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Q&A with Scott Hales for The Garden of Enid, Part 2 February 02 2017

169 pages

Paperback $22.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-563-8)


Pre-Order Your Copy Today

 

What are some of the themes that pop up in part 2?

As I was writing The Garden of Enid, I was interested in unpacking ideas about faith, history, human connection, and truth. Part two is especially interested in truth—one of the slipperiest words in language and Mormonism. For much of the book, Enid is trying to anchor herself to some kind of monolithic notion of truth. She wants to finds something stable in the universe, but she finds that the closer she thinks she gets to monolithic truth, the less monolithic it appears.

I think her journey encourages readers to reflect on the value of truth and how they want it to function in their own lives. 

 

Cameos played a big role in part 1. Who are some of the cameos that we can expect in part 2?

Joseph Smith continues to make cameos in part two, as do Eliza R. Snow, Evan Stephens, and the Book of Abraham mummy. Enid also talks with people like Jane Austen, Karl Maeser, Doctor Philastus Hurlbut, Charles Anthon, George A. Smith, and Juanita Brooks. The lost 116 pages and Joanna Brooks’ Book of Mormon Girl also make appearances.

Some of my favorite cameos in part two involve fictional or mythological figures from pop culture. Enid talks with Matt and Mandy from The Friend magazine, Big Foot, and Charlie Brown.

The most significant cameo in the book, however, is the late Mormon scholar Eugene England, who dresses like the Angel Moroni and acts like Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Unlike other cameo characters, who always show up in simple four-panel comics, Eugene takes Enid on a five-page odyssey through space and time, belief and doubt.

 

How does her relationship with her mother develop in part 2?

The relationship becomes much rockier in part two. Enid looks to her mother’s past for answers about her own identity, but she often goes about it the wrong way. She and her mother have a traumatic falling out, and much of the book is about what happens after their relationship hits the fan. In both books, Enid struggles to see her mother as a real person, which causes her to say and do hurtful things to her mother. In part two, things go from bad to worse, but they also get better in unforeseen ways.

 

What do you think Enid learns about herself in part 2?

At the end of part one, Enid begins to see herself as someone who is capable of having meaningful relationships with other people. In part two, she learns that cultivating such relationships makes her vulnerable to the raw emotions that define human experience. This make her a much more awkward and vulnerable character than the weird Mormon girl we saw in part one, but it also makes her more endearing and relatable. Her heart gets much bigger in part two.

 

What are some of the challenges you have felt in writing this story?

Writing Enid’s story rarely felt like a challenge. Perhaps my biggest challenge was never letting my natural reserve get in the way of her audacity. Enid and I share many of the same interests, but we have different temperaments. Maybe that’s why I found her story so easy to write.

Of course, many of the comics touch on controversies within Mormonism, and addressing them with sensitivity was sometimes a challenge. Some satirists like to aggravate wounds, but my satire is meant to sting like antiseptic.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from Enid’s life?

I hope people will read Enid and decide to stop being sucky to each other. In other words, I hope Enid’s life brings about world peace and better music on the radio.

I also hope people will read Enid and be inspired to tell stories of their own. Mormonism is an inexhaustible landscape for creative people. I hope better writers and artists than me will read Enid and want to draw on their own experiences with Mormonism to tell stories that enrich our understanding of and appreciation for the Mormon landscape.

 

Will there be a part 3? There has to be a part 3. I mean, there really, really has to be a part 3.

Part three is always a possibility. I have an idea for a comic about Enid’s last summer before she goes to college. The Garden of Enid has always unfolded in real time, however, and I don’t know if I have the time this summer to do that with this story. I’ll probably start drawing it anyway to see where it goes. If I end up showing Enid as a freshman in college, so be it. I’m sure it will be awkward.

But I don’t plan to start a part three until I finish my current serial comic, Chronicles of Wyler, which is a kind of spin-off prequel to The Garden of Enid. Readers of The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Girl, Part One know Wyler from Enid’s EFY experience. Chronicles of Wyler tells the story, more or less, of how Wyler got to EFY. I’m almost finished with it, but one Wyler comic takes about three times longer to draw than an Enid comic—and I have much less time to devote to it than I had when I was drawing Enid comics all the time.

Chronicles of Wyler is a different reading experience than The Garden of Enid, and has a much smaller fan base, but I think readers who like Enid will like Wyler’s story as well.

 

Pre-Order Your Copy Today


On the twelfth day of Kofford: $1.99 flash sale on Kindle e-books! December 12 2016

On the twelfth day of Kofford, fill your digital stockings with our HUGE e-book promotion. Today only, each of the following titles are only $1.99 on Kindle! PLUS, to help you prepare for the upcoming D&C year in Gospel Doctrine class, we are offering B. H. Robert's classic six-volume A Comprehensive History of the Church on Kindle for only $3.99!

