EVERYTHING IN THIS POST IS A SPOILER more
EVERYTHING IN THIS POST IS A SPOILER more
I read at least one scary book per October. I think the best one I tried this time around was Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon. It fell apart a bit at the end, but I was on codeine at the time so my opinion is suspect.
I’ll let someone else defend horror today, but if you’re just now getting the jones for a scare, some successful Mormons in the field to check out include Michaelbrent Collings, Dan Wells, and Ben Hopkin.
Most importantly, as always, Monsters & Mormons. You can’t do better than that on Halloween.
NOTE: I posted an update on this project in November 2014. More news on it in late spring/early summer 2015.
Here’s the bad news: I don’t have the time and energy to do a second Monsters & Mormons anthology. I believe that there are a few people who will be disappointed by this. I know there’s at least one: me. I’m sorry. It’s just not going to happen.
Here’s the good news: I’ve been focused the past few years on writing fiction and criticism. See my author blog for a glimpse of what I’ve been working on. Most of that has not been Mormon-related. It’s great fun, and I’m continuing those activities, but I also am feeling the desire to edit again. I’m also concerned about the fact that with the shuttering of Irreantum there aren’t enough venues for Mormon short fiction. I’ve been saying for awhile now that what we need are more one-off projects that don’t require sustained effort — that that’s the best way to grow the body of Mormon short fiction because they don’t require the kind of long-term commitments and resources that most of us just can’t supply. Well, I suppose I should lead by example. So…
My vague thoughts: I’m thinking about editing an e-only short anthology of alternate Mormon history stories. I know for a fact that at least two of the entries in this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz are in the alternate history genre (one of them is mine). I’m guessing there might be more. It’s funny. I’ve been thinking about this for several months and even went so far as to toss some ideas around with Theric. And then Scott Hales recently posted Emily Adams review of D. J. Butler’s City of the Saints series, which is Mormon alt history steampunk. And, well, it just seems like it’s in the air. Indeed, it seems to me that in this post-Mormon moment moment alternate visions of Mormon history could be one of the more compelling ways of expressing our culture and help us think through both our past and future trajectories in interesting and fruitful ways.
Details and timing: I don’t know for sure yet. My best guess is that I’d put a call for entries out this fall with a deadline of early spring 2015 and a goal of having the anthology out in fall 2015. I would pony up the funds for token payments to the contributors. The anthology would likely be limited to 7-8 short short pieces, 3-4 short stories, and 1-2 novelettes with a goal of hitting 45-65k words (Monsters & Mormons is close to 180k). As with M&M, I’d be looking to range across the pulp and literary spectrums, but I’d also be shading a bit more towards the literary (where with M&M we shaded more towards pulp). And with the short short pieces, I’d be looking for a variety of forms of discourse including sermon, journal entry, reportage, personal letter, etc.
Feedback: If I decided to do this, who would be interested in submitting? Or reading? Reviewing? Am I wrong that Mormon alt history is swirling about the current Zeitgeist? What are the promises and pitfalls of Mormon alternate history?
Speak up in the comments below, or if you’d prefer not to be public with your thoughts, email me at william AT motleyvision DAWT org.
I’ll be in Salt lake City this weekend for Fan Experience. I’ll be giving an updated version of my Mormons and comics discussion from the first SLC Comic Con which will, among other changes, mention Nathan Shumate’s Cheap Caffeine, incorporate information from a couple AML presentations (James Goldberg on The Garden of Enid, Stephen Carter on Book of Mormon comics), and the Kickstarter campaigns for iPlates and From the Dust. Mike Homer will give his presentation on representations of Mormons and Utah in comics over time. (240 seats)
Fifteen minutes before that rerun, a panel of Monsters & Mormons participants will be publicly talking about their work and what’s become of it. I’m a bit confused over the final makeup of the panel (this story is personally embarrassing, but that’s a story for another day), but expect at least seven people you definitely want to hear from. (220 seats)
Then fifteen minutes after the comics rerun, I’ll be on a Sherlock Holmes panel which I really really hope has no Mormon tie-ins. (400 seats)
Based on the numbers here, I think I should be able to take 10.75 days off teaching and still reach the same number of people. Sweet.
