As you may be aware, because I’m certainly not hiding the fact, I am a Mormon (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). It’s kind of interesting to note how many Mormon professionals there are in fantasy and children’s/YA lit. I get past counting on both hands (especially when including editors), and while that might not seem as much compared to the various other religious and/or nonreligious groups a professional in this industry may claim, it’s always an interesting subject for Mormons to talk about. 😀
I’ve been asked to write an essay for a Mormon publication, Dialogue, on Mormon writers of mainstream YA and children’s literature. While I’m working on that, I thought I’d throw the topic out there, both to my readers who I know for a fact are LDS, and to anyone else who might be interested in the subject. What YA and children’s fantasy writers out there are LDS? Does knowing they’re LDS affect how you perceive the book? Did you learn they were LDS before or after reading, and did that change your percep tion of the book?
Let’s contrast this to a notorious example, and a timely one at that. You’ve all probably heard of the emails going round some parts about boycotting the movies based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.* Would you go to see the movie? Do you believe that it should be avoided? If so, why? If not, what do you like about Pullman’s work? What influence, if any, does his background have on your reading?
Some LDS authors off the top of my head:
Orson Scott Card (included for the recognizability factor, but not really included in my essay because the book of his most considered YA material, Ender’s Game, was published so long ago–though funny enough, made some great predictions–my favority being the notoriety of internet fame)
Stephenie Meyer (Twilight, etc.)
Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, Goose Girl)
Brandon Mull (Fablehaven)
Brandon Sanderson (Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is his only children’s title right now, mostly adult books)
Rebecca Shelley (Red Dragon Codex, which I edited and is coming out in Jan.)
Dan Willis (several Dragonlance: The New Adventures titles)
Dave Wolverton/David Farland
James Dashner (new series coming out from Shadow Mountain, 13th Reality, and the Jimmy Fincher Saga)
Mette Ivie Harrison (The Princess and the Hound; Mira, Mirror and several other excellent titles)
Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers)
And a few, though less current, realism authors, all YA:
McNeal/McNeal (forget their first names, but they wrote one book, white, with a little Kewpie devil on the front for which the name is escaping me, too)
(Of course I won’t be covering *all* those because this will be a short essay!)
Who am I missing?
*Full disclosure: I think Pullman’s writing is beautiful. While I didn’t necessarily agree with the conclusion of the series (as a member of a slightly unorthodox religious group that in a way rebelled/withdrew/rejected the teachings of the organized church of its day, I’m in a strange position of agreeing with him and disagreeing at the same time), I did think that HDM was beautifully written and a well-crafted fantasy story. And so what if I don’t agree with him? I think that there’s room for all of us to read each others’ perspectives and learn from them, and that freedom to do so brings to our world beauty and understanding of both our differences and similarities.
In all the correspondence I’ve seen from Pullman himself on children’s lit listservs, he’s always been respectful, articulate, and a knowledgeable advocate for children in education. And he’s got one of the best first lines of all time, too. I’ve got the Sally Lockhart mysteries lying on my bedside table begging for me to finally getting around to reading them.
So I certainly don’t advocate boycotting the movies. On the contrary, I think they look gorgeous from what I’ve seen so far and I’m interested in seeing how the books are adapted to film.