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Archive for January, 2015

Please check out my teaser page for Time’s Plague!

http://www.unwillingchild.com/times_plague.html

The cover art is just a placeholder I put together, but I think it looks cool.

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Sunday, Michael Moore–the hit-and-run “documentarian” who has the freedom to spew whatever garbage he likes only because of the courage, blood, and sacrifice of American soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and coast guard–called Chris Kyle a coward.  I wonder if Mr. Moore would have the courage to look Taya Kyle, Chris’s widow, in the eye and repeat that to her face?

I’ll let Mr. Moore’s cowardice speak for itself.

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“How are you?”  Such an innocuous and innocent question.

And one so fraught with peril.

I have learned that, in many cases, this is a question that should not be answered truthfully.  It is a question that is the equivalent of saying, “Howdy!”  (Actually, “Howdy,” is short for “How do you do?”)  And although once upon a time in a bygone age of civility, this might have been meant as a sincere inquiry after one’s health and well-being, it has evolved into a polite nothing.  It is not meant to be answered truthfully.  You are expected to say, “I’m doing great!  How ’bout yourself?”—or something to that effect, regardless of the many cares and problems that we all have to bear.  It’s not meant as a conversation starter; it’s just a greeting to be said with a smile and a nod, and without even a passing thought.

So last spring, as I was walking through the tunnels under Temple Square on my way to the dress rehearsal for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s concert of “The Messiah”, I found myself walking next to a soprano whom I did not know.  She was a pleasant, sweet-looking lady, much shorter than myself, with white hair and a bright smile.  Although I had seen her many times from across the choir loft, I had never spoken to her.  So when she asked, “How are you?” I should have been smart enough to engage in nothing more than the pat, meaningless exchange.

But no, not on that day.  On that day, I decided to be an idiot.  I decided to answer truthfully.

“I’m tired and sore,” I said, “but I’m glad to be here.  How are you?”

Her face took on a look of genuine concern.  “Why are you tired and sore?”

I laughed softly.  “I’ve been on my feet all day at Comic Con, selling my books.”

“Your books?  You write books?”

“Yep.”

“What kind of books do you write?”

“LDS horror.”  I reached into my breast pocket and pulled out a bookmark for The Children of Lilith.

As I extended my hand to her, offering the bookmark, her eyes widened in horror (horror at the very thought of LDS horror), and she raised her hands defensively as if to ward off a blow.  (One might say, she crossed her forearms as if to form a crucifix to ward off a literary vampire.)  “LDS horror?” she cried.  “Why would you do such a thing?”

I smiled.  “It’s not what you think.  You can have the bookmark.”

She waved her hands emphatically.  “I don’t want it!  I wouldn’t touch it.  Why on earth would you do such a thing?” she reiterated.

I cocked my head, replaced the bookmark in my pocket, and gave her a wry smile.  “I’m guessing you’ll never be a fan.”

And that was the end of our conversation.  We continued down the tunnel in silence.  She walked faster, increasing the distance between us.

So, why would I do such a thing?  Why LDS horror?  Why LDS science-fiction?  Why fictional stories at all, especially where matters of faith are concerned?

It’s a fair question, actually.  I have a friend who writes great non-fiction books dealing with the scriptures, dealing with matters of faith.  As a matter of fact, so have I.  I have written a non-fiction manuscript which I hope to have published, dealing with a matter of scripture and faith.  But I also write faith-related fiction.  Specifically, LDS horror and sci-fi.

Why?  (I mean, why, beyond the desire to simply tell a good story?)

Years ago, I was listening to a talk in church.  The speaker began telling a story about a little boy who agreed to a blood transfusion to save his little sister.  He gave his blood, in spite of the fact that he believed he would die as a result.  He thought he was sacrificing his life for his sister.  It’s a great story, and I’ve heard it many times.  It always brings a tear to my eye.

But as soon as I recognized the story, I smiled, got a bit misty-eyed, and settled back in the pew, only half-listening.  I knew the story, so perhaps the impact of hearing it for the umpteenth time was lessened somewhat.  I was ready for the speaker to get on to the next point.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is a great speaker, one of my favorites.  I love listening to him.  And one of the reasons he is so effective is that he tells stories I have not heard before.

But his stories are all true.  They describe actual events and actual people.  So why not stick to factual, true stories?  Why fiction?

It’s quite simple, really.  Fiction is another name for a parable.  Jesus, the Greatest of all Teachers, taught in parables.  And parables are fictional stories.

I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to anyone and doesn’t shake any testimonies, but “The Good Samaritan” is fiction.  Jesus made it up.  It never happened, at least not exactly that way.  But in another sense—a very important sense—it has happened many, many times.  So has “The Prodigal Son”.  Jesus told stories to illustrate a point.

And these stories have become archetypical, part of our consciousness, our culture.  They say, “Be kind.  Be loving.  Don’t judge.  Be penitent.  Forgive.”  And they say it in a way that we remember.

So, why LDS horror?  Why LDS sci-fi?  Why LDS fiction at all?  Because I (and other authors like me) want to tell good stories—stories that move people to honest tears, stories that people will remember, because they are different, because they are honest, and because, in spite of being fiction, they are also true.  If the imagery or setting is fantastic or horrifying, it is imagery or a setting that is (hopefully) memorable.  But the imagery and setting don’t change the truthfulness of the story (or perhaps the underlying message).

In my stories, the heroes must have my values.  They must be motivated by the things that motivate me.  After all, the heroes come out of my head and my experience.  They are extensions of myself or of people whom I know and admire.  (What about the villains?  Well, I HOPE they are extensions of my experience and NOT projections of my deepest, darkest, vilest thoughts.  But that’s a subject for another time…)

I write LDS horror, because I love stories about selfless courage, especially courage in the face of true evil or great peril.  Like the story about the little boy who believes he is giving his life for his little sister…

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