This flash sale ends at midnight tonight (Dec. 12th)

 

 As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture
Edited by Julie M. Smith

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
by Adam S. Miller

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd J. Petersen

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

The Man behind the Discourse: A Biography of King Follett
by Joann Follett Mortensen

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
by Charles Shiro Inouye

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

 

“Swell Suffering”: A Biography of Maurine Whipple
by Veda Tebbs Hale

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Discourses in Mormon Theology: Philosophical and Theological Possibilities
by James M. McLachlan; Edited by Loyd Ericson

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

“let the earth bring forth”: Evolution and Scripture
by Howard H. Stutz

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Villages on Wheels: A Social History of the Gathering to Zion
by Stanley B. Kimball

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

The Mormoness; Or the Trials of Mary Maverick: A Narrative of Real Events
by John Russell; Edited and annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Century One (All 6 Volumes)
by B. H. Roberts

$3.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 


On the tenth day of Kofford: 30% off war and peace titles! December 10 2016


War and peace titles are 30% off December 10th. These special prices are only available for one day, so don't wait!

To get the 30% discount, simply enter the code PEACEONEARTH (all caps) in the discount code box at check-out.


Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Also, local Utah customers can opt to pick up their order directly from our office in Sandy (select this option under the shipping menu). 

For more information about the Twelve Days of Kofford holiday sales, click here.

War & Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives
Edited by Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97

Even unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
by Duane Boyce

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
by Charles Shirō Inouye

Retail: $13.95
Sale price: $9.77

Saints of Valor: Mormon Medal of Honor Recipients, Updated 2nd Edition
by Sherman L. Fleek

Retail: $31.95
Sale price: $22.37


On the eighth day of Kofford: 30% contemporary issues titles! December 08 2016


All contemporary issues titles are 30% off December 8th. These special prices are only available for one day, so don't wait!

To get the 30% discount, simply enter the code GOODWILL (all caps) in the discount code box at check-out.


Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Also, local Utah customers can opt to pick up their order directly from our office in Sandy (select this option under the shipping menu). 

For more information about the Twelve Days of Kofford holiday sales, click here.

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
by Neylan McBaine

Retail: $21.95
Sale price: $15.37

Common Ground—Different Opinions: Latter-day Saints and Contemporary Issues
Edited by Justin F. White and James E. Faulconer

Retail: $31.95
Sale price: $22.37

The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

Retail: $22.95
Sale price: $16.07

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Anderson

Retail: $32.95
Sale price: $23.07


On the sixth day of Kofford: 30% off international Mormon studies titles! December 06 2016


All international Mormon studies titles are 30% off December 6th. These special prices are only available for one day, so don't wait!

To get the 30% discount, simply enter the code ALLTHEWORLD (all caps) in the discount code box at check-out.


Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Also, local Utah customers can opt to pick up their order directly from our office in Sandy (select this option under the shipping menu). 

For more information about the Twelve Days of Kofford holiday sales, click here.

The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901–1968
by Shinji Takagi

Retail: $39.95
Sale price: $27.97

Mormon and Maori
by Marjorie Newton

Retail: $24.95
Sale price: $17.47

Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association

Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958
by Marjorie Newton

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97

Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013
by Russell W. Stevenson

Retail: $32.95
Sale price: $23.07

Best Book Award, Mormon History Association

The History of the Mormons in Argentina
by Néstor Curbelo

Retail: $24.95
Sale price: $17.47

From Above and Below: The Mormon Embrace of Revolution, 1840 – 1940
by Craig Livingston

Retail: $34.95
Sale price: $24.47

Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association


On the third day of Kofford: 30% off personal essay titles! December 03 2016


All personal essay titles are 30% off on December 3rd. These special prices are only available for one day, so don't wait!

To get the 30% discount, simply enter the code OURSTORIES (all caps) in the discount code box at check-out.


Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Also, local Utah customers can opt to pick up their order directly from our office in Sandy (select this option under the shipping menu). 

For more information about the Twelve Days of Kofford holiday sales, click here.

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd Jay Petersen

Retail: $22.95
Sale price: $16.07

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

Retail: $20.95
Sale price: $14.67

Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
by Jack Harrell

Retail: $18.95
Sale price: $13.27


Twelve Days of Kofford Christmas Sale 2016 November 30 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM GREG KOFFORD BOOKS

Greg Kofford Books is pleased to announce our annual holiday sale on select popular titles beginning December 1st – December 12th.

