At First I Ignored Genre. I have to admit that before I began work on Giving Voice to Dawn, I had never heard the term “visionary fiction”. As I’ve shared previously, I didn’t set out to write fiction at all when I sat down in 2015 and began scribbling away on an expository manuscript. However, before finishing even a single chapter, I tossed aside my collection of essays about trees and started tapping out a quirky spiritual story of finding life purpose. At that point, I wasn’t interested in researching genres, didn’t care about story conventions, and actively avoided reading the novels of others. I was hell-bent on telling my story the way I wanted to tell it.

Had I Written an Odd Fish of a Book? It was only when I was almost done with my first draft that I considered the importance of identifying a genre for my book. By that time, I was turning my attention at least partially to the mundane (I mean exciting!) details of publishing and had begun listening to how-to podcasts while framing up art for festivals. During a late night session of mat cutting and print mounting, I heard loud and clear through the tiny speaker on my cell phone that I did, in fact, need to classify my novel and should be carefully identifying a genre. And, from the sound of things, my story was an odd fish that wouldn’t fit neatly in any category. That, I was assured, would be a problem.

Of course not! It’s Visionary Fiction! Once I actually sat down to really research literary genres, however, I immediately came across a relatively new genre called “Visionary Fiction”. This category, which had only been around since the year 2000, seemed to include books like mine that were spiritual in nature but not religious, per se, and not prone to proselytizing. Scanning the list of characteristics of the genre, I found growth in consciousness suggested as the driving theme of the story with reincarnation, dreams, visions, paranormal events, and psychic abilities mentioned as devices to keep the action rolling. A tingle of recognition nearly knocked me to the floor. Or maybe I just thought to myself, “Okay, this looks right, I’m not screwed after all.” I honestly can’t remember, but my almost-complete story centered on a protagonist aching for personal growth who is driven forward on a spiritual quest by strange dreams, visions, ghostly encounters, messages from spirit guides, and buried memories of a traumatic past life. Clearly, I was about to make my contribution to the emerging Visionary Fiction genre.

The Visionary Fiction Alliance. Once I realized what I had written and realized I could now refer to my book as Visionary Fiction instead of “sort of fantasy, but not really”, I started looking around for my writing tribe. What I found were lots of genre-based writing and publishing groups that seemed to include everything but spiritual books with guides, ghosts, and reincarnation. A little more digging, however, revealed the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA), an organization that has grown from a seed planted in 2012 to become a gathering place of authors and a resource for readers.

The goals of the VFA, as shared on the alliance website, are to:

1. Increase awareness of the genre,

2. Help readers discover, explore, and enjoy Visionary Fiction,

3. Mentor new writers who wish to explore this genre,

4. Provide resources for writers of Visionary Fiction,

5. Be a place where readers can find Visionary Fiction books and engage in discussion with the authors.

The VFA, further, shares this definition of the genre:

“Visionary Fiction embraces spiritual and esoteric wisdom, often from ancient sources, and makes it relevant for our modern life. Gems of this spiritual wisdom are brought forth in story form so that readers can experience the wisdom from within themselves. Visionary fiction emphasizes the future and envisions humanity’s transition into evolved consciousness. While there is a strong theme, it in no way proselytizes or preaches.”

GV2D Finds Its Home. Giving Voice to Dawn definitely fits that bill. My story is deeply rooted in the esoteric and magical wisdom of ancient sources, particularly Celtic and American Indian traditions. Gems of wisdom pop forth from the story in all sorts of experiential ways that I hope will help my readers more clearly define their life purposes and find more happiness in life (which is how I define living an evolved life!). But there’s no preaching and no proselytizing, just gentle nudges and a few forceful shoves directed at the protagonist by her spirit guides.

What’s Next? If you haven’t yet read Giving Voice to Dawn, certainly take a moment to download at least the first 30 pages ( Click Here to Download Your Free Sample of "Giving Voice to Dawn" (692 downloads) ) so you’ll understand that donkey thing I keep chirping about. Or go all in and purchase yourself a copy. If you’ve already read my book, though, and are now aching to dive into more conscious raising fiction (or are inspired to write your own visionary story!), a trip on your donkey to the VFA website to check out their book list or author resources might be in order. Enjoy the ride and I’d love to see in the comments what new reads or advice you discover there.

Linda Gribko is an author, artist, and photographer living in Morgantown, West Virginia. She's known for her wildflower photography and the mandalas that she creates from her nature photos. Her quirky first novel, "Giving Voice to Dawn", was published in November 2016. It's the magical romp of a woman plucked by the Universe from the cubicles of Corporate America and dropped into the crease between "this world and that" where Spirit Animals carry messages, disembodied voices spout wisdom, and you never know who might show up to walk you back home.

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