#MormonLit: Halloween reading


I read at least one scary book per October. I think the best one I tried this time around was Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon. It fell apart a bit at the end, but I was on codeine at the time so my opinion is suspect.

I’ll let someone else defend horror today, but if you’re just now getting the jones for a scare, some successful Mormons in the field to check out include Michaelbrent Collings, Dan Wells, and Ben Hopkin.

Zarahemla has put out a few frighteners: Dispirirted, Brother Brigham (out of print), Angel Falling Softly (out of print).

And hey!

Most importantly, as always, Monsters & Mormons. You can’t do better than that on Halloween.

Short Story Friday: Pride of Lions by Eugene Woodbury

Because this story by Eugene Woodbury features this line: “I don’t need a chaperon, Forrest.” And it’s an interesting, slightly subversive (read the story and Eugene’s note below) but in a good way, slice of home literature.

Title: Pride of Lions

Author: Eugene Woodbury

Publication Info: The New Era, 1993

Submitted by: Eugene

Why?: Eugene says: When an editor at The New Era correctly recognized the homage to Christian Slater (Pump up the Volume, Heathers), I restrained myself from quipping, “Oh, so you watch R-rated movies too?”


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The Hero’s Journey of the Mormon Arts


As Motley Vision‘s newest Official Contributor, I feel an obligation to have my first post explain something of my experience within and attitude towards the Mormon arts.

Several months ago, I plotted out a post called “Hero’s Journey of the Mormon Artist” which I had intended to submit to William. I’m glad I never finished it however as further reflection has suggested to me that I was implying that that my proposed version of the hero’s journey was a necessary part of being a good Mormon artist. As if being an Orson Scott Card or a Dean Hughes is more admirable than being a Heather Moore or an Anita Stansfield (no sexism intended). And so I continued refining the idea and now I feel that it is not Mormon artists who are on a hero’s journey, but the Mormon arts entire. I will not be going into all seventeen stages of the monomyth, but I will deal with the three major groupings and hit on the secondary levels when they seem helpful.

* Continue reading “The Hero’s Journey of the Mormon Arts”

Short Story Friday: “A Picture of My Father as a Young Man” by Eugene Woodbury

This will be our last Short Story Friday for a bit — this feature is going on hiatus for a month so that AMV can celebrate National Poetry Month (more on that when April hits). This week, we’re circling back to Popcorn Popping for a story by Eugene Woodbury.

Title: A Picture of My Father as a Young Man

Author: Eugene Woodbury

Publication Info: Popcorn Popping, Sept. 2006 [Wow — was it really that long ago?]

Submitted by: Eugene Woodbury

Why?: Eugene writes:

“This story is based on a true incident, the Schenectady/Glenville (New York) ward chapel burning down.”

Wm adds: What I liked about this story when we accepted it for publication was how it brings together the issue of children with much older parents (often the result of second marriages) and on how some generations of Mormons, those who were around when congregations paid for and built their own chapels, have a different relationship to their ward buildings than younger generations. In particular, it fits in to my own Mormon lit hobby of desiring more stories that deal with the issues that arose/arise out of the post-WWII Mormon diaspora.


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Possible online sources of stories and link to spreadsheet with current submissions

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Holy fools wrestling with god

Somehow I missed that Eugene Woodbury had posted an essay titled on his Web site. Or perhaps I knew about it and then forgot about it and then rediscovered it. Whatever the case it’s a fantastic read. So go read it.

It was written as a response to an essay by Stephen Carter and Stephen and Eugene did their duo-presentation at a Sunstone Symposium and the back in 2007.

Eugene (summarizing Stephen) begins with:

We propose that narrative fiction constructed in a Mormon context and for Mormon audiences often strays from conventional storytelling in several ways. Principal among these is the negation or diminution of the “second act.” These stories skip from the first act (the set up) to the third act (the reassuring resolution), leaving out the struggle in between. Continue reading “Holy fools wrestling with god”

My (brief) take on Eugene Woodbury’s Angel Falling Softly

Here’s the blurb I provided Zarahemla Books for Eugene Woodbury’s vampire/Mormon novel Angel Falling Softly:

