AMV turned 10 this month so Scott Hales interviewed me for his blog Artistic Preaching. I appreciate the publicity, but am sad about the questions and answers that hit the cutting room floor. So I have decided to publish the outtakes from our interview*:
SH: What advice do you have for young Mormon writers?
WM: You know the advice to show don’t tell? Ignore it. Or rather, show physical details and action and all that rather than just tell it, but make sure that you tell the reader how they are supposed to feel about each of the characters and their actions. You really need to drive home the correct interpretation of the dramatic situation to the reader; otherwise, you risk being misinterpreted. And no Mormon writer should ever be misinterpreted.
And remember: the bad guys have facial hair. Always and without exception.
SH: Can Mormon artists write tragedy?
SH: What do you think about the use of Twitter by Mormons aka the Twitternacle?
WM: Twitter degrades discourse because it limits thoughts to 140 characters. We are a people whose main form of literature is the 20 minute talk. Our leaders used to preach for over an hour. We are going to lose our stamina for longer form work if we continue to indulge in the quick quips and shallow thoughts of tweets. If you are serious about creating Mormon art, you should definitely not engage with the Mormon arts people of the Twitternacle. Even if some people who are part of it are incredibly amusing and interesting.
SH: What issues do we not talk about enough as a community?
WM: Rated-R Movies. The Great Mormon Novel. The lack of an audience for Mormon literature. Why Mormon artists can’t write tragedy.
SH: Entertainment has the EGOT. Horse racing has the Triple Crown. Tennis has the Grand Slam. What’s the Mo-lit Grand Slam?
WM: There are so few awards that I think it’s hard to hinge it around them. I’m going to say that the Mo-lit Grand Slam is getting a lit-fic story published in Dialogue or Sunstone, an historical fiction novel acquired by Covenant, a YA novel acquired by a national publisher, and a short story collection acquired by Zarahemla Books all in the same year.
SH: What’s with all the Mormon Science Fiction & Fantasy writers?
WM: There’s the “Mormons have weird doctrine and like to discuss it and so are used to the speculative form” theory. There’s the “there’s actual money in SF&F” theory. There’s the “critical mass of core writers which then snowballs across the community” theory. My theory is that sleep deprivation because of early morning seminary and/or other church activities and/or having children at a young age and/or going on a mission permanently changes members brains so that we are always in the slightly hallucinatory state that leads to wildly speculative daydreaming which then gets channeled into writing SF&F.
SH: What’s with all the Mormon YA writers?
WM: Well, duh. It’s because Mormons live in an arrested state of development and refuse to face the gritty, difficult, complex issues of adult life and so, naturally, they tend towards YA and middle grade novels both as writers and readers. Also: it’s where the money is.
SH: What’s with all the Mormon lit-fic writers who go apostate?
WM: They aren’t apostate. They’re sleeper agents among the artistic Demi-monde. You would think that they would have been triggered by the Romney campaign, but I have it on good authority that they are being reserved for a different project. It may or may not involve Neon Trees, Jabari Parker and Elder Uchtdorf.
SH: What’s the greatest threat to Mormon letters?
WM: The possibility of the Brethren clarifying once and for all the policy on caffeine, thus banning Diet Coke. Production of Mormon fiction would grind to a halt within just three or four hours.
SH: What’s your next project?
WM: A tragic, YA historical novel featuring Mormon sleeper agents and bad guys with facial hair that’s written as a series of tweets.
*Scott didn’t actually ask me these questions.