction, I describe Supernatural as stories that delve into the thin places between the seen and the unseen. Where the natural is intruded upon by “super” natural forces that often include angels and demons. There can be prophecies, visions and dreams. 

The challenges are more vertical than horizontal (between humans). The territory is more unknown and mysterious, yet never counter to biblical truth. In the past few decades, Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness is probably the best example of the type of novel I’m referring to.
Hmmm. So if this will be a growing trend in the coming years, should you write Supernatural stories if that isn’t what you are personally drawn to as an author?
No way. That would be chasing a trend rather than writing what’s authentic to you. Avoid that temptation.
But Thomas Nelson Fiction is drawn to these stories. We don’t want to ride this wave or trend. As one of the world’s largest publishing houses, we aim to fuel this coming wave. We’ve already released several  major Supernatural novels in the past few months (Waking Hours by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson, The Baker’s Wife by Erin HealyThe Promise of an Angel by Ruth Reid) and many others – including Young Adult titles – will ship in the coming year.

 At the same time, we’ll continue to publish a rich mix of Contemporary Romance, Amish, Legal Thrillers, Sci-fi / Fantasy, Young Adult, Suspense, Historical, Mystery, Movie Novelizations and Biblical Fiction. We love having such a diverse roster that satisfies such a wide reading audience.
In future posts, I’ll share additional trends and findings from our in-depth Christian Fiction research.


  1. Thanks for letting us in on that. Glad to see that publishers are getting in tune with what the readers have been interested in for some time (and not just since Twilight came out!). Hoping to see more well-written, Biblically sound books published this genre.

  2. I love the term "rearview" publishing. That's exactly what I've thought for years. We like to be following trends when we should be setting them.

    Funny on the supernatural genre. When I started on this writing path, that's what I wrote and it was on it's way out. I'm now writing women's fiction. I like that genres cycle, though that was a long pause for supernatural.

    Peretti's a genius and the funniest/most talented person I've met (well via phone at any rate). He did almost his entire interview in character. Absolutely a delightful guy. Cannot wait to read his latest!

  3. Thanks for the post. I am thrilled at the possibilities in Christian supernatural genre especially since I am ready to walk the publishing path. Your description of the genre sums up my book nicely. This post is an encouragement to me to push harder than ever to complete my query letters. Again, thank you. I know God has a plan.


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