I Have Something to Say About That…

Thoughts from Author Jenny Proctor

On Writing my Faith


badge-im-a-mormon-blue-borderA few weeks before my novel was released, I had a little bit of a mini panic attack in regards to, you know, the whole concept of people actually READING my book.

What would people think?

What if people didn’t like it?

What if people read and think I deserve to be stoned in town square?

Fine, scratch that last one. I didn’t really worry about being stoned. And we don’t even have a town square. But I did worry about one question in particular, far more than any other.

See, I live in a place that isn’t particularly Mormon. The Mormon church does have a small congregation in our area, but for the most part, the people that I interact with on a daily basis–at the school, the gym, the grocery store, the library–they do not share my Mormon faith. I also have many family members who are not Mormon, most of them, actually. My parents are converts, and my husband is too. So most of our extended family? Not Mormon.

And yet, these lovely wonderful friends and family members were being kind and generous and wanted to support my novel. They were pre-ordering and spreading the word and making me feel loved and lifted.

And this made me worry.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think I wrote a “Mormon” book. It IS a book about finding faith and connecting with your family and redefining your relationship with God. Those themes are pretty universally Christian. But there are elements (just a few) that make the story uniquely Mormon. I am a Mormon, after all. Would the Mormon elements of the story be confusing to others? Would it make people uncomfortable? Would people feel duped when half way through the book, the Mormons show up? I wondered if I needed to send out an email that said, “Hey, just so ya know. There’s Mormons in the book. And they’re the good guys.”

My husband encouraged me to relax, to let the book speak for itself. My critique partner asked me, if those same friends and family members I worried about called me up and asked me to tell them about my faith, would I say no? Would I run away in fear, worry all over my heart? Of course I wouldn’t. So I shouldn’t fear the message the book shares either. Very good, very true, very wonderful points.

And so I did try and relax. I was honest when people asked about the book. I tried to be gracious when people offered their support. Book release came and went, and the reviews and feedback started to trickle in. I asked my nonmember friends what they thought. Did it feel preachy? (No.) Did the Mormon parts bother you? (Not at all.) Did you feel pressured to convert? (Are you crazy? I also read books about the Amish without feeling like I need to throw away my Iphone and move to Amish country. Let it go already.) (I totally didn’t make that answer up. Real friend. Real answer.)

And so I started to relax. (For real, this time.) And I’m still relaxed. I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the positive reception the book has received by so many. It’s selling very well… just made it into the top twenty on Deseret Book’s best seller general fiction list. It’s been nominated for a Whitney Award, an annual awards program for books written by LDS Authors, and it received positive reviews both by Meridian Magazine and LDS Women’s Book Review. These things make me happy and grateful and heart-full.

I’m sure there are plenty (friends and family not withstanding) who have read the book and didn’t care for it. It’s inevitable that everyone will not always like everything. And I’m good with that. But when one reviewer recently commented that she’d felt misled by the book and wished she’d known that the book was about Mormons, my original question resurfaced.

Do Mormons need warning labels?

I’m not sure there’s one answer that would ever fit every person. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences that have contributed to our view of things and people and religions. But I do know this. I am not ashamed of my faith. Take it or leave it, I love what I believe in and I love making it a part of the stories that I write. So? I don’t know what comes after the so. I guess I just felt like I needed to say it out loud.


14 thoughts on “On Writing my Faith

  1. I have tons of LDS friends, and while the faith is not for me, you shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are. You made yourself a part of the book. That’s a good thing.

  2. I’m insanely proud of you, Jenny, and I’m really enjoying your book, taking me longer than it would if I didn’t have 3 lively kids to look after and a husband who works unbelievably hard getting his masters degree in taxation, and at his job as a corporate tax analyst.
    We should all be unashamed of what we believe in and have the courage to stand up for our beliefs, even if we are standing alone, which by the way you are most certainly not! Very proud of you and your accomplishments and very much look forward to reading all your future novels as well!
    Love ya,

  3. I very much enjoyed your book. Couldn’t put it down as a matter of fact! I’m not Mormon… but I sure could relate to many things that you wrote. Anxiously awaiting your next book. 🙂

  4. My friends that are not Mormons are loving your book. I am giving it for birthday gifts and hearing very well thought out questions and positive comments. I Just bought another one today in a nice little book store in Columbia SC.

  5. I just read that review. It makes me a little sad that the reviewer you mentioned seems to be clueless about Mormons. We aren’t scary, and no one will burst into flames by being near me or by reading stuff about Mormons.

  6. Congrats on your book. I’m writing an LDS fiction/historical romance, and I can relate to your concerns. What will poeple think????, Good point about the amish themed books. People love those, yet no one feels they are being preached at. Anyway, good luck. will follow your blog and see how it goes.

  7. I’ve been absent to checking the blogging world. Loved catching up and just bought my own copy. Excited to read. Someday will you train me how to put all these ideas and characters on paper!! So excited for you.

  8. Pingback: Three posts on The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor | A Motley Vision

  9. Please see Theric’s review of The House at Rose Creek at A Motley Vision, http://www.motleyvision.org/2014/house-at-rose-creek/

  10. Pingback: This Month in Mormon Literature, April 2014 | Dawning of a Brighter Day

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