My take on the Gay Author Fiasco - Part 3
Quick précis: Cedar Fort, an LDS publisher, cancelled a contract on a book they were set to release because one of the author biographies showed that he was gay. You can read more about this scandal, and my thoughts on it, in last week's post, and the post from the week before that.
Today, however, I am going to do a quick about-face, and defend LDS publishers. I stand by my belief that this has been badly handled, and that LDS publishers have in the past been far too hard-line when it comes to insisting on totally wholesome books which uphold every aspect of LDS standards. But I do believe that there is an important place for LDS publishers in the market.
Here's why. I recently downloaded a sample of a book which I very much enjoyed. It was the beginning of a fascinating romance, and I was disappointed to get to the end of the sample and discover that the ebook was quite expensive. I want to read the rest of the story but I don't know whether it is going to have any steamy scenes in it. I don't read sex scenes. I consider it pornography in print, and it's against my values and beliefs.
Amazon listed the book as "Romance" rather than erotica, but I've discovered that that's no guarantee. The backliner and reviews didn't give me any clues either. So I sought out the writer on Facebook and messaged her to ask whether I should buy the book, or whether there were scenes in it which I would object to and which would require me to abandon it. I'll let you know what she says when I hear back from her.
The point of all that is, had the book been published by Deseret Book, Covenant, Walnut Springs, Cedar Fort or any number of other LDS publishing houses, I would have no such worries. I would know that the book contains no swearing, no sex, nothing which is going to offend me. I would be able to buy it with confidence and feel entirely comfortable reading it.
The thirteenth Article of Faith ends, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." I think the place of LDS publishers is to provide books and other media which is virtuous, lovely and praiseworthy. For the most part, they do so very well, and I'm proud to be one of the authors who writes for this market.
That's not to say that the LDS market can't produce books which are edgy and challenging. Jennie Hansen's Shudder is one example. It tackles the difficult issue of domestic violence and does so with understanding and depth of emotion. It is moving and eye-opening, and it conveys a powerful message, but it does so appropriately and without descending into crassness.
I started writing for the LDS market because I thought it would be easier to get into than the general market. I was wrong. Publishers take seriously their duty to provide books which are every bit as good as those in the secular market, and the literature they produce is generally excellent. Kerry Blair and Stephanie Black are my favourite LDS authors. Their novels are beautifully written and constructed, Kerry's are often very funny, and Stephanie's are as gripping as any Dan Brown thriller. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to break into this market and share a publisher with these excellent writers. And I feel that LDS publishers have a very important role to play in bringing clean, quality works "of good report" to a world where these are becoming increasingly difficult to find.