This post is for the non-Mormon readers of this blog who come from (most likely) the genre romance corner of the net.
Backstory: LDS fiction
(aka Mormon fiction)
is analogous to, say,
what Steeple Hill puts
out or any other run-
tional romance. No
swearing, no sex, very
clean. No taking the Lord’s name in vain,
no smoking, no drink-
ing, no allusions to any of these things. For all intents and purposes, the term “LDS fiction” has come to be defined informally in the same milieu as inspirational romance category fiction.
The lines get a little muddy when you have people like Orson Scott Card, who is an observant Mormon, who occasionally writes in explicit LDS terms but mostly doesn’t. Does he write LDS fiction or not? I say no. I say he’s an author who is LDS. His work isn’t marketed as LDS fiction and Mormons aren’t his target audience.
Then you’ve got Eugene Woodbury who has single-handedly managed to blow up that minutiae of the intrawebs interested in writing LDS fiction, publishing LDS fiction, reading LDS fiction, loving LDS fiction the way evangelicals love Janette Oke. Poor guy’s taking a beating (but then, he might like that; I don’t know his kink).
Aside: I urge my genre romance readers to go here and read his book, offered online, Angel Falling Softly, about a Mormon bishop’s wife making a deal with a vampire to save her daughter’s life. (It’s also available in Kindle and print.) Except for a teensy bit of Mormon culture that goes unexplained but which I think you can get from context, I think you’ll enjoy it. Unique take and no preaching and oh, a nice love scene (and, er, a little necessary girl-on-girl so the vamp can eat, but you didn’t hear that from me).
Which is why the LDS fiction contingent is blowing up even as we speak. For some reason, there is the perception out there that it was marketed as LDS fiction. It wasn’t. It was offered by an avant garde publisher of fiction that has its basis in Mormon culture. I mean, I expected to see a little of this, but for cryin’ out loud!
Then we get into the inevitable comparisons to Twilight, which is an erotic book. Whether it was intended to be, I don’t know. I don’t think so, though Janine from Dear Author disagreed. Mind, the majority of LDS readers who are online don’t get the heavy sexual subtext and think it’s a nice, clean read for their girls. To compound the problem, the vampire code for blameless sex is completely lost on the LDS culture in general (I don’t know why that surprised me).
Which is another reason everybody’s having hissy fits. Apparently, the back blurb with the word “vampire” in relation to saving a kid’s life wasn’t enough of a tipoff for LDS readers who thought they might be getting a Twilight clone with regard to its “cleanliness.”
So anyway. I’m watching all this going on, the sarcastic worry over the fate of Eugene’s salvation and standing in the church, the hand-wringing over the label “LDS fiction,” who should be writing it, who shouldn’t be writing it, who should use the label, who shouldn’t use the label. It’s all amusing, but sad at the same time.
What’s even sadder is that while they “feel” Eugene mocked the doctrine, mocked God, mocked Job, they don’t say how. (Hint: He didn’t.)
What I see are people who are so unwilling to venture away from the shelves of Deseret Book that they A) don’t know the obvious cues the back blurb is giving them, B) don’t want to acknowledge that moral ambiguity exists within the minds and hearts of good Mormons much less deal with it head-on, and C)
all too willing to condemn one of their own in specificity. For instance,
I think a lot of the problems the church is going to have in these last days are going to come from within. There are some disturbing trends coming to light and this is a prime example.
I am very glad that I don’t have to be there when Mr. Woodbury has his next priesthood interview!… Too bad the rest of us LDS authors may have to spend years making up for the damage this book will do.
Mind, I am not making fun of these people. That’s why I didn’t reference the comments with a link, because I don’t want anyone else to, either. They are my people. I go to church with them, I have friends like them, I am one of them. I’m not sure which of the above bothers me most, but I think it’s the rigidity, the soul-deep certainty that good people are blessed not to suffer pain or doubt or make difficult choices that have no right answer–and that people who have pain and doubt and have to choose between bad and worse somehow deserve it.
Check your pride at the door, folks. Maybe you did feel duped because you assumed it was LDS fiction as it is typically understood–and I am empathetic with that response; I’ve been ambushed, too. However, it was a vampire story. There was no ambush awaiting you. And please, be more careful in the future because when you read a back blurb that contains this:
Milada is Homo lamia. A vampire. Fallen. And possibly the only person in the world who can save Rachel’s daughter. Uncovering Milada’s secrets, Rachel becomes convinced that, as Milton writes, “all this good of evil shall produce.”
As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families, the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined.
you probably ought to think about what that might entail, even if you have no clue that vampire is code for sex and think Twilight was squeaky clean.
PS: Twilight Fangrrls. I have apparently become obliged to disclaim that I liked Twilight. Just…probably not for the same reason you did. Hawt. (Though that could just be my touchy libido.) No literary outrage need be expended on my behalf today, although I thank you for thinking of me.
PPS: I won’t be tagging my book LDS fiction, either, nor seeking shelf space at Deseret Book, so you are safe.