It’s taking me a while to get through Monsters & Mormons, not because it’s not super enjoyable (because it is!), but because it’s a pretty long book (which, to me, is no flaw. The upcoming Saints on Stage: An Anthology For Mormon Drama which I edited for Zarahemla Books is a behemoth as well). Also when I finish a short story, I feel a temporary sense of completeness, so the book doesn’t always draw me back like a novel does because I’m not left “hanging” so to speak. So I’ve decided to break up my review of Monsters and Mormons over a few different reviews so I can write while the stories are still somewhat fresh in my mind. It will also allow me to address the short stories more individually instead of as a blurred whole.
First, my overall impression of Monsters & Mormons: it’s a winner. A big winner. As some one who has lived in imaginative waters since he was a child and hasn’t been afraid to invite his religion to play in those waters with him, I totally dig projects like this. Now, I’ve never been much of a horror fan, especially when it leads to copious amounts of blood and gore. I mean, like, yuck. Not my thing. However, I do love ghost stories and supernatural monsters (I keep wanting to read some H.P. Lovecraft), and, if it doesn’t lead to too much gruesomeness, I can definitely enjoy stories like this. This is definitely not something I would suggest to some of my less adventurous or conservative thinking family and friends, but it’s something I would suggest to the imaginative Mormon who doesn’t mind mixing fantasy and religion (and I know a number of non-Mormons who would get a kick out of it!) . So let’s get to the individual stories in the first part of the collection:
I’m a big fan of the Whitney Awards. I think they’ve filled a need with great success and have been managed professionally and sensibly. I’m always certain to nominate books I read that qualify and are deserving, and every year intend to actually act on my Academy membership and vote a category, but never quite succeed.
I do have two suggestions that I believe would further improve the Whitneys which I would like to humbly present publicly, in order to invite an open discussion of my suggestions’ merits.
I was excited to get Monsters and Mormons in my mailbox. Not only because it was put together by two of our peeps over here at A Motley Vision, but because the concept was just fun and quirky enough to get my attention, without going overboard. I first read some of the introductory material, and then read the graphic novel/comic book sections, because comic books are a part of pop culture I’ve been a sometimes reluctant, but more often avid fan of since I was in grade school. But somewhere in the front matter, I read that Eric James Stone’s “The Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” was included in the volume. After reading “Leviathan” and some other meaty entries, I’ve realized this was more than just fun pulp fiction and mad Mormon mash ups… this thing had a backbone.
I knew “The Leviathan Whom Thou Has Made” only by reputation. Eric Stone is a Mormon science fiction writer whose “Leviathan” won the prestigious Nebula Award and was a runner-up for the Hugo Award. Even though I’m only an infrequent taster of science fiction and fantasy literature, yet even I knew this was no mean feat for any writer, Mormon or not. So I immediately perked. I had originally intended to read the stories basically from cover to cover, but this particular story’s reputation drew me to it. I jumped straight ahead to “The Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made.”
Now I’m probably going to review the rest of the stories at a later time all together, once I’ve finished the anthology (it’s a pretty thick book, so I guess it may take me a while). But this one story left such a strong impression on me that I felt compelled to give it its own review while its still burning in my mind, heart and belly. more
A panel of Monsters & Mormons contributors will be discussing the anthology at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 11, 2012, at the Life, the Universe, and Everything conference held this year at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT.
The panel will be moderated by Dan Wells and feature Nathan Shumate, Eric James Stone, Jaleta Clegg, EC Buck and Steven Peck. They’ll talk about how their stories came about, the delights and dangers of mixing Mormonism with genre fiction, and more. It’s gonna be great.
Click here for conference registration details. Note that it uses UVU’s enrollment process so you will need to register for an account.