I have mentioned here a few times an endeavor that started as a seeming realistic desire and has now become something real that I am both incredibly proud and incredibly humbled to have had the privilege to spearhead. In addition to all the writing that academics are required to do for our professions, many of us write fiction. We do so for a wide array of reasons. Sometimes we just have stories that take shape in our minds and that we want to tell. Sometimes we craft philosophical thought experiments. Sometimes we speculate about the future or the past and ask, “What if…?” Sometimes we write things that are too long or have too specific a focus to fit well in most magazines and literary journals, yet which are no less worthy of being shared with a wider audience for that reason.
When I first had the idea to create a place that would publish works by academics outside of the field of creative writing (for whom writing novels and short stories is their professional activity), I wondered if it would be of interest to more than a select few. I soon discovered that it was of great interest to many. So many of us academics write fiction, and few of us talk about the fact that we do so, at least not in professional contexts. On the other hand, there is a burgeoning area of publishing in the releasing of a number of novels that seek to explore subjects like biblical studies through the writing of historical fiction, including quite a few penned by academics in the field. In addition to everything else, writing fiction can be a way to convey historical information to a wider audience. It can also be a way to test our historical reconstructions and hypotheses. I do this in my forthcoming book, What Jesus Learned from Women. Each chapter contains an exploration of a female perspective on an encounter of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels.
Today, I am happy to be able to highlight the publication of the first volume of AcademFic, a journal dedicated to publishing fiction written by academics who are not required to write fiction as part of their professional activity. The volume includes stories of lengths ranging from flash fiction to novelette, and in genres including contemporary drama, horror, speculative fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction/alternative history. There are stories by professors in a number of different fields.
You can go directly to the current issue of AcademFic via this link. There is also an AcademFic Facebook page which I encourage you to like and follow.
We have ordered the stories in size order, inspired by a book series that has this as its guiding principle, called The Binge-Watching Cure. When we think of picking up a novel, it would be easy to be daunted by the length and switch on the TV instead. Luring you in with something that is just a page, then a few pages, and so on might help you get back to reading.
My contribution to the volume is a story that was sparked by a comment on this blog, which led not only to the story being written but to the development of the periodical itself. A commenter asked if anyone had suggested the magi might be historical, but Parthian spies sent to stir up trouble in Herod’s kingdom. I said I don’t think so, but that would be a great story. So I wrote it, and talking with the commenter it turned out that he was an academic, a biologist, who has also published some science fiction short stories. And so not just the story but also the recognition that there are many academics who write fiction when it is not a job requirement, was influenced by a conversation here. So it seems I should emphasize that you should share your questions and story ideas if you have any. They might inspire something! And of course if you are an academic you should submit something for consideration for publication in AcademFic.
I was eager to get this first volume launched before Christmas so that that could be my Christmas gift to the contributors, since professors and all educators experienced an extremely challenging year. I also wanted that to happen so that their stories can be a gift to you. I’ve been so impressed as I’ve read them, and have been eagerly looking forward to sharing the stories with others.