Stephenie Meyer, Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, Shannon Hale, Tracy Hickman, Janette Rallison, Brandon Mull, Jessica Day George, James Dashner, Mette Harrison, Lindsey Leavitt, and more that I’ve forgotten. It seems as if there are many Mormon (short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Not an acronym, but a long story) SF/F YA authors.
First off let me be clear, I am not trying to convert or push specific beliefs on anyone. However, some of you know I’m Mormon. All of you know I write. A few of you know I like to write and read MG and YA fantasy, or at least ones with fantastical elements. And it’s curious to me that people of my faith choose to write in fantasy, specifically young adult fantasy.
My Tai chi teacher (not Mormon) teases me that it’s because we’re more open to believing in the extraordinary. He’s teasing that he thinks we’re easily deluded. While I laugh good-naturedly at the joke, I think he might have something there. We are encouraged to be a creative people and to develop our talents. We also DO believe in things fantastical. We believe the church was restored through God the Father and his son Jesus Christ to a boy prophet and that scripture of the ancient people on the North American continent was held in reserve to be translated by that boy. We believe in old and living prophets, miracles, priesthood ministry, and a pre-mortal life—all topics hard to fathom.
A year and a half ago, The Boston Globe wrote an article on what they called a “surge” of Mormons publishing in young adult literature. (You can read the article here.) The article mentions how many writers are drawn to writing books for younger audiences, especially fantasies. They speculate Mormons are attracted to younger books because they are generally cleaner. (If we’re talking MG I’d agree, but YA as a whole doesn’t really have any boundaries that coincide with mine.) Another reason they give is that we are a family and child-centered organization and want to create more books kids would read. (Maybe that has some weight… then again many religions feel the same.)
The truth is I’m not convinced there is a high trend of Mormons than there is of any other religion publishing right now. YA alone is seeing a surge of writers independent of an author’s profile. There are almost 14 million Mormons but I couldn’t tell you the percentage that write books no more than I know how many Lutherans or atheists do.
What I think prompts the appearance of a lot of Mormon authors in YA is the prominence of a few in the last decade (Ahem… Stephenie Meyer). And kind of like everyone making a big deal about JFK being Catholic when he was elected president, a religion different than what’s been seen in that profession in the past is one that will make the news. Then again, I could be wrong, I often am. :)
I’d love to hear what you think, whether you agree with me or whether you have other thoughts concerning ANY spiritual persuasion creating a preference in writing genre. (NOTE: Please be respectful of every visitor’s feelings, though! We are talking religion here, something not discussed without deep emotions.)