Here's how it works: at the stroke of midnight each day, a new blog post will go live on our website listing that day's special offerings along with a discount code that you can enter at check-out to get the holiday price. It's that simple. We will also be posting the daily offering and discount code on our Facebook page at 7am.

*Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping (continental U.S. customers only). Local Utah customers can stop by our office in Sandy to pick up their orders as well. Holiday inventory on some titles may be limited, so be sure to take advantage of the daily sale early.*

To help you plan in advance, here are our scheduled sales:

Day 1 — Brant Gardner titles

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon series
by Brant A. Gardner


30% off each title

The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon
by Brant A Gardner
Retail: $34.95
Sale price: $24.47

Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
by Brant A Gardner
Retail: $34.95
Sale price: $24.47

Best Religious Non-fiction Award, Association for Mormon Letters

 

Day 2 — Adam Miller titles (essays in Mormon theology)

Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
by Adam S. Miller

Retail $18.95
Sale price: $13.27

Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology
by Adam S. Miller

Retail: $18.95
Sale price: $13.27

 

Day 3 — Personal Essays

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd Jay Petersen

Retail: $22.95
Sale price: $16.07

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

Retail: $20.95
Sale price: $14.67

Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
by Jack Harrell

Retail: $18.95
Sale price: $13.27


Day 4 — Blake T. Ostler titles

Exploring Mormon Thought series
by Blake T. Ostler

30% off each title

Fire on the Horizon: A Meditation on the Endowment and Love of Atonement
by Blake T. Ostler

Retail: $17.95
Sale price: $12.57


Day 5 — Contemporary Studies in Scripture

Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis — Deuteronomy
by David Bokovoy

Retail: $26.95
Sale price: $18.87

Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem
by Michael Austin

Retail: $20.95
Sale price: $14.67

Search, Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels
by Julie M. Smith

Retail: $27.95
Sale price: $19.57

Beholding the Tree of Life: A Rabbinic Approach to the Book of Mormon
by Bradley J. Kramer

Retail: $21.95
Sale price: $15.37

The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi's Record
by Joseph M. Spencer

Retail: $25.95
Sale price: $18.17

 
Day 6 — International Mormonism

The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901–1968
by Shinji Takagi

Retail: $39.95
Sale price: $27.97

Mormon and Maori
by Marjorie Newton

Retail: $24.95
Sale price: $17.47

Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association

Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958
by Marjorie Newton

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97

Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013
by Russell W. Stevenson

Retail: $32.95
Sale price: $23.07

Best Book Award, Mormon History Association

The History of the Mormons in Argentina
by Néstor Curbelo

Retail: $24.95
Sale price: $17.47

From Above and Below: The Mormon Embrace of Revolution, 1840 – 1940
by Craig Livingston

Retail: $34.95
Sale price: $24.47

Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association


Day 7 — Polygamy titles

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History and Theology
by Brian C. Hales

Now in paperback!

30% off each title

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
by Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

Retail: $19.95
Sale price: $13.97

Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto
by Brian C. Hales

Retail: $31.95
Sale price: $22.37

Best Book Award, John Whitmer Historical Association

Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle
by Jessie L. Embry

Retail: $24.95
Sale price: $17.47

Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884–87
by Stan Larson

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97


Day 8 — Contemporary Issues

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
by Neylan McBaine

Retail: $21.95
Sale price: $15.37

Common Ground—Different Opinions: Latter-day Saints and Contemporary Issues
Edited by Justin F. White and James E. Faulconer

Retail: $31.95
Sale price: $22.37

The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

Retail: $22.95
Sale price: $16.07

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd

Retail: $32.95
Sale price: $23.07


Day 9 — Biography

Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life
by Boyd Jay Petersen

Retail: $32.95
Sale price: $23.07

Best Biography Award, Mormon History Association

“Swell Suffering”: A Biography of Maurine Whipple
by Veda Tebbs Hale

Retail: $31.95
Sale price: $22.37

Best Biography Award, Mormon History Association

William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet
by Kyle R. Walker

Retail: $39.95
Sale price: $27.97

Best Biography Award, John Whitmer Historical Association

The Man Behind the Discourse: A Biography of King Follett
by Joann Follett Mortensen

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97


Day 10 — War and Peace

War & Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives
Edited by Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97

Even unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
by Duane Boyce

Retail: $29.95
Sale price: $20.97

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
by Charles Shirō Inouye

Retail: $13.95
Sale price: $9.77

Saints of Valor: Mormon Medal of Honor Recipients, Updated 2nd Edition
by Sherman L. Fleek

Retail: $31.95
Sale price: $22.37


Day 11 — Mormon Image in Literature

The Mormoness; Or, The Trials Of Mary Maverick: A Narrative Of Real Events
by John Russell
Edited and Annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

Retail: $12.95
Sale price: $9.07

Boadicea; the Mormon Wife: Life Scenes in Utah
by Alfreda Eva Bell
Edited and Annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

Retail: $15.95
Sale price: $11.17

 

Day 12 — Ebook Flash Sale — $1.99 for select titles

To be announced. Stay tuned!


