The Weekend Sun and Reads benefit in Aiken on Sept. 8 had a twofold purpose.
The Lost Genre Guild's book signing brought light to a different genre of Christian fiction and helped raise money for a local family.
Speculative fiction involves fantasy and science fiction, but with a Christian twist, according to Susan Hutto Kirkland. A former Aiken resident, Ms. Kirkland is a guild member and cousin of Brian Bernard, whose wife, Melissa, died in July of cancer.
"Christianity owns the trademark on fallen angels and demons. We can write about it with a positive message," said Ms. Kirkland, whose story Fair Balance is published in an anthology called Light at the Edge of Darkness.
Joining Ms. Kirkland, who lives in Dalton, Ga., were two other writers - Sue Dent, from Jackson, Miss., and Donna Sunblad, also from Dalton - and the editor of The Writers Caf Press, Cynthia MacKinnon, of Indiana.
"Susan asked me to come. I thought it was certainly a worthy cause," said Ms. Dent, whose book Never Ceese, a vampire/werewolf tale with a Christian perspective, was short-listed for a Bram Stoker Award. Stoker was the author of Dracula.
As the women signed books at the picnic shelter near H. Odell Weeks Activity Center, there were other events - a bake sale, a used-book sale and a gift-basket raffle - to raise money to pay Melissa Bernard's remaining medical bills. The 34-year-old was diagnosed with cancer in November.
Mr. Bernard, who has four children, was pleased so many people wanted to help his family.
"It's awesome what she's put together," he said of Ms. Kirkland's efforts. "They are giving of their time and talent."
Mr. Bernard said he has seen that type of generosity quite a bit over the past 10 months as many in the community have come to his family's aid.
Through the Lost Genre Guild, an Internet-based group of writers, there were many donations of books and other items for the gift baskets.
"Donations came from around the world," said Ms. Kirkland.
The speculative fiction books signed at the event are not available through larger publishing houses. For more information, visit www.thewriterscafepress.com.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.