An interview with Anthony Holden, AML Comics Award winner

An interview with Anthony Holden, the winner of the 2016 AML Comics Award for his collection Precious Rascals. The interview is conducted by Brittany Long Olsen, the winner of the 2015 AML Comics Award. Precious Rascals is a collection of comics chronicling the life and times of the Holden family, encapsulating the last 8 years of their lives raising a house full of wild children. Anthony Holden lives in Oregon, where 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: twitterfacebookinstagram, and tumblr.
As seen in Precious Rascals, you’ve been making comics about your family for many years. What made you decide to collect them into a book at this point in time?
I’ve shared the strips with family and friends for years and years. Many of those people have prompted me to consider putting them in a book for some time. I never felt like the audience was large enough until recently when my online following had grown to a point that I felt like I could justify having boxes of books taking up half our garage.

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The Beginning of a Mormon literature in Spanish? Part 2, Mexico, Uruguay, and elsewhere

By Gabriel González Núñez

Part I of this article can be accessed here. In it, some introductory thoughts were presented, and Argentine authors were surveyed.

Besides Argentina, another country where Mormon authors are beginning to publish is Mexico. There are two Mormon authors that I know of in this country. The first goes by the pen name Elisabet Zapiæn, but she also publishes under her real name Elizabeth González Torres. She debuted with a novel in 2012 titled San Rafael (Ulterior Editorial). The novel is about a love triangle against the backdrop of a murder mystery in a town called San Rafael. It has no distinctive Mormon features. Zapiæn has also published three short stories in literary journals, none of which have any Mormon elements.

Another Mexican author is R. de la Lanza. In 2015 he self-published a short story titled “El jerarca” [which can be translated as The Leader], which is a detective story about the murder of a Church employee. In 2016 he published his debut novel Eleusis (published by a group of publishers-in-training under the name Intendencia de las Letras). It tells the story of several generations of Mexican Latter-day Saints, from Mexican-Revolution-era pioneers to modern young single adults in Mexico City. The work is unquestionably of a fine literary quality, and it is definitely a work of Mormon literature. The novel’s portrayal of modern Mexican Mormons as largely a group of hypocrites is likely to be off-putting to some among the more faithful Latter-day Saint readers. De la Lanza has so far written about Mormon topics because, in his own words: “It’s the world I know […] I don’t know anything about drug lords, about other worlds, like the world of labor unions, of large corporations, etc. What I am most familiar with is the world of my brothers and sisters in the Church.” Continue Reading →

The Beginning of a Mormon Literature in Spanish?, Part 1: Introduction and Argentine authors

By Gabriel González Núñez

Gabriel González Núñez was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has lived in several countries, including Ecuador, Belgium, and the United States. His literary blog–which includes short stories, flash chronicles, and translations–can be accessed here. He lives in Brownsville, Texas, where he trains translators and interpreters at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He is happily married and has, as of right now, two children.

Word has it that if you can speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese you can speak to the most members of the LDS Church. This reflects a demographic reality: the overwhelming majority of members of the Church live in the Americas. The most widely spoken language in the so-called New World is Spanish. Naturally, as membership grows in the Americas, the number of Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints continues to grow. To me, this has meant for some time that there have to be Mormons in the Spanish-speaking world who write. And I’ve been trying to figure out who they are. Who we are, I should say, as Spanish is my native language and, I should add, the language of my heart (the two are not always the same).

As I searched, I discovered that indeed, Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints are writing, some as a way to make a living and others because they have something positive to say. For this post, however, I will focus on writers who have published books that are literary in nature. I will survey a number of authors who are LDS and who have published either poetry, plays, short stories, or novels. I also will focus on contemporary writers, as my search did not really extend into past generations. Notice that the emphasis is on Mormon writers and not necessarily Mormon literature. That’s because, as readers will see, we can’t really speak of a Mormon literature in Spanish. Not yet at least. So literature by Mormons will have to do at this point. Even so, when I discuss these writers, I will make sure to point out any Mormon themes in their writing. Continue Reading →

Mormons and Horror: Light Within the Dark

Mormons and Horror: Light Within the Dark

by Michaelbrent Collings

Paper sponsored by the Association for Mormon Letters, presented at Life, the Universe, and Everything writing convention, February 18, 2017.