Q&A with Jack Harrell, author of Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism May 30 2016

by Jack Harrell
156 pages

Paperback $18.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-754-0)


Pre-order your copy today.

 

Can you name a few writers who have had the greatest influence on you? What draws you to their work?

My favorite writer is Flannery O’Connor. Her fiction is fantastic, and her essays and letters on writing are full of insight and humor. Back in 1994, at Illinois State University, I did my master’s thesis on her novel Wise Blood. Her work speaks to a lot of Mormons because she’s unapologetic about her Catholic faith. Though her writings are obviously religious, she doesn’t slip into oversimplification or didacticism. And plenty of readers who aren’t religious find satisfaction and meaning in her work. Her writing works on a number of levels. I also appreciate writers like Wallace Stegner, Raymond Carver, and Willa Cather.

Among Mormon writers, Levi Peterson is very important, I think—a must-read. And I think any Mormon interested in good writing should read Virginia Sorensen’s 1963 story collection Where Nothing is Long Ago: Memories of a Mormon Childhood.

I’m drawn to small-town characters and settings in the contemporary West and the Midwest, probably because that’s the world I know best. That’s what I’m interested in writing about, too—telling the stories of ordinary folks in these small towns. 

Lately I’ve been reading contemporary philosophers amenable to a religious viewpoint. John Polkinghorne is one I like. He’s an Anglican priest and theologian with two PhDs in physics. I’ve also learned a great deal from the writings of Roger Scruton, especially from his books The Face of God, The Soul of the World, and Beauty.

The last book I read was a Greg Kofford publication: Future Mormon, by Adam S. Miller. It’s great to see a tradition of thoughtful scholarship continue among Latter-day Saints like Miller.

  

Some label the religious seeker as being on a quest for an epiphany. Can you discuss how epiphany in a spiritual sense is related to epiphany in a creative sense?

Long before James Joyce made it a literary term, the word “epiphany” was a religious term referring to some profound insight from the divine. I believe most religious people, no matter what their faith, seek communion with the divine, or just a connection with something beyond themselves. I think very few people would see the human race as the greatest force or power in the universe; and even if they do, they’d still admit those times when we reach for something greater within us. Isn’t this the quest of most art? To reach for something higher?

Of course, there are a few who would say, “There’s nothing great within us, nothing great beyond us. Therefore, art should express that. Art should be against epiphanies, against transcendence. Art should be being emphatically ugly because ugliness and entropy is all we have.” But that’s a pretty rare position to take, and pretty cynical too.

It seems to me that the very act of creation is rooted in a desire to make something outside of ourselves that expresses what we see or feel within. Maybe every artist is just trying to meet himself or herself, trying to understand and recognize what’s there.

 

In the sixth chapter, you discuss teaching students to write. You mention the Mormon “struggle to tell the truth.” Why do Mormons struggle with superficiality in their writing?

It’s not just a Mormon struggle. It’s human nature to fall back on easy answers and struggle to tell the truth. We’re all guilty of horizontal thinking: worrying about what the person next door thinks rather than doing what we know to be true. Honesty with ourselves is a normal human struggle too. We all create fictions to justify the way we live and the way we see the world. Some of the lies we tell emerge from our good intentions. We just don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

It’s the same with Mormons. We don’t want to hurt people, we’re worried about what our neighbors think, and we want to keep things pleasant. But life isn’t always pleasant. Conflict is at the heart of meaningful stories. If we avoid conflict, we hamstring good stories. The scriptures are full of conflicts. Church history isn’t the simple story that some once thought it to be. There are all kinds of complex layers at work in the scriptures and in Church history and in all our lives.

I think, more and more, we’re going to see that easy answers don’t cut it. We need to face complexities, not avoid them. As the teachings of the Church grow more at odds with secular society, we’re going to have to embrace the complexities of our own position in order to survive. This involves telling the truth.

One of the central messages of Mormonism is that at the potential for redemption is at the center of our existence. The need for redemption assumes that some kind of fall or loss came first. That’s a level of complexity right there—much more than simply saying “the universe is essentially good.” Fall and redemption transcend superficiality every time.

