Though my novel The Field Is White concerns a Mormon missionary and has a very Doctrine & Covenants title, I neither think of it as Mormon literature, nor a book about Mormons. It is a novel foremost about love, death, the purpose of art, forgetfulness, family, and time. My novel is for anyone of any background who is interested in literary fiction and who finds pleasure in slowed pace, figurative language. and self-indulgent ruminations.
I started writing The Field Is White six years ago. My husband and I were living in Frankfurt, Germany for a year. We didn’t have a car and therefore relied on trains and busses. We walked a lot. I remember listening to Rachmaninov often during that time. His Prelude in G Minor, the rapid tempo of it, kept creating this vision for me of a missionary trudging through a heavy blizzard.
I wanted to get to know this imagined missionary. Why did he keep coming back to me? As I began to write my way toward the idea of him, he turned out to be John Eliason from Lethbridge, Alberta serving a mission in Sweden in the 50s. He baptizes an old poet named Emil Quist (curiously similar to my own grandfather Holger Bergius). Turns out, John is losing his faith. He doesn’t want to go back to Alberta where familial trouble awaits him. He uses his convert’s death as an excuse to escape to the countryside where he seeks out the estranged family. As the snow strands him with the widow and daughter, tensions rise and John learns some uncomfortable things about Emil. Continue Reading →