(This post contains just the first part of Michaelbrent’s presentation on Mormons and Horror. Please see the full paper at his website, Written Insomnia.)

I am a horror writer.

I am a Mormon.

Whenever these two intersecting – and yes, they are intersecting – facets of my life are discovered, the response is invariably one of surprise, if not outright incredulity. Contrary to most people’s expectations, no one at church has every said, “A horror writer? Well, you are definitely going to Hell.” Indeed, the first person I tend to call when I want to watch a scary movie is  my stake president. That being said, even he was surprised when he first found out. Because it seems… what? Wrong?

And yet, as will be stated shortly, horror is perhaps the best-suited “genre” for Mormons; and Mormons are themselves the most horror-laden people… and neither in quite the way you would expect. Continue Reading →

Glimpses: The Good in Bad Art

Guest post by Glen Nelson, Mormon Artists Group

As part of a project I’m working on, I’ve recently had the great pleasure of visiting with members of the Church in their homes and places of business. Without exception, these spaces have been graced by Mormon artists’ works. It’s fun to talk to these collectors and hear the stories behind the art that they clearly love. Often, the artists were members of the family or were dear friends. After having looked at these works daily for many years, these collectors have become the artists’ greatest (and sometimes only) advocates. Maybe it’s just been good luck, but I’ve seen some amazing works in homes, grand and humble.

Equally interesting to me are good art and bad art. Often, the good and the bad hang side by side. The good art could easily find its way into museum collections, if the children and grandchildren ever decide to part with it (which they probably won’t), and the bad (a harsh word but not a wholly inaccurate one) refers to works that were made by family members and friends, and although not accomplished, it is still as meaningful, maybe even more so to the collectors; it is every bit as treasured.

That’s how it is at my house. One of my favorite paintings is by my father. In retirement, my dad told me that he had always wanted to take up painting. I was surprised, and I thought he was joking. I couldn’t ever remember him talking about it before. As Christmas neared a few years before he passed away, I went over to the New York Art Students League, where many great Mormon painters trained in the era of Mahonri Young and Minerva Teichert, and I purchased some brushes, paints, and boards for him. I was calling his unnamedbluff.

In 1989, he surprised me again by presenting me with a painting that he made for me as a gift. By most standards of art, it’s not good. He loved the mountains, and he painted a scene where he had spent much of his life as a sheepherder, logger, and finally a philanthropist and conservationist. The perspective of the painting is sort of wacky. The highway looks like a grey bike path. It’s not really very inventive, either. But…it does its job to remind me of the beauty of Cedar Mountain, and it certainly prompts me to love both the place and the painter. That’s all it asks. Continue Reading →

Disney’s Moana, mono-myths, and cultural appropriation

Today’s guest post is by Lehua Parker, the author of the MG/YA Pacific literature magic realism series, The Niuhi Shark Saga. You can read more by Lehua at her blog, Talking Story

moana-disney-still-new-300x169It’s Disney’s Moana. That’s really what it comes down to.

A couple of years ago, when Disney announced that in the tradition of AladdinMulanPocahontas, and Frozen, they were bringing to the screen Moana, a Polynesian princess tale, I was excited. When I learned that the story involved the demi-god Maui and ocean voyaging, I thought here was a movie I could take my kids to where we could talk about ancestral knowledge and what it means to be a literal descendant of the historical Maui and his sons.