 

Can you give your take on what makes literature virtuous or praiseworthy?

Yes, I talk about this in an essay on the 13th Article of Faith and how it can be a standard for judging literature.

The root of the word “virtue,” means “manliness,” or, as we’d put it today, “strength.” Implied in that word are concepts like “integrity,” “vigor,” and “power.” In Mormon culture the word “virtue” has become nearly synonymous with “chastity.” Chastity is one aspect of virtue, but the meaning of that word is much broader. I’d say a virtuous book is one that’s powerful, meaningful, and truthful. 

“Praiseworthy,” simply means worthy of praise. In that sense, literature that gets good reviews from those who really know what they’re talking about can be called praiseworthy. A reader has to think critically about the praise that comes from someone who simply wants to boost sales, regardless of the quality of the work. The 13th Article of Faith provides a great standard for measuring all these things.

 

You state that Mormon fiction tends to be “essentially positive in its outlook,” can you summarize why and how that might be a stumbling block towards greater authenticity?

Philosophically, I don’t think an essentially positive outlook is a stumbling block to authenticity. I’d say the same is true in a Mormon theological context as well. In the Mormon view of existence, there is always the potential for a positive outlook, and a positive outcome, because of the atonement. The catch comes when moral agency is introduced. Every child of God can potentially be saved and exalted, but not everyone will, because of agency, because of the way we each can use or misuse our agency.

Maybe it’s this business of agency that introduces a stumbling block to authenticity. When a writer forces a tidy resolution on a character or story, that’s a violation of the “agency,” if you will, of the characters in the story. Another stumbling block arises when a writer approaches the subject matter with a kind of oversimplified “all is well” outlook.

I think the Mormon writer who really understands the depths of Mormonism itself will take a more complex view on writing and of the world. That’s one of the recurring arguments I make in the book, that if we really understand a live our faith, we’ll solve a lot of the problems that lead to bad art.

 

Mormon writers seem to do well in science fiction and fantasy genres, but struggle in general fiction. Why do you think that is; and in what ways can Mormonism can add a unique voice to general fiction?

I think one factor has to do with language and content. Often a person can write (or read) a science fiction or fantasy novel without dealing with the challenges of vulgar language and sexual scenes. Certainly this isn’t true of all sci-fi/fantasy. But it’s easier to choose authors who don’t go there.

In the mainstream literary genre, sex and language have become pretty common. There’s a reason for this. In the twentieth century, literary fiction grew more transparent about representing the daily lives of ordinary people. People have sex, people swear, and contemporary fictions doesn’t shy away from that. I’m not saying this is a good thing. It’s just the way it is.

I do think that contemporary culture is more vulgar, more irreverent, less sensitive. The Greek root of the word “aesthetic” means “sensitive.” Contrast that word with the word “anesthetic,” which means “the loss of feeling.” Contemporary culture may want to boast that everything is “out there,” that nothing is taboo. And certainly there’s virtue in openness. But we have to be careful. People who go too far into irreverence and subversion might find that they lose something in the bargain.

The language and content factor may not be the reason Mormon writers shy away from general, literary fiction. That’s just a supposition on my part because I really don’t know the answer. I just know that I care more about the problems of a school bus driver living in Rigby, Idaho, than I care about the war between the Ledmendons and the Allickakakials on Zarnack 5.* 

Honestly, I think general, literary fiction invites a more thoughtful and measured tone. No one listens to NPR because they want caustic, sensational commentary. Recently l read a great literary novel by Marilynne Robinson, a novel about a Midwestern pastor’s last words to his young son, whom he fathered late in life. The novel is very real about the lives it depicts, but there’s nothing there that would scandalize your grandmother. I’d love to see more novels by Mormons about real Mormons with the meaningful problems that I see every day in my own life and in the lives of those around me. The stories are there, waiting to be told.

And this may not be about writers at all. It may be a reflection of the readers. Could it be that Mormon writers gravitate toward speculative fiction primarily because that’s what sells?

It’s hard to fault writers who want to sell books and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen.

* Editorial note: Greg Kofford Books wishes to apologize to any residents of Zarnack 5 who may find offense in the author's disregard for the ongoing struggles between the Ledmendons and Allickakakials.


Year in Review and the Year Ahead December 29 2015

2015 was another amazing year for Greg Kofford Books! Here is a recap of the year and a look ahead to what is coming in 2016 and beyond.

