Wednesday, July 15, 2009


CRYSTAL WINS! Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to tell me which book you would like and to give me your mailing address.


When I switched from journalism to writing fiction, I never even considered writing for the LDS market until a chance meeting with Darla Isaaksan, the new editor at Covenant, brought about a suggestion that I submit a manuscript I was concerned about to her. It had already been accepted by a New York publisher, but I was uncomfortable with the changes the editor there wanted me to make. In three weeks Darla accepted my manuscript and offered me a far better deal than the national publisher had.

Occasionally I’m asked why I didn’t submit to an LDS publisher first. There were two reasons. First I hadn’t read many LDS novels and hadn’t been impressed with the few I had read. And second there just weren’t many LDS novels being published at that time and the audience for such books was reportedly so small it was almost nonexistent. With my acceptance of a contract with Covenant, I looked around to see who else was writing LDS novels, aimed at the LDS market. I was already aware of Jack Weyland and Susan Evans McCloud, two of the better writers at that time, but both seemed better at short stories than full length novels and their books were aimed at a younger audience than I envisioned reading my work. I read Dean Hughes and Chris Heimerdinger, but again their books were for young readers. Hughes was already known as an excellent national Childrens author. Then I discovered a couple of stand alone books by Gerald Lund. Here was an author who set out to entertain LDS adults.

Soon Lund began his The Work and the Glory Series, Dean Hughes proved he could write engaging adult fiction with Children of the Promise, and Heimerdinger’s Tennis Shoes’ characters matured. Dozens of other LDS fiction writers’ names became familiar and soon almost all LDS fiction readers could choose from a wide array of excellent writers and titles. My first forays into the world of book signings paired me with Chris Heimerdinger or Gerald Lund. I learned a great deal from these two gentleman. Strangely I didn’t even meet Dean Hughes until we were both awarded the 2007 Whitney Lifetime Achievement awards together.

This is the month we honor pioneers so I’m offering books by these fiction pioneers for prizes for the rest of July. Eddie Fantastic was Heimerdinger’s first book with Covenant. In 2008 it was reissued with a great new cover, corrections, and in some cases plot improvements. It could probably lay claim to being the first LDS science fiction novel. After Dean Hughes finished his mega selling series, Children of the Promise and Hearts of the Children, there was a bit of unfinished business as far as his readers were concerned. He promised to someday finish Diane’s Story. He did that with Promises to Keep. Gerald Lund’s The Work and the Glory series revolutionized LDS fiction. The quality of writing has often been criticized, but even critics agree that the series did more than any dry historical account to acquaint our present generation with the events surrounding the Church in those early years. The Steeds became real to millions of people and quotes from the book became part of the popular vernacular of Church members. I have duplicate copies of volumes 5, 6, and 7 and the winner may choose one of those, Eddie Fantastic, or Promises to Keep.

And just in case the winner already has all of these well-known books or would simply like something else, you can choose the book by Linda Higham Thomson based on the musical Saturday’s Warrior, which was a landmark pioneer in LDS stage productions or my own debut novel, Run Away Home.

To be eligible for one of these prizes leave a comment in the comment trail of this blog expressing your views of early LDS fiction, of how you think it has progressed, and share the direction you’d like to see future books take in this market. The contest closes at noon July 31.


Britt said...

I loved Eddie Fantastic! And I've really enjoyed following the Tennis Shoes books (which need to be FINISHED PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!)

I've read all the Work and the Glory books at least 2-3 times!

I think the trap that LDS writing falls into sometimes is the "how much can a character be put through and still have faith" plot. LDS fiction will be stronger if we can move away from that a little. But overall I think LDS authors are getting more diverse, which is great.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

I really love your blog and your articles. I also think Britt's comments are important to consider. I'm glad she shared her thoughts.

Jennie said...

As LDS writers we seem to have a tendency to beat a good plot device or twist to death as with the one Britt mentioned. For awhile it was convert everybody. What's next?

Britt said...

Maybe next we'll be converting vampires. ;)

They're all the rage, right?

Mindi said...

I have been reading LDS fiction ever since it was just Jack Weyland and it has definitely gotten better - especially since the girl-mets-boy-fall in love- baptize the boys trend is over! I think Josi Kilpack handles real-life issues well, for the most part and I LOVE her new series! I am looking forward to what comes next!

Janice said...

I enjoyed Tennis Shoes as a kid but I haven't kept up with the series. It seems that the LDS market backed away from the Science Fiction market. I really loved Stephanie Black's Believer and there was another science fiction time travel book that came out around the same time but I don't remember the title. I would like to see more like this (especially the sequel to the Believer). I would like to see more science fiction/fantasy within the LDS genre - or just with LDS characters. Orson Scott Card did it! I know a lot of people thumb their nose at this genre, but there are a lot of people who like it. I don't read a lot of LDS books because they aren't in my preferred genre. Although I make an exception for Kerry Blair and Robinson Wells.

lachish said...

I think Chris Heimerdinger was the third LDS Author that I really came to admire. He is a true pioneer of the art, and has inspired many young people to be excited about the scriptures.

But my first (and second) favorite LDS Authors from the early days are the Yorgason brothers, Blaine and Brenton. Their movie "Windwalker", and the book "Seeker of the Gentle Heart", were both works that inspired me greatly. I don't hear them talked about much anymore. Has anyone here read those books?

Jennie said...

Yes, I would certainly consider the Yorgasons pioneers in LDS fiction too.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

I loved the Yorgasons, Gerald Lund, and Susan Evans McCloud. I've been reading LDS fiction a long time and I think it's seen a steady improvement in offerings and multiplying of genres. One of my favorite series, though, is the Run Away Home series and sadly, my copies have been read so many times they've fallen apart. I would LOVE to have another copy, so even if I don't win, can I buy one? Pretty please? :)

Jennie said...

Julie, sadly I only have extra copies of Run Away Home. I have a personal copy of Journey Home and Coming Home each, but none I can sell or give away. If you or anyone else wants a copy of Run Away Home, send me a check for ten dollars and your address.

Reesa said...

There is so much that I love about LDS fiction. I love that you don't have to stick with a certain genre to find something worth while to read.

One of the things that I have noticed is that even if you have a fantastic story line, if you don't have good character development the book just falls apart. Have you ever had the feeling when you read someone's books that you have read the same book before . . . and not just once, but over and over again?