I had the opportunity to interview Steve Laube, owner and publisher of Enclave Publishing. The quote on Envlave’s site sums it up nicely. “All of the novels we publish are in some real sense Christian. They may not spell out the plan of salvation or show someone coming to Christ, but the Christian component will be there, and it will be real.” Steve was nice enough to respond to my questions and share insights about his unique publishing company.
Q1. How has the transition from Marcher Lord Press into Enclave publishing progressed? Are you on track to where you want to take the company? Where would you like to see Enclave Publishing in the next three years? Are there specific goals that you would like to share?
It has been 16 months since I took over and we are on track. We rebranded the company and have released nine new books with four more coming in Summer and four more in Fall.
That is an aggressive program and is quite exciting. The future suggests that we will slowly but surely find many new readers of our unique books. By now, we have proven that we plan to be around for a long time.
Q2. With your extensive background in publishing and as head of the Steve Laube Agency, was is it that drives you with regard to Enclave Publishing? Is it book sales to an underserved market? Is it something more, perhaps a personal mission that fuels you? Where does evangelizing and bringing people to Christ fall on the Enclave priority meter?
I have always been a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Been reading the genre voraciously for the last 40+ years (starting with the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs when I was in high school).
Back in my days as a manager of a Christian bookstore, I was always disappointed by the limited offerings in that category. Then, when I acquired books for Bethany House, it took quite some time to convince management that there was potential in the genre. They agreed and Karen Hancock’s books, for example, are still with BHP and still selling.
I was glad when Jeff Gerke launched Marcher Lord Press in 2008 because I had been thinking about doing something similar. But you asked about a personal mission. I suppose you could say that is true. Those who know me, know that I’ve been an advocate of this type of book forever. In a small way, I helped raise the awareness of the genre in Christian publishing.
As for the “priority meter”? I believe it is incumbent upon every believer to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. But that same mission is not necessarily a corporate one. For example, the Greens who own Hobby Lobby are amazing Christian people, but no one would say that the Hobby Lobby stores are “evangelizing.” That would be a disconnect. But for Enclave Publishing our content is created by people with a Christian worldview. As such, their stories are informed by themes of redemption. You stated it well at the top of the interview quoting from our web site. “All of the novels we publish are in some real sense Christian. They may not spell out the plan of salvation or show someone coming to Christ, but the Christian component will be there, and it will be real.”
Q3. In the about section of the Enclave website it states, “Our stories can seem strange but underneath they contain powerful expressions of Redemption, Truth, and Hope.” How might these stories seem “strange,” how might they differ from typical Christian fiction titles?
That depends on your definition of “typical.” It is a myth that there are “typical” Christian books. It is far to easy to lump them all together and say they are all “sweet vapid romances devoid of realism.” That is usually a critique made by those who don’t like romance novels in the first place. When pressed such critics have to admit that Ted Dekker doesn’t fit that mold. But I have to add, neither does Don Brown, or Glen Meade, or Tosca Lee, or Ronie Kendig…and on and on. Don’t get me started….
How might our stories seem strange? KNIFE by R. J. Anderson is coming this Summer. The main characters are fairies. They live in a big tree. But they are dying off and their “warrior,” whose name is Knife, begins to explore the world beyond their small borders. It is a story of hope, sacrifice, and adventure.
Within the Science-Fiction and Fantasy genre those might be seen as “typical” and not “strange.” So it is the nature of the genre itself that suggests our unique approach to storytelling.
Q4. I realize the term “edgy” may mean different things to different people, but the term seems to connote that although a book is grounded in Christianity and supports Christian beliefs, it may contain violence, offensive language, sexual situations, or characters that may offend a conservative Christian. In your interpretation of the term, would you say there is an “edgy” component to some of the books published by Enclave?
Not as you have defined it. You will not find offensive language or sexual situations in our books. Those are two triggers where I will not compromise. That doesn’t mean there cannot be sensuality, as if sexual tension doesn’t exist. That would be foolish. But there is no place for lurid descriptions of anatomy or having the reader “see” or “hear” things that are best left to the privacy of the bedroom of a married couple. I’m well aware that there are those who would disagree with me and resent any boundaries. They are free to express their opinions and write their books. But it doesn’t mean I have to publish them.
I doubt anyone who reads our books will come away disappointed and say “I wish they had cursed more and ripped off their shirts.” Instead, I suspect they will be more apt to criticize either the story itself and whether it delivered on its promise to be a great read. Or they will love it and be glad they had read the book.
Q5. Enclaves books have varying degrees of a Christian component. Are all of Enclave’s readers Christians, or is there a secular component that enjoys these books as well? What percentage of readers would you say are non-Christians?
That is an impossible question to answer. We have no idea of the faith journey of our readers. We have been giving away a number of titles that are book one in a series. One even rose to #4 on Amazon’s general list for all fiction. That suggests that there could be a lot of potential readers who are not part of the Christian faith. I hope they read the books they download and enjoy the storylines.
Q6. Do you have a favorite Enclave novel? Why is it special to you?
That is a bit like asking a parent which child is their favorite. If I say anything I will delight some and disappoint others.
What I can say is that there are great books by some great writers. Some were acquired before I bought the company, some have joined under my management. I dare say we have books that can stand up to the market’s scrutiny in quality, storytelling, and delight.
Q7. What brick and mortar bookstores carry Enclave titles?
The top 100 Lifeway stores have our latest releases on their shelves. Other stores are discovering our books as well. Some may be ordering from their distributors so we do not know which stores they are, all we see is that sale made by a distributor (like Ingram).
Q8. As Enclave Publishing’s catalog continues to grow, along with the demand for Christian fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural stories, what advice would you give to an author looking to submit their work to Enclave for consideration?
It will sound cliched, but the truth is unchanged. Write the best book you possibly can. Learn the craft of great fiction. I hear or see so many amazing and creative story ideas, but the writer is unable to execute them with quality.
If you want to see the caliber of writers we acquire, buy our latest releases and read them. And if you don’t want to buy them at least look at the sample provided by the “look inside” feature online.
Q9. Is there anything that I haven’t asked, that you would like to share?
Our Summer books have just been announced and are available for pre-order. Look for Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma by Paul Regnier; Knife by R.J. Anderson; Crown of Fire (book three of the Firebird trilogy) by Kathy Tyers; and Deliverer (book four and final one in the Sword of Lyric series) by Sharon Hinck.
Many thanks to Steve Laube for taking the time to share the Enclave story and for bringing great Christian fiction novels to both Christian and non-Christian readers. For more information about Enclave Publishing and their available titles, visit their website http://www.enclavepublishing.com.