Award-winning Publications

Several Kofford titles won awards from the Mormon History Association and the Association for Mormon Letters in 2015:

MHA Best Book Award

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013
By Russell W. Stevenson
$66.95 hardcover
$32.95 paperback

“Invaluable as a historical resource.” Terryl L. Givens, author of Parley P.
Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism
 and By the Hand of Mormon: The
American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion

MHA Best International Book Award

Mormon and Maori
By Marjorie Newton
$24.95 paperback

“Unflinchingly honest yet unfailingly compassionate.” — Grant Underwood,
Professor of History at Brigham Young University

AML Religious Non-Fiction Award

Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem
By Michael Austin
$50.00 hardcover
$20.95 paperback

“A new gold standard for Mormon writings.” — Julie M. Smith, author, Search,
Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels

 

All 2015 Titles

Here are all of the great titles that Greg Kofford Books published this past year:

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
By Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Published January, 2015
$20.95 paperback

“Vibrant portraits of a kind and loving soul.” — Boyd J. Peterson, author of
Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and
Family

Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Scriptural Theology      
Edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer
Published February, 2015
$59.95 hardcover
$24.95 paperback

Each essay takes up the relatively un-self-conscious work of reading a
scriptural text but then—at some point or another—asks the self-conscious
question of exactly what she or he is doing in the work of reading scripture.

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
By Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales
Published April, 2015
$19.95 paperback

“It is a book that will be read and discussed for years to come.” — Robert L.
Millet, Professor Emeritus of Religious Education, Brigham Young University 

Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
By Duane Boyce
Published May, 2015
$29.95 paperback 

“Indispensable for all future Mormon discussions of the subject.” — Daniel C.
Peterson, editor of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture

William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet
By Kyle R. Walker
Published June, 2015
$69.95 hardcover
$39.95 paperback

“Walker’s biography will become essential reading.” — Mark Staker, author of
the award-winning Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph
Smith’s Ohio Revelations

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd
Published July, 2015
$32.95 paperback

“Timely, incisive, important.” — Joanna Brooks, co-editor of Mormon
Feminism: Essential Writings
and author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A
Memoir of an American Faith

Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
By Brant A. Gardner
Published August, 2015
$34.95 paperback

“Illuminating, prismatic views of the Book of Mormon.” — Mark Alan Wright,
Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and
Associate Editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

 

Looking Ahead at 2016 and Beyond

Here are a few eagerly-anticipated titles currently scheduled for the first part of 2016 and a look at what is in the works for the future:

The Mormon Image in Literature Series
Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall, series editors

The Mormoness; Or, The Trials Of Mary Maverick: A Narrative Of Real Events
By John Russell, edited and annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall
Available January 26, 2016. Pre-order your copy today!
$12.95 paperback

Published in 1853, the first American novel about the Mormons is also one of
the best. John Russell, an Illinois journalist and educator, witnessed the
persecution in Missouri and Illinois and generally sympathized with the Saints.
The Mormoness tells the story of Mary Maverick, the heroine of the novel,
who joined the Mormon Church when her husband was converted in Illinois.
Though not initially a believer, Mary embraces her identity as “the
Mormoness” when her husband and son are killed in a Haun’s Mill-like
massacre–and at the end of the novel, she must find a way to forgive the
killer.

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shirō Inouye 
Available February 16, 2016. Pre-order your copy today!
$13.95 paperback

Environmental decline, political gridlock, war and rumors of war, decadence,
and immorality. The End of the World, Plan B traces the idea of the end, or
destruction, of the world through a number of spiritual traditions. It shows that
our present understanding of the “end game” has been distorted by a modern
emphasis and demand on justice as the ultimate good. As an alternative to
this self-destructive approach, Charles Shirō Inouye shows that in these
traditions, justice is not the isolated end in itself that we ought strive for; rather
it is taught in tandem with its balancing companion: compassion. Plan B is a
hopeful alternative to our fears about how things are going.

 

Also forthcoming...

More volumes are in the works for our The Mormon Image in Literature, Contemporary Studies in Scripture, and Perspectives on Mormon Theology series.

Saints, Slaves, and Blacks by Newell G. Bringhurst, revised and updated

Lot Smith: Utah Hero, Arizona Colonizer by Carmen Smith and Talana Hooper

The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901-1968 by Shinji Takagi

Science the Key to Theology by Steven L. Peck

And much, much more...

Thank you for making 2015 exceptional and we are excited about 2016!

 

 

 

 

 


20% Off Sale on Women's Issues Books October 27 2015

With the recently published essays approved by the LDS Church on the topics of women and priesthood and the doctrine of Heavenly Mother, now would be a great time to read up on the conversations surrounding women in Mormonism.

Greg Kofford Books is pleased to offer 20% off the following titles beginning today through November 3rd when you type "ESSAYS" in the discount code box at checkout.

