Part VI Part VII Part VIII Part IX
Part X Part XI Part XII Part XIII Part XIV
Many times over the years while doing events for my temple novels, I'd have people excited about one book or another specifically because of the temple it features. Maybe their daughter attended Utah State in Logan, or the reader was married in St. George or their parents were married in Salt Lake.
But I frequently got one question: What about Manti?
Turns out that Manti is one of the most popular temples. More people seem to have a personal connection with it than to the others.
"It's next," I said every time.
But yeah . . . no pressure on writing a book about that one.
As I'd done with three prior temples, I spent time seeking out sources about the Manti Temple and the founding of the city. I found a couple of books and two master's theses, all with great information.
But I ran into a couple of problems.
First, most of the information I found was either about the founding of the city or about later improvements to the temple. Sure, there was stuff about the groundbreaking and fundraising and whatnot, but I wanted meaty information about the construction itself.
Second, I wanted the book to be set in the 1880s when the temple was well underway. But after reading about the settlement of Manti, I also wanted significant story elements from that era. Those two didn't really fit, because a twenty-something main character in the 1880s wouldn't have been born when Manti was settled.
I spent weeks sort of freaking out because I had no characters and no plot. I half wished I was doing another Shakespeare retelling as I had with Spires, because at least then I'd have a skeleton of a story to go by.
One day, right about the time I was going to panic, I was blow drying my hair (which in and of itself is pretty rare; I'm an air-dry girl). Hair drying is one of those brainless activities like vacuuming and going on a walk during which, I believe, your creative side can work without you always knowing it.
With my hair half dry, a line of dialogue popped into my head. "It's Tab, not Tabby. I am not a cat!"
I grinned into the mirror.
It was as if Tabitha had walked onto my mental stage. I knew who she was. I knew her past. I knew her personality. I knew about her son. I knew some of the challenges ahead of her.
I didn't know a lot about what her story would become once she returned to Manti. I had yet to meet Samuel or Jeremiah or Mantia, for starters, although I did know about the newspaper.
Most importantly, I knew I had a story, and I couldn't wait to get to the computer to pound out what I'd found and discover more of it.
Only I had yet another minor problem: Easter was in less than a week. I had to sew my three daughters Easter dresses. It was either disappoint my girls, who were counting on me keeping up the tradition, or bottle up the creative energy and let it sit on a shelf for a week.
The dresses won out. But after Easter, you couldn't tear me from the keyboard.