Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Inquring Minds

Since the release of Spires of Stone about a month ago, I've gotten a few questions posed repeatedly. Since I'm guessing that others have the same questions, I thought I'd answer them in one spot.

Here goes:

1) Are your historical books a series? (Do I have to read them in order?)
The simple answer: No. They're stand-alone books that can be read without having cracked open another one.

The slightly more complicated answer: At the Journey's End does take one character from House on the Hill and carry on his story. It's not really a sequel, but more of a spin-off. Rest assured, you can read his entire story without having read the other book. However, if you plan on reading them both, I suggest reading House on the Hill first so the ending isn't ruined when you pick up Journey's End.

As for Spires of Stone, it isn't connected to the other books at all as a sequel or a spin-off. It opens a good decade earlier than House on the Hill and only briefly features two characters from the other books, but those are merely cameos, more of a hello to readers than anything. It stands alone.

2. Did you include this story in Spires of Stone? What about this one? Or this one?
Probably not. Two reasons.

First, the construction of the Salt Lake temple took a whopping 40 years. To use more than a tiny fraction of the stories involved would have made a history text rather than a novel. My goal is to tell a good story where the history serves as a backdrop. I never want to resort to spoon-feeding a history lesson.

Second, I purposely pick elements to portray that not everyone talks about. I want readers to discover neat stuff they didn't know before, and generally speaking, that means not retelling the stories that have been told a thousand times before.

3. Why didn't you tell more about the construction?
The biggest reason is again, the scope of the construction. If a building takes four decades to complete, good luck finding a few months at any point where lots of dramatic events happen. Alternately, trying to tell a story that encompasses many years doesn't usually work. My plot required only a few months.

So I took what I felt was one of the more interesting points in the construction and focused on that: when the second foundation is finally above ground level, and the period when Brigham Young closed the quarry. (Read the book to find out why he closed it; how's that for a cheesy plug?)

Plus, photography plays a significant role in the story, and I couldn't have the technology too advanced for my purposes. All of those elements made me zero-in on a few months of 1867.

But I do flash back to another part of the construction (when the first, cracked foundation is being ripped out). Plus, the epilogue takes places 25 years later at the capstone celebration, another big-time history moment.

There you have it: the most frequently-asked questions about Spires of Stone so far. If you have any others, drop me a line, and I'll answer.


Anonymous said...

i like how you say you don't want to tell the stories that have been told a million times before :) kathleen

Josi said...

Very cool. It's amazing how much thought and planning went into the time and the set-up for the story.

PS to anyone who hasn't read it yet--what's wrong with you? It's really great.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I am excited to read Spires of Stone. My daughter and I went to a ladies night out at our local LDS bookstore, and she won your book as a door prize. She won't let me read it until she finishes it though. I might have to sneak it when she is at school :)

Rebecca Talley said...

I just bought it at an independent LDS bookstore in the tiny town of Thatcher, AZ. I even said, "I 'know' the author."

Can't wait to read it!

Annette Lyon said...

Stephanie and Rebecca--coolness! I hope you like it. :)


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...