1/28/08

LDS Horror

Can you define an LDS horror novel?

No. But I'll know it when I see it...

Seriously, LDS horror—as in demons, vampires, zombies, monsters, and such—is an oxymoron of sorts. Like LDS fantasy, horror presents some unique issues for LDS publishers. As a people, we don't really believe in those things. That doesn't mean we don't read horror or fantasy, but many LDS readers become seriously uncomfortable when those fictional elements are combined in a story with LDS theology and practice. Personally, I'd have a problem with the Laurel class president spending her nights slaying vampires, or a priest becoming a werewolf on occasion, although I have no problem with those things happening in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Twilight series.

Another issue is that in many horror stories (and movies), evil wins. It can't be stopped. It can't be beaten. This is contrary to what the gospel teaches. I don't like that message in non-LDS books and movies, I certainly wouldn't tolerate it in an LDS setting.

Has it been done? Has someone successfully combined horror and LDS elements? Sort of. On a national level, Orson Scott Card wrote Lost Boys which is about ghosts and an LDS family. Also, Unseen Odds by Shirley Bahlmann has some spooky stuff from LDS history, but I'm not sure I'd call that horror. (Readers, help me out here. I'm not a huge reader of horror, so I might be missing something.)

Will there ever be an LDS Stephen King or Dean Koontz? Highly likely.

Will their books be published by LDS publishers? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. I just know that I won't be taking that risk anytime soon.

5 comments:

William said...

What you are missing is Brother Brigham by D. Michael Martindale (published by Zarahemla Books).

It is definitely LDS horror.

But you are right on with the potential issues with the category for the LDS market.

Marny said...

Covenant is publishing a horror novel by Jeff Savage later this year, but I think this is the only other horror novel I know about, besides Brother Brigham. A few LDS writers, however, do publish horror even though it may not have LDS elements, notably Forrest Aguirre and Michael Collings (who will be the academic guest at the World Horror Convention, held this year in Salt Lake City), and of course Scott Card, who started out publishing horror short stories.

Anonymous said...

The economics in the LDS market do not work for the average author. The readership is NOT growing although the membership may be. Ask the retailers. The publishers have the data and they are betting on a small return on, say 300 authors. They walk away with half a milion a year in net profit but the average author receives $5000 a year after charge backs, reserves and expenses.

Most marketing in the LDS market does not impact sales in any meaningful way beyond the tried and true (firesides and retail outlet book signing) and word of mouth. About 10% of the brand name authors capture 80% of the market.

Write if you have "the bug" but do not quit your day job.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure Koontz isn't LDS? I have read lots of his stuff and he has LDS in most of his books. The story "Sole Survivor" parallels many of our teachings.

LDS_Publisher said...

Pretty sure he's not.