And then I saw the trailers. Maui didn’t look anything like what I imagined the real Maui looked like—frankly, he didn’t even look human. And he was kind of an egotistical jerk. And a buffoon. And what was up with the nonsensical bits of crap around his neck and the random leaves for a malo? None of the sets and costumes seemed to belong to any particular island culture. I saw elements of Maori, Samoan, Tongan, and Fijian cultures—and precious little that was clearly Hawaiian. It was like someone had taken Pasifika and mashed it into a blender and—


lehua-parkerMoana is no more an authentic reflection of Polynesian culture than Mulan reflects China, Aladdin reflects Arabia, Pocahontas reflects Powhatans, or Frozen reflects Scandinavia. All of these stories are set in an alternate world—let’s call it Disneyland—that borrows heavily from real-world cultures to tell very classically western stories in the archetypical hero’s journey or mono-myth form. These stories follow specific patterns that start with a call to adventure, followed by an ordeal, a transformation, and an eventual return. Continue Reading →

Award Winners: Essayist Joey Franklin interview

Wife Happily marriedJoey Franklin was the winner of the 2015 AML Creative Non-Fiction Award, for his essay collection My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married (University of Nebraska Press). Today we present an interview with Franklin conducted by Elizabeth Tidwell, a fellow BYU faculty member.

The essay as a creative rather than academic genre can be a foreign concept to some—we’ve often heard “essay” more connected to the five-paragraph essay than the personal essay. But that’s steadily changing as the genre is growing. You’ve just published your first collection of essays, so you’re clearly invested in the form. Why the essay?

I took a fiction class in graduate school and wrote three stories. The first was about a handyman who discovers that a widow in his apartment complex is actually a white-collar criminal. The second involved a disgruntled member of the Japanese mafia who shakes down a local pre-school. The third followed a pregnant Arab woman on a plane who stops a schizophrenic passenger from attacking her (none of those stories ever made it out of workshop). Continue Reading →

Introducing Immortal Works Press

by James Wymore, Immortal Works Press Acquisitions Editor

Immortal worksImmortal Works Press, a new publishing company centered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is now open to submissions. Focusing on genre fiction for general audiences, we intend to distinguish our work from other small presses by focusing on a very specific reader audience and producing entertaining books of higher moral quality. We want our readers to know they can count on us to deliver what they are looking for every time. If our books were movies, they’d be the lighter side of PG-13. Every book we release will be released in all the e-book formats, in addition to trade paperback and audiobook.

So what’s different? We want to produce books that everybody over the age of 12 can enjoy, regardless of the age of the protagonist. Continue Reading →

Mormon fiction: weird joke, serious paradox?

Pigs_When_They_Straddle_the_Air_FinalBy Julie J. Nichols

Julie J. Nichols is the author of the recent novel Pigs When They Straddle the Air (Zarahemla Books). Read about her and her work at her blog

One Friday afternoon about five years ago I sat in extreme discomfort through a UVU English Department faculty meeting on whose agenda was the topic of development—or not—of a Mormon Lit curriculum. I wish you all had been there.

The UVU English Department faculty is a motley group, the largest department at the university. About half of us are from Mormon backgrounds, the other half decidedly not. Continue Reading →

Award Winners: Middle Grade Novelist Christine Hayes interview

Mothmans-Curse-Final-Cover1-350x524We continue our series of interviews with recent AML Award winners, with Rebecca J. Carlson’s interview of Christine Hayes, who won the 2015 AML Middle Grade Novel Award, for her debut novel, Mothman’s Curse. Hayes was also a finalist for the Whitney Middle Grade and Best Novel by a New Artist awards, and won the Friends of American Writers Young People’s Literary Award. Rebecca J. Carlson is an instructor at BYU-Hawaii.

On your blog you mention several of your favorite middle grade authors, like Cleary and Blume, and on the fantasy side Lloyd Alexander and C. S. Lewis. When I read Mothman’s Curse I thought it had a great classic children’s lit feel to it. Was that by design, or do you think you wrote it that way because that’s what you love to read?

Maybe a little of both! I was obsessed with reading as a child, but after taking a children’s literature course in college I was introduced to all kinds of authors I had somehow missed growing up—Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, John Bellairs, and so many more. That class definitely influenced my taste in books, so it makes sense that it also heavily influenced my preferred style of writing. Continue Reading →

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