Gay Mormon Lit Anthology

Hi all! Progress on my current writing is slow (partly because I have a lot of paid work at the moment, which is definitely a good thing). However, I do have a news item to report.

A month or two ago, I was contacted by some people I know who are putting together an anthology of stories about the gay Mormon experience. They asked if I’d be interested in having a selection from No Going Back included in the anthology. I said yes. Since then, I’ve been spending odd moments poking around and looking at possible candidates for inclusion.

It’s been an interesting experience. My initial reaction on being asked to contribute something was to wonder whether it would be possible to pull out an excerpt that will (a) make sense on its own to readers who don’t know what’s gone before, and (b) provide a sufficiently satisfying sense of closure to work as a standalone piece (even if readers know that it’s taken out of a larger story).

And indeed, that proved to be a challenge. It quickly became evident to me that in order to use some of the most promising selections, I would need to trim individual scenes from the excerpt — simply because they involved characters and plot threads that were extraneous to the main focus.

Based on an initial skim through the book, I came up with 11 candidate selections, 8 of which I put on the table to the people who are putting together the anthology. (The others I eliminated without further consideration, because on review it was clear that they just didn’t work.) Meanwhile, two of the anthology people had looked over my book themselves and come up with their own candidate selections.

From the various lists, we came up with three finalists that shared broad support. I then added back onto the list one of my own candidates that no one else had selected, but that I thought needed consideration as one of the dramatic high points of the books (mostly consisting of pieces from Chapter 10, including Paul’s “confession” scene with his bishop). I then created Word files of the four finalists and sent them around for consideration.

Interestingly, the fourth candidate (the one I had put back on the table) was the one that Jerry Argetsinger (senior editor on the anthology) liked the best and felt did the best job of reflecting what I was trying to do with the novel. According to him, this is also now everyone else’s favorite as well. FYI, Jerry — an experienced dramatist and professor of performing arts — was one of those who originally recommended No Going Back for publication, and also provided me with some revision suggestions that I think made No Going Back much better than it would otherwise have been.

And so that’s where we are right now. I’m also planning to get opinions from my YA critique group, none of whom have read No Going Back and all of whom are non-LDS — which will provide an interesting test case, though I suspect that most readers of the anthology will have strong background knowledge about Mormons. (I don’t know if a publisher is lined up yet, but I know they had one in mind that operates primarily in the Mormon market.) Barring major surprises, though, the current plan is to go with the selection from Chapters 9 and 10.

So what does it all mean?

Pleased as I am to have my work included, I doubt this will lead to any new book sales. Still, it’s good to know that my book will be out there as part of the conversation. On a personal note, I’m pleased to discover that I still like my own book. Which is a good thing. It would be sad indeed to have sunk so much effort into my writing (for no monetary compensation once expenses are calculated) only to discover afterward that I couldn’t stand the story I’d written…

One Response to “Gay Mormon Lit Anthology”

  1. Laura Nielsen says:

    Random note: I met Jerry Argetsinger when we lived in Rochester. He taught me “How to get kids to write a roadshow.” He’s also a magician.

    This also reminds me of a comment by columnist “Miss Manners,” on whether or not it is acceptible for guests to look over a host’s bookshelves. She reports on a visitor who said, “Ah, I see you are interested in anthology!”

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