When I first heard about this book, I knew I wanted to feature it. Then after reading it, I was sure you'd want to know about this interesting mystery. My review of the book will appear in my June newsletter. http://lenanelsondooleynewsletter.blogspot.com
Welcome, Latayne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
In my novel, Latter-day Cipher, I tell the story of a headstrong journalist with no particular religious background who is sent to Utah to cover a rash of mysterious murders in which notes are left beside the victims. These notes are written in the Deseret Alphabet, which is a historical quirk of Mormonism of the 1800s. I of course am a journalist and I have the same “inquiring minds want to know” mindset as Selonnah, the journalist of the novel. However, with other Mormon characters such as Roger and his wife Eliza, I really called upon my memories of being a faithful Mormon and the wrenching difficulty I faced when I left the Mormon Church I loved so much.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My family and close friends would probably ask what I do that is normal. My son came home from college the first semester and said I’d cut my hair, bought a pickup, and become a Trekkie. (All true.) Let’s see -- I have climbed the guard tower at Guantanamo Bay and looked through binoculars at a Cuban guard. My first visit to the British Museum, I spent two full days only in the Egyptian exhibit. I decorate my house with ethnic jewelry. I once ate as a vegan for almost a year. (I actually like tofu.) I hate shopping. Shall I go on?
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In the fourth grade, when I made all the words in my spelling list into a story.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read the Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon and my Bible (often in Greek) every day. But I also love good murder mysteries, Egyptology, poetry, Oliver Sacks, The Great Gatsby, Faulkner, Annie Dillard, Philip Yancey, and books about time travel.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My first book, The Mormon Mirage, was first published by Zondervan in 1979, about six years after I left the Mormon Church. Zondervan is re-releasing a greatly expanded version of it in April 2009 that includes my retrospective after all these years out of Mormonism. It tells some of the “hard facts” behind my novel.
Then I wrote 3 Bible study books for Zondervan on the themes of hospitality, stewardship, and 1 Corinthians 13.
Then I wrote three books for Baker: Why We Left Mormonism, Why We Left a Cult, and After Mormonism, What?
Next was Crisis: Crucible of Praise (Zondervan), A Marriage Made in Heaven (Word) and a children’s book, The Dream Quilt (Waterbrook, written under my pen name Celeste Ryan.)
Along the way, 21st Century Christian re-released one of the Bible study books and Howard Publishing re-released Crisis and Covenant Publishing did the marriage book, expanding it with study questions and entitling it Shout of the Bridegroom.
I also wrote The Red Cord of Hope: When History Stopped for One Woman of Faith (about Rahab) for Covenant. I also have as-yet unpublished books about Sarah, the parables of Jesus, poetry devotionals for the Lord’s Supper and of course my dissertation.
Quite a body of work. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I have to be alone for long periods of time, and I have to pray and read my Bible. I am also working on a first-person novel about Priscilla, the author of the book of Hebrews. It is anchoring my mind in a way nothing I’ve ever before written has done.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
That’s one neat thing about being a novelist is that you can use all the cool baby names you always liked but didn’t have enough children to use up. In Cipher, though, many of the characters have names from Mormon history.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
No question about it – the fact that, with God’s help and a good husband, we raised two intelligent, funny, spiritual, interesting children to be wonderful adults I love to be around.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
The very thought terrifies me unless there is an animal that can read.
What is your favorite food?
Dry roasted almonds.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Lack of time alone – consecutive blocks of it – will shut me down.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Commit your way to the Lord. Make absolutely, unmistakably sure that He has called you to write and publish. Don’t inflict your personality on the world if He doesn’t want you to do that.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
First of all, it’s a literary suspense novel, which is a relatively slim genre. And, I don’t think anyone who is a former Mormon has ever written a novel that shows with compassion just how difficult it is to give up Mormonism if you love it. My editor called it “the DaVinci Code of Mormonism” because of the cipher notes in it, and he said he love that it gives an insider’s view of a religion most people don’t understand.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Several places – at http://www.latayne.com/ and http://novelmatters.blogspot.com/ and of course more academic studies at http://www.representationalresources.com/
Thank you for spending this time with us, Latayne. Hope you'll be back soon.
Readers, here's a link where you can order a copy of Latter-Day Cipher:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification of the win will be the winners post on this blog. So be sure to check back on Saturday in two weeks to see if you won.
If you're reading this on Facebook or Amazon, please come to this blog to leave a comment: