Sunday, August 31, 2008
This blog entry isn't about dieting and exercise at all. Regardless, I would love any input on this topic. Thank you.
I blog little, and I rant less. In general, I prefer to live by a "what they do is their business and I don't have time for that" kind of attitude. However, my mind has been ranting all day and now my fingers are translating it all into text.
Though I haven't yet read Stephanie Meyer's books, I have taken a recent interest in her career because 1) she's a female author 2) she's a fantasy fiction author 3) she's LDS. I completely intend to read her work, especially after speaking with at least four friends who are fans of hers and who attest to her skill. However, today while working out with one of my best friends, who is also LDS, we discussed books that she could read with her 12-year-old daughter. I mentioned the recent buzz about Stephanie Meyer, and how I had recently heard that she was LDS and puts moral principles in her book. My friend replied (to the LDS reference,) "Yeah, there's a big controversy about that."
*ahem* Excuse me?
This is not the first time this dilemma has caught my attention. As an LDS writer who is trying to finish a set of fantasy fiction novels for publication, I have wondered whether or not to pick a nome de plume for my work. Read on for my justification.
This is a quote by Stephanie Meyer from a website called A Motley Vision: "Some Mormons, especially those who know me, are surprised by my choice of topics. “Vampires?” they say, with a critical lilt to their voices. Then they add self-righteously, “I don’t read those kinds of books.” (Not all Mormons say that, some are really enthusiastic). I hasten to explain to them that it’s not like that. Unconsciously, I put a lot of my basic beliefs into the story. Free agency is a big theme, as is sacrifice. One very kind fan wrote to me and said, “instead of gore and horror there was lyrical beauty.” (Okay, so she was probably too kind). Even after I explain all that, I still have LDS friends (and extended family) who look at me funny."
Tracy Hickman dealt with the same thing. As co-author beside Margaret Weis of the Dragonlance series, Hickman developed a world called Krynn that is very similar to Tolkien's world, with many of the same mythological peoples. One facet of the world is that it is ruled by multiple gods, and these warring gods play a crucial part in the Dragonlance saga. Of course, as Hickman proudly proclaims his LDS faith, he was criticized for writing about polytheistic fantasy worlds. He defends his work here: http://www.trhickman.com/Spiri
Basically, the short justification is thus: It's fantasy. Make a distinction and either read the book or leave it on the shelf.
Orson Scott Card writes both science fiction works and pieces for the Church, his most popular work being a sci-fi story called "Ender's Game." He is very renowned for his writing, and the book he wrote on characters and viewpoint for Writer's Digest Books is my favorite and most influential piece on writing instruction yet. How much criticism has he undergone for writing about fantastic worlds and situations?
So why am I considering a pen name for my work?
I'm not at all ashamed of my work, and I love putting real situations and real characters into my stories. But if Stephanie Meyer comes under fire for writing about VAMPIRES (*gasp*) but does not put sex into her books, I feel I will be ostracized by not only some members in my ward but also certain members of the LDS community for the elements I put into my fiction. Do I care about what others think about me as a person based on my work? No, I already deal with a bit of ostracism for being a bit more eccentric than the mainstream cultural Mormon. But if people read Meyer/Hickman/Card and expect them to produce work of the same genre as Gerald Lund just because they are LDS, they are living in a separate kind of fantasy world. Because an author claims a strong LDS faith, are they disallowed an imagination, of adding specific imagery to their work, and basically thinking outside the box? How long will it be before I get an message in my Hotmail box urging me to ban the Twilight Series because it supports those fantastical elements, in the tradition of Harry Potter and The Golden Compass?
Several LDS friends have read my work, and I have always warned them, "It's PG-13," especially when some have suggested that I submit my work to LDS publishers. I know the LDS publisher's wont accept my work. I don't write sex scenes. There is violence (it's fantasy fiction!) but it's not graphic. And every bad decision and every antihero is rivaled by the consequences of those decisions. Let's see... in Heroes of Edurne, Eian is a duty-bound man who abstains from sexual encounters because he's unwed and isn't the kind of man who will leave bastard children along the countryside. But his best friend, Lucian, is not only openly gay but is the man who swoops in and provides Eian the aid he needs when Eian's own brother betrays the entire town. In the sequil, Werian Legacy, Aillhea is an impetuous girl who makes the decision to lie to the hero, Aeric, and engages in premarital sex because of some misguided ideals about love. When she gets pregnant and has to deal with the fact that Aeric's brother has a psychotic obsession about family, she realizes that her actions marked both her and her unborn child for death. The sex is not detailed... it happens between chapters, and there is no description of actions. As for the protagonists, even the antiheroes have valiant intentions and try to act for the greater good. I love my religion and I won't ever deny it. I know that my friends and fans will love my work and either not care what religion I am or will support my faith. But do I really want the critics to read my work and judge the Church, and maybe even say that I advocate homosexuality and premarital sex when I'm instead trying to portray that everybody has something to offer and that people can recover from their bad decisions?
This is the kind of blog that I'm not writing for my own personal catharsis. I would like responses. Advocate, disagree, whatever. Let's get a discussion going. How do you feel about this subject?