Bound for Utah, March 2010 . . .
I'm headed to Utah in March for three book events:
Reading in Cedar City
Thursday, March 25, 5 p.m.
Student Center Theater
Southern Utah University
Reading in Orem
Friday, March 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Library, Room 120
Utah Valley University
Reading in Salt Lake City
March 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm
University of Utah Honors Center
1975 DeTrobriand Street
Building 619, Ft. Douglas
All events are free and open to the public
I'll be reading and discussing my novel, Torn by God: A Family's Struggle with Polygamy. This time, I'll be coming with a group of Mormon women as part of OUR VISIONS, OUR VOICES: A MORMON WOMEN'S LITERARY TOUR.
What does it mean to be a Mormon woman in the 21st century? Award-winning Mormon poets, novelists, memoirists and non-fiction authors from California to Canada will explore the question in this historic literary tour. Project founders Dr. Joanna Brooks of San Diego State University and Dr. Holly Welker of Salt Lake City have tapped into a range of denominations that share historic roots with the greater Mormon and Latter Day Saint traditions.
"This is about creating common ground," says Joanna Brooks. "We want to create a space for Mormon women of diverse experiences and backgrounds to articulate the richness of our shared tradition and its futures."
Featured readers include prizewinning poet Danielle Dubrasky, memoirist Kathryn Lynard Soper, Lee Mortenson, and novelist Zoe Murdock (that's me) as well as emerging LDS and RLDS women writers.
Readings will be held at Claremont College, San Diego, California, March 22; Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, March 23; Southern Utah University in Cedar City, March 25; Utah Valley University in Orem, March 26; and the University of Utah in Salt Lake, March 27.
The Utah Valley University Department of English is sponsoring the tour, with additional support from the Claremont University Mormon Studies program. Audio will be podcast at mormonmatters.org. Women writers who want to contribute to the tour's archive at the University of Utah Marriot Special Collections Library can bring their own writings to the readings.
To read the bios of all the women on the tour and for a detailed schedule of each event, go to:
In my last trip to Utah, I read at:
The Book Cellar in St. George on Thursday, September 24th at 6 pm.
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.