 

Mormon Women Have Their Say
Edited by Claudia L. Bushman and Caroline Kline

Sale Price: $25.56 + tax, paperback
(enter the word "ESSAYS" in the discount box at checkout)

From Claudia Bushman: Throughout the tangled past of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, women have been active and vocal participants. Their journals and diaries, primarily from the nineteenth century, have been plumbed for evidence of their experience and attitudes. Less is known and written about contemporary Mormon women. LDS women today still live in a patriarchal society. What is it like for them? How to they respond to the Church they have joined or inherited? Can they make space for their interests? How do they envision their contemporary role in the Church? What are the issues that define their lives? Writing our own stories empower us. Many of these narrators do not normally speak out. This project preserves and perpetuates their voices and memories. The silent majority goes on record.

In light of the Gospel Topic essay "Mother in Heaven," readers would find the chapter, "Heavenly Mother," interesting as it explores the views and feelings of contemporary LDS women on this important theological topic.

Praise for Mormon Women Have Their Say:

“Mormon women have always had a lot to say, but generation after generation, their voices fade away. The problem is not just that archives and manuals favor the writings of male leaders. The real problem is that few of us know how to listen to seemingly common stories. We revere our sisters but don’t understand them. The essays in this volume go beyond collecting and preserving to the hard work of interpretation.” — Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, author of Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
By Neylan McBaine

Sale Price: $17.56 + tax, paperback
(enter the word "ESSAYS" in the discount box at checkout)

From Neylan McBaine: This book is predicated on a single belief: that there is much more we can do to see, hear, and include women at church. In an effort to increase awareness of that belief and move all Church members to act on it, I have written this book as an inducement toward greater empathy for those who feel unseen, unheard, and unused, and a strategic guide to improving our gender cooperation in local Church governance. This book is for men and women who either are themselves engaged in this wrestle or know someone who is. It is for women who have been sitting on the sidelines of the media conversation around Mormon women, not sure where they fit or what they feel, but they resonate with at least some of what has been said. It is for the women who can't understand why someone would be discontent in the light of our glorious doctrine, but whose daughter or sister or friend or Relief Society sister may not be feeling so at ease.

Praise for Women at Church:

A pivotal work replete with wisdom and insight. Neylan McBaine deftly outlines a workable programme for facilitating movement in the direction of the ‘privileges and powers’ promised the nascent Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.” — Fiona Givens, co-author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd

Sale Price: $26.36 + tax, paperback
(enter the word "ESSAYS" in the discount box at checkout)

From Lavina Fielding Anderson: In larger Mormon society, I consider this book to be a third voice in an intensifying conversation. The first voice was that of Sheri Dew, president and CEO of Deseret Book, spelling out her position in Women and the Priesthood. The second voice followed a year later with the appearance of Neylan McBaine's Women at Church: Magnifying Women's Local Impact. This book, Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism, is the third book in as many years to explore this disquieting, yet immensely significant topic. Broader in scope than either Dew or McBaine's works, it is data driven, using a combination of sociological and historical analysis, political and theological explorations, and sometimes wrenching personal experiences.

Praise for Voices for Equality:

"In these pages, some of Mormonism's finest researchers and thinkers bring a richness of historical and scholarly perspective and a powerful new survey of tens of thousands of Mormon people to bear on headline-making issues like women's ordination, sister missionaries, church discipline, the internet and faith, and change in the LDS church. This book is a much needed mirror for our time.” — Joanna Brooks, co-editor of Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings and author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith

SALE ENDS 11-3-15


Q&A with Traditions of the Fathers Author Brant Gardner June 30 2015

by Brant A. Gardner

Approximately 590 pages

Paperback $34.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-665-9)

Pre-order your copy today.

Q: You've already commented extensively on the Book of Mormon, first in your multi-volume Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, and The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of MormonHow does this volume differ from these previous volumes? 

Brant: Second Witness was an attempt to provide a comprehensive commentary on the Book of Mormon that included multiple perspectives, including a historical context. There is so much in Second Witness, that only the most persistent reader could gain a chronological understanding of how the Book of Mormon fits into a particular time and place. Traditions of the Fathers concentrates on the story rather than the doctrine. It pulls together the history in a more compact and more easily readable form. It also includes information and insights available since the publication of Second Witness.

 

Q: There are many volumes dedicated to investigation and study of the Book of Mormon, including the questions of its historicity. What makes this book stand out from those?  

