A few weeks ago a book by the Brazilian language entrepreneur and LDS Church member Carlos “Wizard” Martins, who started the massive Wizard Language Schools chain (similar to Berlitz), reached the bestseller lists in Brazil. I’m fairly sure that the book Desperte o milionÃ¡rio que hÃ¡ em vocÃª (Awake the Millionaire Inside of You) is, I believe, the first by a Brazilian Mormon to reach the bestseller list.
I first heard of his book just before it was launched in April, and I didn’t give it much thought then–I’m not really in the book’s the target audience of those seeking a financial fortune and I suspect I could just as easily get a copy of the book that started this genre, Napoleon Hill’s 1937 self-help classic Think and Grow Rich, to say nothing of the various similar books penned by Mormons here in the U.S. But now that Martins has achieved a Mormon milestone in Brazil, I have to wonder if he is the first Mormon to reach the best seller list with a book not originally written in English?
Can literature pave the way for the gospel? Have the ideas introduced in literature made the concepts of the restoration more acceptable? Without examining the question, I think most Mormons would say yes, suggesting that the inspiration of God during the enlightenment, for example, probably gave Joseph Smith the background and preparation he needed and put the right mix of ideas in the minds of potential converts.
But what about after that? Have subsequent literary authors opened the minds of readers, making the later introduction of the gospel more acceptable? And if so, which authors have done so?
The popular story of magic and wonder The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is being remounted by Zion Theatre Company at the Castle Outdoor Amphitheater Theater in Provo on October 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, and 15. Perhaps Lewis’s most recognizable work, ZTC’s production of the nationally published adaptation was popular enough during its initial run in Salt Lake City this last summer to warrant a run for Utah Valley audiences.
Director Rebecca Minson, who is also taking on the role of the White Witch, has roots with the original story and is enthused to be involved with the production, “I am so excited to be directing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a child I lived in the mountains and imagined my own Narnia to explore in my forested backyard of Southern California. I even used to nail bits of wood together to make a sword for myself because I was the fighter.” Continue reading “Press Release: Zion Theatre Company Presents _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_”
Courtney Miller Santo is a writer of mainstream/literary fiction who has been published in the Mormon literary journals as well as nationally. Her debut novel was just published last month. You can find out more about Santo at her author blog.
I’ll be honest — I had never heard of you until you were published in Irreantum. Tell us a bit about your background as a writer (you worked as journalist, right?), including when you started writing fiction with Mormon characters/themes.
There’s no reason you should have heard of me unless you read the Charlottesville Daily Progress, where I worked as a reporter for a bit. I didn’t get serious about my writing until I went back to school to get my MFA. Although I’d always been a voracious reader, I hadn’t considered the parallels (or I should say potential for parallels) between certain communities of writers and Mormons. I read Ozick, Malamud, Singer, Roth and even Jennifer Weiner and I kept wondering what Mormons could learn from them about writing about the culture surrounding religion, if not the faith itself. This is not to draw comparisons between the religions, and the traditions, just to say their approach to being Jewish struck a chord in me. I’ve primarily integrated Mormonism into my short fiction. It’s present in the novel, but not in any overt way and none of the protagonists are Mormon. But anyone who has a passing familiarity with the Book of Mormon will recognize the importance of the olive tree and the large families.
I really loved your short story “Flight”. What was its genesis?
Thank you. That story grew out of an afternoon I spent wandering around Balboa Park in San Diego. I’d bought the tickets intending to attend a wedding, but the wedding got called off and so I spent the afternoon thinking about why relationships fail and ended up taking the wrong path. Instead of going to the botanical house, I ended up on the backside of one of the park buildings is a tree filled with dozens of hummingbird feeders. The day I stumbled upon it there were also dozens of birds feeding and I sat on the curb watching them and outlining the story that would become “Flight”. Continue reading “Interview with Courtney Miller Santo, author of The Roots of the Olive Tree”
When I was given an iPhone for Christmas last year, I began exploring the apps and other materials that are available for the iPhone and came across iTunes U–Apple’s open courseware platform, which currently hosts thousands of “courses,” all available for free. [Unfortunately, since Apple’s courses are generally just video or audio files of lectures, they aren’t fullfledged courses.] Apple isn’t the only platform. Perhaps better known is MIT’s Open Courseware project, which includes 2,100 courses (full-fledged courses this time), also all for free. There are many others also.
But I didn’t find any courses in one of my principal areas of interest: Mormonism.
Just a reminder: entries for Everyday Mormon Writer’s are due at midnight tonight to firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can still donate to the contest. The dinners are over, but if you want to kick in $5-10 to support Mormon arts–or if you want an art print of one or all of the finalists, now is the time to step up and make that contribution.
The hard limit for contest submissions is 2,000 words — 1,000-word stories are preferred. Write 1k words on your lunch break and then revise tonight. I have it on good authority that the midnight deadline may be flexible so long as you can get your entries in before the editors check their email early tomorrow morning (but don’t push this flexibility; there will be a cut off. I’m just saying if 12 pm MDT arrives and you need 30 more minutes, you’ll be okay.).
I will admit that two of my three entries are closer to 2k than 1k and only of them is probably justified in going that long. But my laziness opens up the door for the rest of you to hit the editors’ sweet spot. And it can be done. For example, Everyday Mormon Writer recently re-published my Mormon Lit Blitz finalist “The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…“. That story started out around 1500 words, but by the time I submitted it to the Lit Blitz it was just under 1,000. Pruning 1/3 of the story was difficult, but I was able to do it. And it didn’t take more than a couple of hours. So get to it people. This is anyone’s competition to win.