Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Guest Blogger: Melanie Goldmund

Stephanie Black is out of town this week. The Frog Blog is honored to host guest blogger Melanie Goldmund. Melanie writes a variety of fiction, including a story that was broadcast on the radio as part of an Easter program. She entertained her ward with a delightful Christmas story that you can read here. Melanie's current work-in-progress is a new version of a familiar Book of Mormon story--with a space opera twist. I had the privilege of reading the beginning of this novel and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading the finished book. You can check out Melanie's website here.

Melanie is an avid reader, and has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on a few of the countless books she has enjoyed. I didn't even have to bribe her--okay, maybe I slipped her fifty euro to get her to refer to me as "famous", but other than that I didn't bribe her. Melanie, welcome to the bog!

Hi, I'm really excited that Stephanie Black asked me to write this guest blog, even though she's already been published and is therefore famous, and I am still in the pre-published pool of aspiring authors. I don't necessarily want to be famous, but I would like to be published. My name is Melanie Goldmund, and although I grew up in Salt Lake City, I now live in Kiel, in the far north of Germany. If you imagine Germany as a slightly inflated balloon, Kiel is up in the neck of it, close to Denmark, on the Baltic Sea. It's often referred to as the Breezy City, although breezy can be a bit of an understatement at times. Now, I'm not going to say that we get a lot of precipitation in Kiel, but the town council is still trying to decide between two candidates for Kiel's Official Song: "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." Unlike the Lake District in England, however, Kiel has yet to print postcards saying "Wish You Were Here … Instead of Me," or simply showing a sheep wearing an Aqua-Lung.

With all this weather, you either have to be a full-blooded sailor (which I am not) or like staying indoors (which I do.) My favourite thing to do is read, and when I first came to Kiel, the thing I missed most, besides Reese's peanut butter cups and rootbeer, was the SLC Public Library with its many, many books. Kiel does have a library, but their selection leaves a lot to be desired. (One day when I am rich and famous, or at least a published author, I'll help make up for their lack.) I'm always ecstatic when care packages arrive from home, especially when they include a selection of LDS literature. Over the years, I've built up a modest collection, and of course there's always room for more. But I've read enough now to have some real favourites, and I'm pleased to share them with all of you blog readers and frog fans.

It occurred to me as I was writing that I would never finish this blog if I stopped to list every book that I like, or even every author, and that I would have to limit my choices in a big way. It didn't take long for me to decide to concentrate on the small, but hopefully growing genre of LDS speculative fiction, mostly because I hope to join this select group of authors one day. I love sci fi and fantasy, and always went straight to that section of the library whenever I visited there. I also grew up watching Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, and anything else I could find that involved spaceships, different planets, and alien creatures. Now, I haven't yet found a book published by an LDS publisher that involves spaceships and different planets, but two themes that frequently show up in speculative fiction include time travel and "last days," and that's close enough to sci fi for me.

The Believer, by Stephanie Black, is a novel about life in the future in a country called New America, a place where reading the wrong book can cost you your life. And Ian Roshek has the wrong book – the Book of Mormon, that is. At one point, Ian tells a friend, "A prophet taught that the word of God can do more to change people than anything else – including weapons. If you change people's hearts, you'll change the nation." In this book, we see the first ripples as the teachings of the Book of Mormon start to change Ian's heart, and how this affects the people around him, including not only his sister, but also the police officer in charge of interrogating Ian at the beginning of the story. I especially liked Ian because of his doubts; he's initially afraid that he won't have the strength to stand up for the truth, or that he will choose physical safety over faith. But when it comes down to it, he really does have the courage of Abinadi.

Race Against Time, by Willard Boyd Gardner, starts out with Owen Richards, a member of a SWAT team, going in to rescue hostages held by escaped convicts from prison in a refinery near Salt Lake City. The second part of the book has Owen, along with his truck and his SWAT gear, being mysteriously transported back in time to Missouri, specifically the area around Haun's Mill, in the year 1838. Owen uses his training and his equipment to help the Mormons who are being persecuted by the mobs. There's plenty of action and humour, and even a touch of a love story in this fast-paced, enjoyable book.

I also enjoyed Time Riders, by Sierra St. James. Sheridan and Taylor are college students, sharing a room and just about to go out, when a ball of light appears in the corner. It widens into a crevice and sucks both girls in. When they wake up, they find out that they've been pulled forward in time to the year 2310, and that the people who invented the time strainer were looking for a brilliant scientist called Taylor Sheridan to come and help them with their work. It seems that the two girls are stuck in a city that's covered by a dome, where animals died out a long time ago, where religion is banned and a Mafia-like group called the Dakine is infiltrating the government. But if religion is really gone, then who are these Doctor Worshippers that the Dakine so desperately want to get rid of? Along with the various mysteries in the book, I particularly liked the emphasis that the author placed on language, especially how slang terms from our time completely baffled the people from the 24th century.

