Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Whitney Finalist: Daughter of Helaman by Misty Moncur

Today's spotlight is Daughter of Helaman by Misty Moncur.

It's the story of a teenage girl, Keturah, who wants to join Helaman's 2000 Stripling Warriors.

Although she does encounter gender-based obstacles to her dream, most of them are of her own making. That's what makes this story so unique, it's not as much about a girl overcoming a restrictive society as it is a girl overcoming her own view of society.

There are many memorable characters and scenes, but it was Keturah's dedication and spirit that pulled me through the story. She stands at the crossroads of youth and adulthood where there are so many possibilities ahead. These possibilities are both thrilling and overwhelming. Her choices strengthen some paths and close off others. It is an exciting time of life.

The story also explores the multifaceted relationships between the characters. Sometimes Mother is a mother, other times a friend, other times a healer. Keturah's childhood friend, and fellow soldier, might become her betrothed. While her captain, and trainer, might just steal her heart. She doesn't have long to find her way before the Sons (and Daughter) of Helaman have to march against the Lamanites.

I asked Misty how writing this story was special to her.
The thing that makes my first novel special to me is the knowledge and faith I gained while writing it. The Lord blessed me . . . and opened my mind to details in the scriptures I had never noticed before. As I wrote Daughter of Helaman and continued on to the next books in the series, I learned to write by the promptings of the Spirit more than by the promptings of my outline. I learned so many things about myself during this process and my testimony increased so much that even if no one else ever gets much from it, I know it was totally worth writing.
She also shared some great advice for all writers.
As a writer, you . . . become attached to your writing. You put so much of yourself into it, and not just your thoughts and ideas. Completing a novel takes a lot of your time. It steals your sleep. It takes an emotional commitment--you have to basically develop a one-sided relationship with your characters (sometimes at the expense of your real relationships with real people!) And the whole time you're wondering if your voice is even worth being heard.

Though I am completely emotionally involved with my characters and the scriptural events I write about, I really tried not become too attached to the actual writing in Daughter of Helaman. Knowing I was going to have to share it with others by publishing it, I didn't want to get possessive of it, to think of it as only mine, or become too attached to something an editor might want to change. Still, I love it because it is mine and there is a piece of me on every page and in every character.
I agree. While writing a novel isn't the hardest job in the world, it's not easy at all. Then it takes courage to share your creation with the world.

So, let's jump right into the very beginning of the story. It starts with danger.
I crouched, still as stone, behind the broad leaves of an evergreen tree, watching the men below me. Usually when I came to the high cliff above the falls, I watched the stream meander through the valley down below or daydreamed while I gazed at the large temples in the distance.
Today I watched for my brother. Micah had left a month ago to recruit boys for the Ammonite army, and he was supposed to return to the village today. But though I watched for him all morning, I hadn’t seen him yet. Instead, I saw the small group of men traveling north toward Ammonihah. They stayed near the West Road but skulked in the cover of the trees.
Lamanite spies.
If you liked that you can read the first few pages, and then get your own copy.

No comments:

Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise noted, all posts on the John Waverly blog by John Waverly are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations