Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Changing the World's Mind

by Sariah S. Wilson

I have a new physical ailment that's had me flat on my back most of the weekend - a tooth that is pulsating with pain and makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. My dentist ordered me some antibiotics and my old pal Vicodin, and that's made me feel woozy and very sleepy. Thus, I must be forgiven in advance for anything that sounds stupid.

I know that I read somewhere (and it quite possibly could have been on this very blog, but I have that whole mind haze going on) that your favorite Dan Brown book is typically the first one you've read.

So far, this has turned out to be true for me. I was totally and completely engrossed in "The Da Vinci Code" (and have mentioned before on this blog that I tried to emulate some of the things he did in my first book). "Angels and Demons?" Not so much. I just never got into it. Didn't really like it. And it shocked me to meet people who liked "Angels and Demons" more than "The Da Vinci Code."

I will read "The Lost Symbol." I'm wondering if it will fall short of "The Da Vinci Code" as well, or whether I'll like it more or less than "Angels and Demons."

At a writing conference I attended a couple of years ago, I sat next to a woman where we asked the typical writing conference questions - what do you read, what do you write. I was still hyped up over "The Da Vinci Code" and mentioned how much I had liked it.

Her whole body changed. Her face hardened, she folded her arms, crossed her legs and turned away from me slightly.

"Have you read it?" I asked.

This turned into a diatribe about the Great Blasphemer (AKA Dan Brown) and how he had spread falsehoods and lies and this was why this woman was going to become a writer - because she planned on writing a book that would refute everything Dan Brown had said in order to guide people back to the truth. (If you still haven't read "The Da Vinci Code," I'm about to reveal some important plot points - you've been warned.)

I asked her what specifically she had been so bothered by. She was incensed by the idea that Jesus Christ had been married.

Of course, having always assumed this to be true, it didn't bother me at all when I read the book.

She was further outraged by the idea that he could have fathered a child (again, something I personally am not outraged by. I do wonder how the whole gene/DNA thing would work given Christ's parentage, but I wouldn't be shocked/disappointed/upset if he'd had a baby(ies). If anything, I would probably think that was kind of cool).

With the release of Brown's newest book, it did get me thinking of the impact he'd had with "The Da Vinci Code." I'm not saying that his conjecturing/research is fact. I don't know one way or the other if Jesus Christ was married and had a baby (although there are scholars who believe he wouldn't have been allowed to preach in synagogues had he not been married, and that it would have been customary for him to marry by a certain age, which I can get behind), but I found myself surprised by the impact that Brown had with that book. He was able to change people's ideas and perceptions, to open them up to possibilities that they previously hadn't considered. For example - a dear friend of mine, who had been raised with the belief that Christ was celibate, had no problem shifting this view and saying she could imagine that he might have been married.

I look at how Jared and Jerusha Hess for a time changed the way that teenagers talked to one another via "Napoleon Dynamite." Or how Stephenie Meyer indirectly advocated waiting until marriage. I don't know how much of an impact they had or how long-term those effects might be, but I would argue that there definitely was an impact.

So with that in mind, as LDS readers/writers, if you could write a book that would turn out to be a bestseller, what one idea would you like to put in people's heads? Obviously, that the Church is true would be a nice one to get everyone to believe, but I'm thinking smaller steps.

Like for me, I think I'd like to write a book that got people to consider the possibility that Quetzlcoatl (Maya/Aztec god) was Jesus Christ.

What about you?


At 10/26/2009 2:33 AM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I'm a fan of Dan Brown. Not because of the topics he writes about but because he does a good job of just making it an intense, fun read. There's mystery, suspense, and fun puzzles (in my mind) to figure out. I just like it.

That being said, I LOVED The Lost Symbol. I thought it was beautiful. I thought it expressed a beautiful view of tolerance, learning, and understanding. I wept. I know it's fiction and it's just a fun ride but the meaning was personal for me. I hope you'll enjoy it.

At 10/26/2009 9:08 AM, Blogger Tamara Hart Heiner said...

The number one message I'm trying to get out with my series: Good people make bad decisions and that doesn't make those who didn't better than them. The atonement equalizes us.

At 10/26/2009 10:29 AM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

I've always been drawn to Mosiah chapter 4. I would like to have people finish reading my book and feel more compassion for the poor and needy, rather than judging them.

At 10/26/2009 10:32 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Interesting question, I haven't really given it any thought before.

But just for fun--I read The Davinci Code first, then Digital Fortress, then Angels and Demons. I think that The Davinci Code was my favorite story-wise and Angels and Demons was my favorite suspense-wise. It's a little more "edgy" and "dark" than the Davinci Code--so maybe that's why some don't like it as well. I also felt like I was learning more with Angels and Demons. With the Davinci Code, not as much.

I also love the fact that Dan Brown proposed that Christ was married. I believe it was highly possible.

I really enjoyed the Lost Symbol for the most part. I do think it dragged after the climax and could have been wrapped up more quickly.

At 10/26/2009 2:47 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I would like to at some point write a book that has a subtle but strong message about being who you are and not having to conform to what people think you should be.

Also would like one about not judging others. I suppose that could be combined with the first, depending on how the first was done.

At 10/26/2009 3:02 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I read The Da Vinci Code first, but liked Angels and Demons a lot more. I thought the writing was better, the suspense was better, the characters were better. And so on.

Personally, I try not to write with a moral purpose in mind. I don't want to educate anyone or sway their opinions. I just want to tell a good story. That said, if a theme works its way into the story, then all the better. But I think that (in general) authors who set out to make a statement generally write didactic, preachy books. (There are obviously notable exceptions.)

With my first book, my publisher insisted I add a moral to it, and it feels very tacked-on. I've always disliked that. My other books also kind of have morals, but it was incidental--I just tried to tell a good story with compelling characters and conflicts, and a theme naturally evolved.

(One of the things I like a lot about my last book is that there is a secondary moral/theme that I don't personally agree with. But it was true to the character, so it's in there.)

At 10/27/2009 12:00 PM, Blogger Noble M Standing said...

My WIP is about a guy that made bad choices and has to pay the price for them. He is offered something good at the begining of the book and refuses but at the end of the book he has to make the decision to accept the good or not.

I hope that the moral is good and that people like it.


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