Sunday, May 24, 2009

Latayne C. Scott - LATTER-DAY CIPHER - Free Book

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.

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 and and of course more academic studies at

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:


by Wendy Leaumont said...

Thanks for an interesting interview! I just read "Latter Day Cipher" and enjoyed it immensely. It's a look into the strange world of Mormonism from the outsider's perspective, but it's smart and you can tell it is written with compassion for those in the Mormon faith.

David Murdoch said...

That sounds very interesting. I wonder how many former mormons are out there doing this sort of thing?

God Bless,

Carlene said...

What a great interview. I have had my eye on Latter Day Cipher for sometime. I think it is a must have, next time I go to the book store.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Wendy -- I am so glad you enjoyed Latter-day Cipher! And I am so grateful to Lena for this gracious interview.

David and Carlene, I'll be very anxious to hear what you think after you read it! You can leave me a message -- and find out more about Mormonism -- at

By the way -- there's a book trailer on that site, too.

Yours and His,

apple blossom said...

Interesting. I'd love to win this book. Thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Robyn said...

I found this interview very interesting. Reading books having to do with mormonism, and people coming out of mormonism, can be very fascinating. Please enter me in your book contest. Thanks!

Unknown said...

The interview was great! The book looks amazing! I love mystery kinds of books and learning something that I didn't know. I would love to be entered to win


Latayne C Scott said...

Lastnerve, robyn and Abi, I hope you enjoy the book!

I realized that David Murdoch had asked a question I didn't answer. He wanted to know how many former Mormons are doing "this sort of thing." There are quite a few nonfiction books written by ex-Mormons. On my web site, I have a section called "365 Reasons Why I Won't Return to the Mormon Church" and several ex-Mormons such as I have posted some reasons.

However, fiction on the subject by ex-Mormons is pretty unusual. I have a column on my blog called "Cult Fiction." I post reviews of fiction about Mormonism and other groups. However, rare is the novel about Mormonism that's written by an ex-Mormon.

I would love to post more reviews of fiction about Mormonism, so if you've read such a book, please let me post your review.

Happy reading!

Latayne C Scott

Rachel Rossano said...

I am very interested in reading the work of an author that comes from such an interesting background.

Jean said...

Sounds like an interesting book and a very interesting author.


Carole said...

I follow Ms. Scott's blog and greatly appreciate the direction she has gone with her writing. This book is on my must-read list, so thank you or the chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Norma said...

It's always good to be able to understand where other people are coming from. Please enter me for this book.

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said...

What an amazing body of work. I was raised LDS, my family left the 'faith' when I was 12 and I plunged into the occult until being saved two years ago. It's only as an adult that I've come to appreciate the massive differences between the false theology of works-based mormonism and a grace-based walk with the true living God.

I've never read an ex-mormon novel, it sounds extremely interesting.

Patti Lacy said...

This book sounds fascinating! I plan to read it.

Oh, praise God for your ministry!


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. I don't know much about Mormon beliefs and that would really add a different perspective to the mystery!


peachykath said...

This sounds like a great book. I love mystery's and getting sucked into the story and trying to solve the mystery before the end. Please enter me in the drawing for this book.


Roanna said...

Please enter me for this book giveaway. Thanks!

ohiobuckeye91 [at] gmail [dot] com

Linda said...

I've read only one other series on Mormonism. This one sounds like a great take. It's intriguing how man can twist Scripture when in total control of the people following him/her. Please enter me for the drawing. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Megan said...

What an interesting interview. Will you interview again when the Mormon Mirage is re-released? I would love a reminder to find that book and purchase it. But please sign me up for this one! Thanks Lena!

Marla said...

Now this sounds like a very interesting book that I would like to read. Please include me in this drawing. Thanks!

windycindy said...

Mormonism fascinates me! Her perspective would be quite fascinating. Many thanks, Cindi

Anonymous said...

I read the first chapter in a Moody Books sampler and it was great! No i'd like to read the entire thing!

Stormi said...

This sounds like a very very interesting book and I would love to read it.
Please enter me in the drawing


sharon54220 said...

Please enter me. Another great review.