I only discovered Linda Paulson Adams this year, when somebody posted a link to her site and mentioned that you could win free copies of her books. The first book in the trilogy entitled Thy Kingdom Come is called Prodigal Journey, and I wish it had been published this year instead of in 2000, so that I could nominate it for a Whitney Award. Linda's writing is deep and rich and immensely satisfying to read. You can't just skim over the words, you have to immerse yourself in the story, and although the protagonist goes through some truly harrowing things, it's definitely worth it at the end. If you're a fan of speculative fiction and want to see how the very last days might play out, or even if you're not, give this book a try. The second book, Refining Fire, was published in 2004, and Linda is currently plugging away at the draft of the third book, Zion Rising.

I also wanted to write about Robison Wells' upcoming Atlantis novel, because I'm sure it would have fit perfectly into this category, but according to his website, he's abandoned that. I guess I'll have to settle for his YA fantasy book instead, whenever it comes out. Oh, well. Does anybody have any recommendations for other books in the genre of LDS speculative fiction? I'd love to check them out, so please don't hesitate to leave a comment. In the meantime, thanks for reading!


At 8/01/2007 11:17 AM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I haven't abandoned it, Melanie! I just pushed it back behind this YA book. But it's still humming.

Great blog!

At 8/01/2007 11:49 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Fun blog, Melanie! Love it!

I'd like to help you out with book recommendations, but the best LDS speculative fiction I've read (besides The Believer, of course) hasn't yet been published. You could still read it, though, since you wrote it!

Wow. You're our second guest blogger from outside the U.S! That seals the "internationally famous" thing, right?

At 8/01/2007 1:32 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

I loved Time Riders! So few people know about that one, which is a travesty because it's such a great read. I also loved Prodigal Journey--one of the great LDS novels.

At 8/01/2007 2:06 PM, Blogger Josi said...

You mentioned all the ones I've read, so I'm of no help to you whatso every.

Rachel Nunes A Heartbreak away might be considered Speculative, it's a girl who is murdered and is trying to help her family solve it. And Julie Wright's Loved Like that has some speculative aspects, but it's mostly a romance. It seems I read one by Yorgensen's a few years back that was speculative--the Alliance?

Isn't it exciting the way LDS fiction is growing into other genre's. I love it!

At 8/01/2007 2:21 PM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

I'm so glad to hear that you liked Time Riders. You are obviously brilliant!

Janette (AKA Sierra St. James)

At 8/01/2007 2:28 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

It was nice to read your blog Melanie. I have also read several of Melanie's chapters from back in the day at Shred and Dread at Latter-day Authors. I am sure we'll see it in published form one day.

At 8/01/2007 3:21 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

I loved Time Riders too! It is one of my absolute favorite books! I'm with Annette; so few people know about it and that is beyond tragic! I loved Linda's books as well. Sounds like we could be in the same book club and have a blast.

At 8/01/2007 4:26 PM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

My comment disappeared into cosmic oblivion, so I'll try again. Great blog Melanie, good to see you here. I'm not a speculative fiction fan, but in addition to The Believer and Time Riders, I really like Chris Stewart's Last Days series, The Great & Terrible, especially his new one, Fury & Light. Another favorite is Jef Downs's Standoff, which is speculative suspense. My grandson read my copy of The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull (to be released in September) and he said it's the best fantasy he ever read. He reads every fantasy that comes along and loved HP. I'm aware of several books of this time in the making, but few under actual contract, but it does look promising that this genre will be growing in LDS fiction.

At 8/01/2007 9:36 PM, Blogger Gamila said...

The Alliance was written by Gerald Lund. I loved that book. It was so good! He wrote several others like the Freedom Factor and Leverage Point that were also in the speculative fiction realm somewhat. I've been axiously awaiting Linda Adams to finish her trilogy since I read her frist book a long time ago. And I really loved Time Riders too. Very cool characters. Seems most of the LDS market fantasy interest is going into YA now. Not that I'm complaining. I love to read YA.

At 8/01/2007 10:24 PM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

I loved the Jimmy Fincher Saga by James Dashner, as well as Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.

There are also several LDS authors writing in the fantasy field for the national market. Shannon Hale, Brandon Sanderson, David Farland (AKA Dave Wolverton), Stephanie meyers, Anne Perry, and of course Orson Scott Card to name a few. Some are better than others, but they're all good for a great ride through the story.

At 3/10/2010 12:41 PM, Blogger Th. said...


Does Malanie still have a website now that Geocities is over and done with?


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