We are excited to announce the finalists in the Comics, Novel, and Picture Book categories of the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards. Middle Grade Novel, Young Adult Novel, Poetry, and Short Fiction were announced previously, and we will be announcing the other category finalists over the coming week, including Creative Non-Fiction, Drama, Film, Religious Non-Fiction, and Video Series. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, from the author and publisher websites.
Scott Hales. Mormon Shorts, Vol. 1
From the creator of the popular webcomic The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Mormon Shorts is a collection of Mormon-themed comics, cartoons, and tweet-length microstories that capture the endearing quirks and curiosities of the Mormon people.
Scott Hales is a writer and cartoonist from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the creator of the webcomics The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl and Mormon Shorts. Scott has an MA and PhD in English from the University of Cincinnati and a BA in English from Brigham Young University. He has published on American literature, comics, and Mormon fiction and poetry in various journals, including The Edgar Allan Poe Review, International Journal of Comic Art, and Religion and the Arts. He has also published fiction and comics in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and Sunstone. Scott currently lives in Utah with his wife, Sarah, and five children.
Anthony Holden. Precious Rascals
A collection of comics chronicling the life and times of the Holden family. It’s full of stories that encapsulate the last 8 years of their lives raising a house full of wild children.
Anthony Holden is a cartoonist and illustrator working in Oregon. He spends his daytime hours trying to balance playing with children while making art for film, television, comics, and books. His favorite breakfast food is waffles. His comics and drawings can be found at: twitter, facebook, instagram, and tumblr.
Brandon Sanderson (story), Rik Hoskin (script), Julius Gopez (art), and Ross Campbell (colors). White Sand
On the planet of Taldain, the legendary Sand Masters harness arcane powers to manipulate sand in spectacular ways. But when they are slaughtered in a sinister conspiracy, the weakest of their number, Kenton, believes himself to be the only survivor. With enemies closing in on all sides, Kenton forges an unlikely partnership with Khriss — a mysterious Darksider who hides secrets of her own. White Sand brings to life a crucial, unpublished part of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling Cosmere universe.
Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Brandon was finishing his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. In 2005 Brandon held his first published novel, Elantris, in his hands. Tor also published six books in Brandon’s Mistborn series, along with Warbreaker and then The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series are being released by Starscape (Tor). Brandon was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; the final book, A Memory of Light, was released in 2013. That year also marked the releases of YA novels The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.
H. B. Moore. Slave Queen, Thomas & Mercer/Amazon. Omar Zagouri Thriller Series #3.
Israeli Special Agent Omar Zagouri’s latest case is his most dangerous—and his most personal yet. The discovery of secret sixteenth-century letters unveils a plot between the sultan Suleyman and his chief wife, Roxelane, to change the course of the Ottoman Empire. A descendent of Roxelane, Zagouri learns he has an enemy whose revenge has been centuries in the making. Targeted by an antiquities collector who’s also descended from a chief rival for the ancient throne, Zagouri soon uncovers a modern-day conspiracy that threatens the lives of his family and the security of a nation.
Heather B. Moore is the USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than a dozen scripture-based historical novels which are set in Ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica. Heather writes her historicals and thrillers under the pen name H.B. Moore. She also writes women’s fiction, romance, and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore, including The Newport Ladies Book Club, the Amazon bestselling anthology series A Timeless Romance Anthology, the Aliso Creek series, and the USA Today bestseller Heart of the Ocean.
Julie J. Nichols. Pigs When they Straddle the Air. Zarahemla Books.
A novel in seven stories. These stories trace the arc of a family narrative in which mothers abandon their children for the best of reasons, fierce daughters reclaim their heritage, and the gap between spiritual health and the expectations of LDS culture affects the outcome of every episode. Poet Annie MacDougal, feminist Riva Maynard, and Riva’s daughter Katie spiral in and out of these seven “incidents” spanning more than three decades, along with the men and women they learn from and love.
Actively curious LDS. Anglophile. BYU grad in permanent exile. Companion to some of my husband’s horseback adventures. Health enthusiast: clean food and daily fitness. Momwifegrandmajuju. Northern California native. Professor of creative writing (Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah). Redhead. Reader. Runner. University of Utah alum. Writer. Her work has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, The Journal for the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning, and elsewhere.
Shawn Vestal. Daredevils. Penguin.
At the heart of this debut novel, set in Arizona and Idaho in the mid-1970s, is fifteen-year-old Loretta, who slips out of her bedroom every evening to meet her so-called gentile boyfriend. Her strict Mormon parents catch her returning one night, and promptly marry her off to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist who already has a wife and a brood of kids. The Harders relocate to his native Idaho, where Dean’s teenage nephew Jason falls hard for Loretta. A Zeppelin and Tolkien fan, Jason worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his close-minded community. He and Loretta make a break for it. They drive all night, stay in hotels, and relish their dizzying burst of teenage freedom as they seek to recover Dean’s cache of “Mormon gold.” But someone Loretta left behind is on their trail…
Daredevils is Vestal’s debut novel. A collection of short stories, Godforsaken Idaho, published by New Harvest in April 2013, was named the winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, which honors a debut book that “represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” He also published A.K.A. Charles Abbott, a short memoir, as a Kindle Single in October 2013. His stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney’s, Ecotone, The Southern Review, Cutbank, Sou’wester, Florida Review and other journals. He writes a column for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane,Wash., and teaches in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University.
Dan Wells. Over Your Dead Body. Tor. John Cleaver series #5
John and Brooke are on their own, hitchhiking from town to town as they hunt the last of the Withered through the midwest— but the Withered are hunting them back, and the FBI is close behind. With each new town, each new truck stop, each new highway, they get closer to a vicious killer who defies every principle of profiling and prediction John knows how to use, and meanwhile Brooke’s fractured psyche teeters on the edge of oblivion, overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of dead personalities sharing her mind. She flips in and out of lucidity, manifesting new names and thoughts and memories every day, until at last the one personality pops up that John never expected and has no idea how to deal with. The last of Nobody’s victims, trapped forever in the body of his last remaining friend.
Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.
The judge for Picture Book went the extra mile, and wrote citations for all of the finalists.
religious art, deeply symbolic and spiritual. Her visual work is so complete and intelligent it competes with the text for impact, a truly unique contribution to our Mormon cultural landscape.
Angela Fairwell attended South Carolina State University where she earned a degree in business management. She has been involved in a number of charitable organizations, including the Family for Literacy program, which strives to combat childhood illiteracy by donating new books to children from low-income families.
Benjamin began an epic comic book collection as a boy and always cheered for the good guys like Spider-man. He developed his superpower of dancing and met his beautiful wife, Keenan, at BYU while part of the International Folk Dance Ensemble. They now live in Utah Valley with their five children where Ben teaches Seminary. Ben enjoys dates with his wife, cheering on sports teams with his sons, and having dance parties in the driveway with his girls. He is also the author of the children’s book, I Hope They Call Me On A Mission.