We are pleased to announce the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in Novel and Short Fiction. We will be announcing the other category finalists over the coming week, including Comics, Creative Non-Fiction, Criticism, Drama, Film, Middle Grade Novel, Picture Book, Poetry, Religious Non-Fiction, and Young Adult Novel. The final awards will be announced and presented at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, held at Brigham Young University on March 23. The Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters and the AML Lifetime Achievement awards will also be presented there. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors, academics, and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, adapted from the author and publisher websites.
Claire Åkebrand, The Field is White. KERNPUNKT Press
John Eliason is a young Mormon missionary from Alberta about to return home after two years in Sweden. When his only convert dies, John’s last duty is to visit the estranged family to make funeral arrangements. As the snow strands him in the countryside, tensions rise and family secrets are uncovered. The story unfolds through letters, journal entries, flashbacks, and fragmented ruminations. It is a love note to people outside of their cultural comfort zones, to failed poets, and to silence.
Claire Åkebrand is a Swede who grew up in Germany and Utah. Her poetry has appeared in the Manchester Review, BOAAT, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry collection What Was Left of the Stars was published by Serpent Club Press in Summer 2017. She was shortlisted for the 2017 University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize judged by Billy Collins. She currently lives in Provo with the poet Michael Lavers and their two children.
Brian McClellan, Sins of Empire. Gods of Blood and Powder #1. Orbit
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires. The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present. As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
Brian McClellan is an American epic fantasy author from Cleveland, Ohio. He is known for his acclaimed Powder Mage Universe and essays on the life and business of being a writer. Brian now lives on the side of a mountain in Utah with his wife, Michele, where he writes books and nurses a crippling video game addiction. Brian’s novels include the Powder Mage Trilogy and the Gods of Blood and Powder.
Steven L. Peck, Gilda Trillim: Shepherdess of Rats. Roundfire Books
Steven L. Peck’s intriguing, literary narrative follows Gilda Trillim’s many adventures; from her origins on a potato farm in Idaho, to an Orthodox Convent in the Soviet Union, to her life as a badminton champion. When Gilda is taken prisoner during the Vietnam war, she finds comfort in the company of the rats who cohabit her cell. Follow Gilda as she struggles to comprehend the meaning of life in this uncanny, philosophical novel which explores Mormonism, spirituality and what it means to be human.
Steven L. Peck is a professor of evolutionary ecology at Brigham Young University. He has published award-winning fiction and poetry in a variety of places. He is the author of the novel A Short Stay in Hell. His novel The Scholar of Moab won the 2011 AML Novel Award. His collection of his short stories, Wandering Realities, includes his 2014 AML Short Fiction Award winning story “Two-dog Dose.” His writing on science and religion includes the essay collection Evolving Faith and Science the Key to Theology. His novel The Tragedy of King Leere, Goatherd of the La Sals is forthcoming from BCC Press. He lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with his wife, Lori Peck. They have five children.
Luisa Perkins, Prayers in Bath. Mormon Artists Group
After several attempts at in vitro fertilization, Ted and Julia Taylor are out of money and out of hope. In an attempt to shake herself out of her depression, Julia accepts an internship on an archaeological dig in Bath, England. When she finds an ancient scroll while working in the sewer connected to the Roman baths, she sneaks it back to her flat, translates it, and discovers a secret previously lost in the shadows of legend. But her new knowledge poses significant risks, and the repercussions leave her career, her faith, and her marriage hanging in the balance.
Educated at Brigham Young University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, Luisa Perkins has always been intrigued by the power of language to inspire, reveal, and transform. She is the author of the novels Dispirited and The Book of Jer3miah: Premonition, as well as several short stories and essays.
Dan Wells, Nothing Left to Lose. John Cleever #6. Tor
Hi. My name is John Cleaver, and I hunt monsters. I used to do it alone, and then for a while I did it with a team of government specialists, and then the monsters found us and killed almost everyone, and now I hunt them alone again. This is my story. In this thrilling installment in the John Wayne Cleaver series, Dan Wells brings his beloved antihero into a final confrontation with the Withered. Nothing Left to Lose is a conclusion that is both completely compelling and completely unexpected.
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. His previous John Cleaver novel Over Your Dead Body was the winner of the 2016 AML Novel Award.
Alison Maeser Brimley is a currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Brigham Young University, where she also teaches writing and rhetoric. She lives in Sandy, Utah with her husband.
Robert Alan Christmas has a B.A. from Stanford, M.A. from U.C., Berkeley, and a Ph.D from USC, all in English. He joined the Church in 1957, and has been publishing poetry, fiction, and criticism in Dialogue since the first issue. He left college teaching in 1973 for a forty-year career in business, twenty spent selling and investing in real-estate in the Provo/Salt Lake area with his late wife and partner, Carol Dennis, with whom he served three LDS senior missions. He has published seven books of poetry, a collection of stories, and a songbook from his years as a singer-songwriter in Hollywood; and he is working on his first musical, “A Carol Christmas / Musical The.” He lives in southern Utah with a daughter and six of his twenty-some grandchildren. Christmas is the winner of the 1981 AML Short Fiction Award and the 1987 AML Poetry Award.
Bradeigh Godfrey is a physician, mother, and writer. Her short fiction and creative nonfiction has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including The Examined Life, Sunstone, Litro Magazine, Segullah, The Intima, and others. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and four children.
Heidi Naylor’s features and fiction have appeared in the Washington Post, Sunstone, the Jewish Journal, the Idaho Review, Portland (magazine of the University of Portland), New Letters, and other magazines. She is fortunate to have received a recent fellowship in literature from the Idaho Commission on the Arts as well as several other awards for her short stories. She is a Lecturer at Boise State University, where she teaches writing and literature. Her short story collection Revolver is forthcoming from BCC Press.
Steven Peck is a professor of evolutionary ecology at Brigham Young University. He has published award-winning fiction and poetry in a variety of places. He is the author of the novel A Short Stay in Hell. His novel The Scholar of Moab won the 2011 AML Novel Award. His collection of his short stories, Wandering Realities, includes his 2014 AML Short Fiction Award winning story “Two-dog Dose.” His writing on science and religion includes the essay collection Evolving Faith and Science the Key to Theology. His novel The Tragedy of King Leere, Goatherd of the La Sals is forthcoming from BCC Press. He lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with his wife, Lori Peck. They have five children.