Monday, December 12, 2005

Novel Update

I'm currently having a blast finishing up a novel about a mid-30s single Mormon woman who meets a non-member man, converts and marries him, and gets drawn into his baggage. I don't want to give away the plot of this "sexual thriller," but he has an ex-wife with whom he adopted a girl, and the girl's birth mother is part of the scene too, with the adoption fully open. Free from her teaching duties during the summer, the Mormon gal becomes friends with this birth mother, as they take the little girl on summer outings, and--well, the working title is "Orbiting Amanda," in reference to this girl around whom all four adults revolve, causing them to intertwine in provocative ways.

Other elements in the mix: The Mormon woman is a recovering fornicator who is trying to regain full fellowship. The birth mother is a Wiccan. There's lots of stuff woven in about the Mormon woman's polygamous ancestors, including Lorenzo Snow and her own father, who is sealed to two women, although civilly divorced from one. In the novel's present time, this father is trying to help deprogram his ex from the cult she joined 40 years earlier, which is what originally broke up their marriage. (It's the Immanuel David cult, which my cousin joined in real life--you know, the cult where the prophet's wife threw her kids off the hotel in downtown SLC. My cousin still caretakes the one girl who survived.) But this is causing stress in his current marriage with the main character's mom.

I think one of the main underlying tensions and questions driving my writing is wondering whether polygamy ever has any validity as a family model. To deny that it could is something I'm not prepared to do, lest I discount my own family history and religion, so this novel is my attempt to imagine conditions in which it might work. I personally tend to suspect that polygamy could work only when the women control it and form strong emotional bonds among themselves. However, I also think that any form of polygamy without God's sanction is highly likely to become corrupt. I went to elementary school with an inbred, cross-eyed Kingston kid . . .

Anyway, I'm currently in the home stretch of finishing up a pretty solid 100,000-plus-word draft, which I hope to have done by the end of January at the very latest, hopefully before then. I will then do something else for a few weeks to cleanse my palate, then I will return to this novel manuscript and reread it, to make tweaks and see if I've got something strong enough to send to my agent. (I think I do, but you never know for sure until you go back and reread.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you'll think of Parables when you finish this. I'm quite intrigued by your summary.

Beth Bentley