I'll be coming home to Utah in September to read and discuss my new novel, Torn by God: A Family's Struggle with Polygamy.
The first event will be at The Book Cellar in St. George on Thursday, September 24th at 6 pm
The next day we'll drive up to Salt Lake City for an event at The King's English Bookshop
on Saturday, September 26th at 2 pm.
I was born in September, and it's my favorite time of year in Utah, with the trees taking on their rich fall colors, the temperatures warm during the day, but cool at night, the air full of sage and the early phase of composting leaves.
Most of my family still lives in Utah, as do many old friends. I have such rich memories of my life there. Those memories inspire most of what I write. Strange to come all this way to California, live here for more than twenty years, and still find my mind returning to Utah when I sit down to write my stories. Maybe I'm still under the influence of those lazy summer days wandering the trails down by the creek that ran behind our house, or lying on the warm granite rocks and splashing in the cool water that came down from the mountains.
That creek is a fundamental element in Torn by God.
The story begins there with the father's vision, and it's the place everyone runs to when they need to get away from the trouble at home brought on by the father's involvement with polygamy. A stream can be calm and serene, or wild and chaotic. It can represent chaos or serenity, innocence or knowledge.
Thinking about that small Mormon town where I grew up brings a mix of emotions. In many ways it was an ideal place to live. The rural environment gave us kids lots of room to explore. And there were always so many things to do, with the Church at the center of it all. There was primary, mutual, and Sunday school. Softball games, dances, buffets, and theater productions, as well as 4th of July celebrations and Christmas pageants. What else could you ask for?
Then, came the trouble. It showed in my mother's eyes. I think she tried to hide it, because I only caught sight of it now and then, like that day I found her crying in the bathroom with a towel over her head. I learned more later when I read her journals, but that was after she was already gone and there was nothing that could be done to help her. I was a child when it happened. What could I do? I barely knew what my father was up to. But much of that was revealed in his journal which I read after he died: his obsession with seeing God, his confusion about whether or not he had to live the divine law of polygamy if he was to become a god himself.
You might say it was the missing memories that caused me to write Torn by God. The missing information behind my mother's sad face. I wanted to understand her. And I wanted to understand my father too. I wanted to comprehend his willingness to hurt my mother. I wanted to know what was at stake for him.
I came to understand many things while writing my book, and I will be discussing the things I learned when I come back to Utah. I expect those who attend the events at The Book Cellar in St. George and at The King's English in Salt Lake will have much to contribute to that discussion.
I look forward to seeing you and hearing your thoughts.