 Brant: Even the best of the previous volumes on the history and historicity of the Book of Mormon use somewhat of a shotgun approach to understanding the text. Some have had better aim, but the process has still been to rely heavily on proposed similarities--that sometimes are not that similar. Traditions of the Fathers looks more closely at tying together multiple types of information belonging to the same time and location, as well as providing some in-depth analysis of some previous suggestions that were more enthusiastic than correct. In addition, the intent of the book is not necessarily to provide proofs of the Book of Mormon, but rather to give it the kind of historical and cultural background that we have for the Old and New Testament. Understanding those historical and cultural contexts can deepen our understanding of the Bible, and the proper historical and cultural background for the Book of Mormon should similarly deepen our understanding.

 

Q: What is most valuable about this book for the believing Latter-day Saint? What is there to recommend it for the interested reader who is not a believing Latter-day Saint? 

Brant: The believing Latter-day Saint should begin to see the people and actions recounted in the Book of Mormon in new and more human ways. The characters and events of the Book of Mormon should become more real, and therefore we should be able to see our own humanity transformed in similar spiritual ways. For those who are not believing Latter-day Saints, Traditions of the Fathers can provide a way to understand why Latter-day Saints accept it as history, even when many assume that it doesn't seem similar to known populations. Those similarities and the way to see the Book of Mormon in history should be easier to understand.

 

Q: Can you give us an example or two of the work you do in teasing out the culture and context for where the Book of Mormon is said to take place? 

Brant: There are two important aspects to placing the Book of Mormon in time and space. The first is to find the right place, since the text provides the timeframe. Geography is only a first step to that determination. Other major factors deal with the people discussed in the text. For example, there is no direct communication between Jaredites and Nephites. There is the last king of the Jaredites who lives with the people in Zarahemla before the Nephites arrive. That tells us that there must be a physical separation between the original Nephite lands and those of the Jaredites.

Once there is a time and place, the culture of the area is compared to the events in the Book of Mormon to see if there are correspondences where the Book of Mormon is reflecting the culture or events at the appropriate times. That comparison leads to insights elaborated in Traditions of the Fathers about why Nephi's people wanted a king, why Mosiah fled at the time he did (and in the direction he did), why Mormon is so interested in the Gadiatons, and why the Nephite final battle occurred when it did and not earlier (or later).

 

Q: What are some of the ways of discussing the Book of Mormon and historicity that you find are not helpful or are even detrimental? 

Brant: When the approach to discussing Book of Mormon historicity doesn't have sufficient controls on the evidence presented, it is too easily dismissed. It is also dangerous when believers start to base testimonies on fundamentally flawed approaches.

 

Q: How might you describe the current state of Book of Mormon studies? What do you hope to see in the future? 

Brant: This is a very interesting time for Book of Mormon studies. There are a wider number of serious studies looking at a larger number of aspects of the text. The work on the critical text of the Book of Mormon helps answer some simple questions that help understand certain confusions. The work on poetic and other literary features of the text look at it in new ways. There are new aids in deepening our understanding of the theology behind the text. There are studies looking at the place of the Book of Mormon in our own modern history. We are seeing more and better correlations between the text and the ever-increasing amount of information coming from archaeology and history, both in the Old and New Worlds.

The future should see a continued expansion of and refinement of all of these fields. Personally, I'd love to see a continued shift away from attempts to prove the Book of Mormon to better understanding the Book of Mormon--to see it in history not to prove what only spiritual witness can prove, but to bolster that spiritual witness by better understanding the real people who lived the lives behind the Book of Mormon stories.

 

Pre-order your copy here.


Greg Kofford Books Award-Winning Titles June 12 2015

Since its first publication in 2001, Greg Kofford Books has established a reputation as a publisher of consistently award-winning titles in Mormon history and literature. Check out this comprehensive list of each of our books that has received an award:



2015 Best Book Award, Mormon History Association:For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013, by Russell Stevenson. 



2015 Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association:  Mormon and Maori, by Marjorie Newton.



2014 Best Religious Non-fiction Award, Association for Mormon Letters: Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem, by Michael Austin. 



2014 Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association: From Above and Below: The Mormon Embrace of Revolution, 1840-1940, by Craig Livingston.



2013 Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association: Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854-1958, by Marjorie Newton. 



2012 Best Biography Award, Mormon History Association: Swell Suffering: A Biography of Maureen Whipple, by Veda Tebbs Hale.



2011 Best Criticism Award, Association for Mormon Letters: The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon, by Brant Gardner. 



2011 Best Book Awards, Mormon History Association and John Whitmer Historical Association: Hearken O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations, by Mark Staker. 



2007 Best Book Award, John Whitmer Historical Association: Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto, by Brian Hales. 


2003 Best Biography Award, Mormon History Association: Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, by Boyd Petersen.