Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love, Blood, & Rhetoric

I have to laugh that the LDS Church owned bookstore/publisher Deseret Book won't carry James Dashner's latest YA juggernaut "The Scorch Trials" despite Dashner being one of their more successful authors with a different YA series-"The 13th Reality"

Big Deal, they won't carry my book either.

It was cited that because of violence and swearing - "damn" and "shuckface"??? Scorch Trials might be too much-though the book could be special ordered through the local monopoly, I mean bookstore, for that fan that just can't find the bestseller at B&N's I suppose.

What about my book? Mine is a potential Whitney Award Nominee (LDS Author awards) I'm in the running very strong and the novel is Book of Mormon historical fiction. I've been getting good reviews-I was even stunned to find out that author/reviewer Jennie Hansen gave me 5 Stars! on Goodreads. I was very surprised because I thought she would hate it. Guess you never know-now if she would just mention that in Meridian Magazine.

But Deseret Book doesn't (won't?) carry me. And I have never once used the word "Shuckface".

Perhaps its the bloody violence, though I have only ever read one review mentioning the bloodiness (and that reviewer seemed a little squeamish in my opinion)- especially considering the Book of Mormon is a pretty bloody book-I stuck close to the source in that respect. Maybe its the love, or the lack thereof would be closer to the truth. Perhaps its the rhetoric-I did my best to write a book that would entertain and elaborate based on my peculiar cultural background, but not preach.

Remember for good drama, you have to have a combination of - love, blood & rhetoric - whether love and blood OR blood and rhetoric - but in my writings I have to have the blood - blood is compulsory.


Charles Gramlich said...

shuckface is gonna be my new favorite curse word. For a while anyway. :)

Paul R. McNamee said...

I chuckle with irony every time I hear about some Christian group or other getting worked up over sex and violence. Have they not read the Old Testament?

Full of it!

(granted, I am talking s & v that makes sense for the story and not needlessly gratuitous.)

Bunch of shuckfaces ;)

David J. West said...

That made me laugh Charles.

Yours too Paul-exactly, the Old Testament is a very bloody book, filled with some incredibly brutal scenes-that are included (I believe) for the sake of making us think.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Where've ya been? I've missed ya! ;)

I'm sorry to hear that about your book. Who knows what they're thinking. Ask Lisa Mangum, she's part of the publishing industry, though she's not part of the retail, but she might be able to clarify some stuff for ya.

Btw, who did those paintings? I wanna know!!

Take care, David! You're book is great.

~Elizabeth :)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

PS--part of the industry as in Deseret. Sorry.

Erin West said...

I'm along with Paul, we're reading the Old Testament right now, and some stuff I've read in there all I can think is, "Hm, well it's a good thing my four year old has no idea what I just read right there."

John and I poke a little fun at it:
Reuben: "Hey! You look like a hooker, wanna spend the night with me and I'll give ya a goat as payment?"

Shuckface??? Must be the Mormon substitute...kind of like "shiz."

J. Max Wilson said...

What I said in my review was:

"...the book was very gory. Perhaps this was unavoidable given both the human sacrificing elements drawn from ancient American archeology and history and the wars of degenerate, secret-society controlled nations drawn from the Book of Mormon. But I did find the increasing amounts of spurting blood off-putting. I have family members who would probably have enjoyed this book, but I have a hard time recommending it to them because I know that they will find the gore disturbing."

Of course the Old Testament and many other books I love are very violent. Personally, I make a distinction between violence and gore. It is the gore that I found somewhat off-putting, not the violence itself. So if I am squeamish, it is because of the grisly detail of the violence.

It is one thing to say that the army catapulted the heads of decapitated soldiers over the city wall to terrorize the besieged inhabitants (as Tolkien does). It is another to detail the putrefaction, oozing blood, and distortion of the heads themselves (which Tolkien does not). In my opinion there is value in letting the reader's own mind fill in that kind of detail to whatever degree they are comfortable instead of imposing a specific degree of grisly detail.

That said, I think it is a shame that Deseret Book wont carry either your book or Dashner's book. I enjoyed The Maze Runner a lot and have recommended both your books to many of my friends and family and I will read the sequels.

David J. West said...

Elizabeth-I've been here. My sister-in-law did those pieces for my book trailer.

Erin-oh yeah there are some doozies. I mean who pays a whore with a goat? Honestly? I guess today it would be more like giving your mistress a new car-but then when you don't pay-she comes out in public about it and you lose your Nike contract.

J.Max-I did not mean to offend you for saying squeamish-hope I didn't. But do you really think mine was that gory? Violent yes, but gory?
I didn't think I ever mentioned splatter or entrails and what-not, but I did want the reader to visualize the apocalpytic atrocity that was Cumorah. So I'm wondering if we have different visions of what gore is. (maybe I'll do a post about this)
Gore is generally meaningless and done for the sake of shock factor-I did not want to shock anyone-but I did want to convey the vision (as I see it) of Cumorah. I have visted the Hill several times, I have knelt and prayed alone on its wooded slope and felt the sorrow there.
That's what I wanted to convey-not shock for the sake of shock. A huge motivation for me in writing the book(s) was, 'I felt' everyone previous was candy-coating it and not realizing the dire situation of any era therin. I have told mothers at signings that I DO NOT consider it YA and thus losing some potential sales, in any case...
I DO sincerely appreciate your recomendation to friends and family. And hope you enjoy the sequels to come.

Belladonna said...

I think of the battle scenes in Gone with the Wind and wonder how Margaret Mitchell would have described Ammon cutting off the arms of a bunch of bandits and then carrying that sack of bloody body parts to the king...

Word pictures are intriguing things. What YOU "see" in your mind when you are writing may not conjure up the same thing I "see" when I am reading.... but I think you have a key point in wanting your readers to FEEL the scope of the atrocity.

Haven't read your work yet, but it sounds intriguing... I'll have to look for it.

David J. West said...

Thanks Belladonna, true we all see things differently in our minds eye-I just want to share my vision (harsh as it may be) to the reader beyond what I saw as watered down presentations of earlier works by other writers.

On the plus side, I would say Fribergs painting 'Mormon Bids Farewell to the Nephite Nation' captured the grimness of Cumorah better than anybody-wish I could use that as a cover.

Belladonna said...

Hey David;
Tonight I saw the ORIGINAL Friberg painting 'Mormon Bids Farewell to the Nephite Nation' for the first time. I never realized that the version in the Book of Mormon and in the Gospel Art Kit CROPPED the bottom off. Seeing it as the artist intended was powerful. You are right. It would make a great cover!

David J. West said...

Belladonna - I have a great story about that. A couple years ago, the whole family took the tour around the Conference center and viewed the big Friberg originals. My oldest, who was only about 3 at the time was somewhat aware of what most all the painting portrayed, he especially recognized Jesus and he liked the swords of Ammon, Lehi and the Liahona-my point is he was very happy and playful-until we got to Mormon Bids Farewell-he became incredibly somber and just stared and stared-then he said it was so sad.
The wonderful thing to me was-this was not something we had talked about-he just felt the spirit of the piece. It was incredibly inspirational to me and my wife.

Belladonna said...

Have you had a chance to take them to the showing at the BYU art museum? I have no idea where you are so I don't know if Provo is reasonable drive for you or not, but IMHO it's well worth a few hours drive. I got to see it last April when I went for Women's Conference. WOWZER!

David J. West said...

Belladonna-I'm really close to Provo (Pleasant Grove) so I ought to take a jaunt down there, its been awhile.