What compelled you to write a novel with Mormon Characters in it? It’s not the “in” thing to do in any market right now. Were you ever discouraged by the fact that there are so few opportunities to publish Mormon-themed fiction?
You are definitely correct about LDS-themed contemporary romance being a “niche” market. To my knowledge, there are only three publishing houses that will even look at LDS-specific fiction, and of those three, only two will publish contemporary LDS fiction. Yikes that’s a tough sell! In the beginning, I was discouraged about having so few opportunities to publish what I write. But I I also knew these stories came to me for a reason, and I knew I had to do my best to write them. I think it is very important for readers to be able to see themselves in works of fiction, and this includes members of the church. I may be writing in a small market, but it is a warm and supportive group of readers. I feel incredibly blessed to write what I write, and to have the readers I have. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Do you have any advice or lessons for other writers who have an interest in composing Mormon-themed works?
This is great question! My first piece of advice for aspiring authors who want to write fiction centered around characters who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ would be to write about issues that members are currently facing, and to not shy away from tough subjects: judging, comparing, trying to do it all, pornography, infertility, faith crisis, calling struggles, marriage, family, etc. My second bit of advice is to make sure you know your audience. If you are writing specifically for an LDS audience, make sure you aren’t talking-down to readers. When I was a newbie writer, I found that I was often trying to explain church-vernacular. I quickly realized, however, that my audience was already familiar with the gospel and all of its peculiar lingo—no explanation was necessary. My final advice is to, read, read, read. Become an expert on what is being published in this genre, be familiar with what church leaders are focusing talks on, and what is being discussed within the church circles. People want to read romance to fall in love, but they also read because they want to understand the world in which they live.
What themes do you feel like you can explore and talk about writing religious fiction that you can’t in works that avoid spiritual themes?
Members of the church who read fiction want to be able to see themselves in books. While non-denominational Christian Fiction comes really, really close, the lens which members of the church view their lives through color every single aspect of life. From our family structures, to how we spend our free time, to what we do and do not eat or do on Sunday or wear . . . it’s all very unique. When I write LDS-specific fiction, I’m exploring the world in which I live. I hope this is also true for my readers. I have been able to explore spiritual themes such mixed-faith relationships, pornography, word of wisdom issues, infertility, and abuse. I don’t feel like I could explore these themes at quite the same level if I weren’t writing LDS-specific fiction.
What are your favorite novels with spiritual themes and what about them inspired you to tackle the Mormon novel?
I have many, many favorite LDS-themed novels, but here are a few of my favorites:
The List by Melanie Jacobson. This was the first LDS-themed novel I have ever read, and I loved it so much! It’s a fun book with a few surprises that kept me on my toes. Another favorite book of mine is Becoming Bayley by Susan Auten. This one has slightly deeper themes, but is perfectly appropriate for young women. Two more must-read books for me are The Weight of Love by Jolene Perry and Mismatched in Love which is also by Jolene Perry. Both of these books made me fall completely in love, and I’ve read them again and again. All of these books are available as eBooks on through Amazon.
What I loved about each of these novels was the feeling of being understood. I was able to connect and relate with the characters in these novels because I shared the same religious belief system, and consequently many of the same values and thought processes, as me. In the end, each one of these books helped me to better understand myself and the world in which I live. That’s one of the greatest beauties of fiction, don’t you think?
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Tiffany Odekirk 🙂