Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The End, the Arc, and Alma the Younger by H.B. Moore

by Julie Coulter Bellon

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been finishing up a manuscript. It’s been an interesting process with this manuscript because I had the beginning and the middle almost from the get-go, but I couldn’t really figure out the perfect ending. I had several options that I'd tried to write for it: a happy tied up ending, a kill off one of the characters so it’s not happy for everyone ending, make this the book that has a sequel so leave it as a cliffhanger ending, or just end it right after the main plot is wrapped up with sort of an open ending. I asked one of my readers where I should end it and she told me that she didn’t like any of those endings, but thought that instead of killing off the character I had in mind, I should just maim him, so people would still come away feeling satisfied that he was alive, but not exactly happy because he was maimed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her wanting to maim one of my characters, but it was food for thought.

For me, I like the happy endings the best. I like it when the couple gets together, the good guys win, and everyone has a happily ever after. My first three books were more happily ever after books and some of my reviews reflected how there are a lot of people who don’t like that. They don’t consider it realistic. But for me, I guess I don’t read for realism per se. I read for escape and entertainment, sometimes learning, but most of all because there is hardly anything more relaxing for me than to settle down with a book, a comfy chair, and a tall glass of raspberry lemonade.

Lately, I’ve been reading Alma the Younger by H.B. Moore and it’s definitely not a fluffy book. The book starts out with a scene that totally made me want to cringe and read it through my fingers. She wouldn’t, I thought, but she did. It is so gripping, and yet so thought-provoking as Moore puts out a plausible theory as to why Alma the Younger would turn away from the Church and actively campaign against it. I have long been a fan of her writing, but in my opinion, this is her best book yet. I like how real the Book of Mormon world is in the book, and her impeccable research shines through. The characters are rich and tangible, and though this is a fiction work, it is easy to imagine a fleshed out version of these familiar people and their lives because of the way the author writes them.

This book tackles some difficult issues, but even those are presented in such a way that stays true to what we actually know about these prophets and the people around them. I like that there isn’t any overt preachiness in the book, and we are left to draw our own conclusions and interpretations on several issues. In my opinion, Heather Moore is one of the best Book of Mormon fiction writers around because of her innate ability to bring such an amazing and realistic texture to this time period and weave a story using research, real people, and a compelling storyline.

I’m not quite done with the book, I have to read the ending, but I can’t wait to see how the author deals with it, knowing what I do about what really happens to Alma the Younger. And it might give me a little inspiration on which ending to pick for my book. I sometimes think to myself that I ought to put all these different endings that I write for my books on my website so people can pick and choose what ending they want to have: Happy for the happily ever after people, sort of happy for the not, open for people who like to imagine it more themselves, that sort of thing. But no matter what the ending ends up being, I’m just glad this manuscript is about done. There is no other feeling in the world like that.

(Also, as an aside, I was feeling sad this week because I signed up to get an ARC of the Fourth Nephite by Jeff Savage a long time ago, but never got one. Then today, in the mail, I got a beat up old ripped envelope that said it had come unsealed so they’d been keeping it in some Salt Lake post office all this time. I was so glad to see it and I take back all the cranky thoughts I had about Jeff Savage.)

Anyway, here is the backliner to Alma the Younger. It’s definitely a keeper, and a book you’ll want to read over and over. (And even though I got a review copy, I would have bought it myself anyway because I wouldn't want to have an incomplete H.B. Moore collection).

As night falls, a scarlet-robed man emerges from the temple and a hush falls over the waiting crowd. Studying the hooded figure with enmity, Alma recognizes that this is the man who incites rebellion among the people of Zarahemla. This is the man who dares preach from the very place where King Benjamin uttered his final blessings upon the people of the church. Defiling the tower with his very presence, the man who embodies evil raises a hand to silence the drums, then calls to his followers through the eerie quiet. And that’s when Alma realizes the terrible truth: this man is his son.

Alma the Younger, son of the aging high priest, once was taught by the wisdom of prophets. Now the young man is a thief — ensnared by the wiles of strong drink and harlots; a bitter dissenter determined to overthrow the church, to lead the people into new “freedoms.“ He has gathered a strong army to create a revolution, which only begins with the desecration of the temple and will escalate to calamity once he captures King Mosiah’s daughter. But en route to his malicious mission with his royal henchmen, Alma is halted by an unexpected opponent: an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the very God he has sought to defame. And what unfolds is a story of miraculous redemption, a story building on the poignant Book of Mormon account to show how even the vilest of sinners can be transformed by the Savior’s amazing grace.

304 pages published by Covenant Communications


At 7/29/2010 7:08 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...


Just put a disclaimer on the front cover of your next book that says, "Caution: contains simple escapism and pure entertainment. Read at your own risk!" and then give us a happily ever after. These are the exact reasons I read novels these days.

At 7/29/2010 7:29 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

A woman after my own heart! I'll have to run that by the publisher, Debra. ;)

At 7/29/2010 9:34 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Is Jeff's new book from Covenant or SM? Because if it was from the first, then you've been waiting on the ARC of the Covenant.

At 7/29/2010 9:39 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Haha, Sariah! Well, the return address on the decimated enveloped that contained the ARC said Deseret Book so I'm going with that. :)

At 7/29/2010 9:58 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Yep DB. So did you not get a book?

At 7/29/2010 10:47 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

I did get a book today in a ripped beaten up envelope that stated it had come unsealed and been held in some post office in Salt Lake. So then I repented of all the cranky thoughts I'd had about you and your book promises, Jeff. I hope you forgive me. I can't wait to read it! :)

At 7/29/2010 11:59 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

On the choose-your-own-adventure note, this was the next story (after this one) in my feed reader—an online YA novel where readers get to vote on what happens next:

At 7/30/2010 2:46 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...

Oh, good, Julie! I was afraid all you got was an empty envelope. But you can curse me any time! :)

At 7/30/2010 5:52 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

I always believe in very satisfying endings :)


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