5/21/08

Judging LDS Authors by LDS Standards

Do you judge LDS authors by LDS standards even when they are writing for the national market?
I'm LDS. That is part of what defines me as an individual. As such, I judge everything by LDS standards. There are certain standards I expect in the books that I read, as well as in books that I publish. Those standards are strongly influenced by my religious beliefs. There are lines that I cannot cross. Regardless of the author's religious beliefs, or lack of them, I have serious issues with pornography, graphic violence, and situations where behaviors condemned by my religion are promoted and upheld as the ideal. My line in the sand is drawn in the same spot for all authors, regardless of the market for which they are writing.

That said, the intended readership influences what is acceptable in an LDS book versus what is acceptable in the national market. For example, in my opinion, frequent and vile profanity is inappropriate regardless of the market. However, in the national market, an occasional h** and d** is tolerable for me, as well as for most readers in that market, including readers who also happen to be LDS. I would not have a problem if an LDS author included some light swearing in their national books, although, personally, I don't think it's necessary. In the LDS market, any amount of swearing can be a problem because it will offend the majority of the intended readership.

[Now, if you're asking if I think Stephenie Meyer should have kept the boyfriend (vampire or otherwise) out of her main character's bedroom at night or if I think the fact that the girl is silly, immature, manipulative and lies to her father shows a disloyalty to Meyer's LDS values, my answer is, give it a rest! I am so tired of hearing about this. First, spend your energy talking to your children about what types of behaviors are and are not appropriate, and worry about keeping the boyfriends out of your own daughter's bedroom rather than worrying about whether or not Meyer is a good enough Mormon. And second, if your daughter is reading Twilight (which is incredibly tame by national standards and not too far off base for LDS standards—aside from the whole vampires don't exist thing), be grateful she's not reading others in the same genre (such as Sunshine by Robin McKinley.)]


Would you publish an LDS author in the LDS market after that author had written national books that didn't support LDS standards?
It depends on how offensive I found their national books. (Read here.)

10 comments:

Nancy said...

Publisher, amen to all you've said. I agree wholeheartedly, and a double THANK YOU regarding your Stephenie Meyer paragraph. Bravo, bravo.

Nancy Campbell Allen

Noble M Standing said...

I have to agree with you, when I wrote my novel it was for the national market and included a few "words" (the bad guy was... a bad guy.) However when I felt it was time to shop it to the LDS market I took out the words and altered a few scenes.

I agree on your opinion of Stephenie Meyer, with one exception, I am way more worried about her view of marriage, and commitment than her vampire spending the night in Bellas room. I spent more time talking to my teen about that than anything else in the book.

Michelle

Sue said...

Fascinating. I've always wondered where that line is.

Are characters in LDS fiction allowed to face real temptation? Are they allowed real flaws and sins? Or should their temptation and flaws always be minor and non-threatening?

In my opinion, too often the conflicts at the heart of LDS fiction are artificial (somebody is getting kidnapped, or they're off to find a treasure, blah blah blah) because the characters aren't allowed any real flaws unless they're straight out evil, tie-her-to-the-train-tracks villains. We're not allowed to have gray people.

That may be a dated notion. I haven't read a great deal of current LDS fiction. (Blasphemy.)

Rebecca Talley said...

Great, thought-provoking question.

Judge art by its own merits and what makes you feel comfortable. One man's art is another man's trash.

Write and read what is in your comfort zone because, in the end, you can only be judged for your own choices, not for anyone else's.

If we start to judge artists by LDS standards we will not be able to enjoy much art. It's the art that we should judge, not the artist.

And, I would love someone to list issues that are not addressed in LDS fiction because I frequently hear the argument that LDS fiction is sappy and without merit because it doesn't examine real-life issues.

Jennie said...

I agree with this post too. I have a line I won't cross whether the book I'm reading is by an LDS author or not and when I write I hold myself to those same standards. It's silly to applaud an author's work simply because he or she is LDS if the work doesn't meet our personal standards. Also Sue, LDS characters can have very real flaws or problems to deal with. My hero/heroines have included a bank robber, a jewel thief,an unmarried mother, a woman healing from childhood sexual abuse, an abandoned child, a woman involved with a cult, and many more. I have an upcoming book that centers around spousal abuse. Problems don't get much more real than those Josie Kilpack, Julie Wright, and Toni Sorenson Brown have written about. Sandra Grey, Dean Hughes, and Rachel Nunes have recently written books that deal with very real personal questions of conscience. Problems from pornography, rape, abuse, divorce, broken covenants, polygamy, adultry, stalkers, pedophilia, and on down to zits are included in LDS fiction. There are no taboo subjects, only taboo or offensive ways of dealing with these and any other difficult problems. Generally LDS fiction focuses on facing, healing from, overcoming or in some way improving negative situations rather than on the gory details of the negative action itself. This doesn't mean sugar coating or downplaying the negative actions, but it does mean treating these topics with respect and hope.

Rebecca Talley said...

Great points, Jennie. You've said it much better than I could.

Betsy said...

I can't help but wonder if all the critcism thrown at Stephenie Meyer is not envy talking.

Anonymous said...

betsy,
I am so excited for Stephenie Meyer. I am not jealous of her at all. I am glad to see those in our religion do well in anything, it gives us publicity and proves those old rumors wrong.
Michelle

Tristi Pinkston said...

"Sunshine" was . . . well, . . . it was disappointing. I love many of Robin McKinley's books. That one didn't last a whole chapter with me.

Thanks for this post, LDSP -- and the comments are all great. Esp. Jennie's.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Excellent post! I loved your comments regarding Stephanie Meyer's books. It annoys me that friends let their teens read mainstream romance or James Patterson novels, but because Meyer happens to be LDS, they nit pick about every little thing. I agree that her books are super tame considering what's available and considered "standard reading" in the national market.