In melding the vampire genre with Mormon literary fiction, Eugene Woodbury has created a hybrid that is startling, fresh, insightful and heartbreaking. When I first heard of this audacious project, I was both skeptical and excited. What’s remarkable about Angel Falling Softly isn’t just that Eugene does something new with vampire tropes (that in this case also involve the worlds of bio-tech and high finance) or that he provides a complex, touching portrait of a Mormon mother desperately trying to save her terminally ill child. It’s that he weaves these elements together with well-deployed literary (often Biblical) allusions and quotations that add substance to the questions raised about belief, redemption, desire, sin and death. The novel is insistently literary while being solidly genre-based. Sounds pretty cool, right? And yet what most amazed me is that he pulls it all off without violating the supernatural and metaphysical boundaries of
Mormonism or of the vampire genre. Which is not to say that the story is believable — it’s fantasy — but rather that by enforcing (and pushing against) these boundaries, he plays the two worlds against each other in way that maximizes reading pleasure and says something new about the Mormon experience

Angel Falling Softly is available from Zarahemla Books. Also be sure to check out Eugene Woodbury’s Web site.

Content Warning: AMV draws readers from a fairly wide spectrum of the Mormon audience. Thus, I think it’s only fair to warn that Angel Falling Softly contains a couple of scenes of foreplayish but not at all sexy vampire seductions (that end in feedings  — not sex) and one scene of marital sex that is sort of graphic but more with metaphorical than descriptive terms. None of the scenes are gratuitous — meaning they add to the story and the development of characters and the consequences of the story would be lessened without them. Nor are they particularly arousing. And really, parts of the Bible are much more sexy than what’s found in the novel.

Eugene Woodbury’s new novel — published by Zarahemla, serialized for free

Mormon author Eugene Woodbury is continuing the experiment with giving away his work for free that he and I discussed in an April 20 Q&A. His new novel Angel Falling Softly will be published by Zarahemla Books this fall, but starting next month Eugene will begin posting a chapter of the novel each week.

Here is the description of the novel from Eugene and Zarahemla Books:

Over the past six months, Rachel Forsythe’s perfect life has descended from the ideal to the tragic. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer. Despite her standing as the wife of a respected
Mormon bishop, neither God nor medical science has blessed her with a cure.

Or has He?

Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to finalize the takeover of a Salt Lake City-based medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Sandy suburbs.

And then the welcome wagon shows up. Her neighbors perceive her to be a beautiful, intelligent, and daunting young woman. But Rachel senses something about Milada that leads her in a completely different–and very dangerous–direction.

Rachel’s suspicions are right: Milada is homo lamia. A vampire. Fallen. And possibly the only person in the world who can save Rachel’s daughter.

As Rachel uncovers Milada’s secrets, she becomes convinced that, as Milton writes, “all this good of evil shall produce.” As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families,
the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined.

A Mormon middlebrow-literary, domestic drama, mystery, vampire novel. And one that quotes Milton. If that sounds interesting to you, check out Eugene’s other work. This is exactly the kind of thing one expects from him. Or to put it another way — the novel description didn’t cause me to raise my eyebrows because it had Eugene’s name attached to it. I look forward to reading it.

Eugene Woodbury on his novel The Path of Dreams

Eugene Woodbuy has revised his unique self-described home literature meets modern romance novel The Path of Dreams and is offering it on his Web site in three formats: a free online version, a free PDF download, and a trade paperback that you can buy from Lulu.

Here is how he describes the novel:

The Path of Dreams is a romantic fantasy arising out of the traditional Japanese practice of the arranged marriage. The matchmakers in this case are an Osaka samurai academic and a Scottish Mormon polygamist. The union these two 19th century raconteurs plot for their great-great grandchildren is one their descendants never could have anticipated, for this o-miai exists only on “the path of dreams.”

Although they have never met before, a seemingly chance encounter leaves Elaine Chieko Packard and Connor McKenzie haunted by passionate dreams they cannot control. They determine to resolve the growing tension between the moral strictures of their religion and their own overpowering emotions by eloping, a decision that triggers an entirely unexpected series of events.

In the days and months that follow, they find themselves reliving — in dreams and reality — many of the same conflicts their parents and grandparents once did. They come to realize that their lives cannot move forward until they have attended to the unsettled obligations of the past. As the prophet Malachi commanded, they must “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”

I was curious about the revisions and the modes of distribution he was offering, and Eugene was kind enough to answer my questions: Continue reading “Eugene Woodbury on his novel The Path of Dreams”