Writing market needs LDS values, writer says

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    By REBECCA SHAW

    Susan Evans McCloud, an author from Provo and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, participated in a panel discussion titled “Writing for an LDS Market” Saturday.

    As part of the “Life, the Universe and Everything XV” symposium at BYU, which ran Feb. 27 to March 1, the challenges in increasing the market for LDS literature, cinema, theater and visual arts were discussed.

    McCloud’s interest in the subject was first sparked when her husband mentioned the LDS market’s rising popularity. She said future writers will never know the price she paid for the expanding market.

    Current versatility is largely attributed to McCloud’s compromises for editors such as Cory Maxwell, managing editor of Bookcraft. Despite concessions for publishers, her legitimate ideas have eventually been published.

    LDS literature should let the author’s inner-self come through, McCloud said. McCloud said her novels are complimented by LDS viewpoints. Yet, they have been received as warmly as those that are dependent upon the LDS culture.

    “My own personal integrity will not allow me to be like some opportunistic Mormon authors,” McCloud said. “Instead of their syrupy, tear-jerking stuff, I write real stories enhanced by `Mormonisms.’ They are able to stand on their own two feet in any market.”

    Today’s general decadence and shortage of values is in need of the LDS outlook and implied perceptions on life, McCloud said. The national market lends itself very well to LDS authors who can write stories with the depth lacking in 90 percent of the national market.

    LDS novels are relatively new concepts in the national market. The LDS culture has been around the East Coast for the past 200 years. However, McCloud said it has yet to mature in the West. The dilemma revolves around the decision to serve the market or the publishers.

    People of all denominations can relate to the universal human spirit, McCloud said. LDS authors must be willing to accept the challenge and pioneer novels depicting realistic Mormon experiences.

    “The quiet heroism of those that just keep going and face their problems in the world makes major stories,” McCloud said.

    McCloud began her career as a feature writer for the (Dixon) Illinois Telegraph. Since then, she has worked as a Provo teacher for grades 7-12. She has also been a docent at BYU’s Museum of Art Etruscan Exhibition and Brigham Young’s Beehive House in Salt Lake City.

    As a mother of six, McCloud appreciates the LDS market because it’s so accessible. It allows her to write about something she loves and still raise her family well. McCloud also has five grandchildren.

    “I believe if women like myself are doing what’s right, Heavenly Father will help them develop these talents and abilities,” McCloud said. “He understands our desires and responds to womanhood.”

    McCloud is the author of 21 fictional novels, three biographies, eight children’s books and a poetry book. She has also been involved with audio, stage and screen productions.

    Lyricist for LDS hymns titled “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” and “As Zion’s Youth in Latter-days,” McCloud has also written over 20 songs for four LDS seminary courses of study.

    A 20-year member of “Daughters of Utah Pioneers,” she enjoys Scottish and LDS Church history as well as classical music.