Friday, September 17, 2010

Author Allison Pittman ~ Revisited

Allison Pittman is a Christian author and speaker who watches too much TV, eats too much chocolate, and lives a gloriously flawed life covered by the grace of her savior Jesus Christ!

What was the most difficult part of writing For Time and Eternity?

~~It’s hard to explain, but I truly felt a sense of spiritual warfare almost from the beginning of the project. I had wonky things happen with my computer, and sometimes an absolutely oppressive sense of writer’s block. Not blocked for ideas really, the story just rolled out for me from the first spark. But, a block of motivation. Everything seemed to take precede
nt over writing. I felt a firestorm of distractions. More than any of my other books, I felt I had to rely on God for both focus and motivation. And, praise be to God, I think the book stands as a victory to that struggle.

What will be your response to those who might struggle with the historical facts and what it does to the modern Mormon church’s reputation?

~~I’ve always said that I didn’t intend for this book to “take on” the Mormon church, or even the practice of polygamy. It’s the story of a woman’s search for a true, deep, sincere relationship with Jesus Christ. She is a woman who rejects Mormon teaching; Mormons reject the fundamental truths of the Gospel. Mormons have largely built their reputation on the fact that their teachings are “different” than those taught in Scripture. Much of what is said by the characters who represent the Mormon leadership in the book comes from primary source texts of LDS sermons, editorials, and spiritual writings. The modern, mainstream Mormon church denounces the practice of polygamy, and that denouncement underscores the fact that it existed. But they also have a reputation for supporting a “gospel” that changes to suit the needs of the Saints. One thing that the Lord put on my heart during the process of writing this book is this: converts to the early LDS church were simply people seeking God. Modern converts to the LDS church are people seeking God. The relationship between Christians and Mormons has never been a smooth one, but I can’t help but think that the growth of the Mormon church might not have been such an exponential burst if Christians had reached out in love rather than pitchforks and torches.

How did this story start? With the doctrinal differences or with the thought of a woman being expected to share her husband? Share how you married the two threads.

The story actually started with the husband character, Nathan. It started with the idea of a man so desperate to please God, so in need of love and acceptance, he would follow any teaching that offered that guarantee. From there came the love story; I always wanted to underscore the fact that these two—Nathan and Camilla —truly loved each other. I was fascinated with the idea that both Nathan and Camilla were facing a choice between following their faith in God, or their love for each other. Both were facing the same sacrifice.

Where did you begin with your research?

~~Hard to say “begin…” I read some books on Mormon history, some of The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and the Covenants—sacred texts to the LDS church. I spent several days in Temple Square in Salt Lake City, strolling through museums and had an eerily quiet, solitary afternoon at the Great Salt Lake. I also read through several message boards populated by former LDS church members, and that was really chilling. There is so much hurt coming out of that church. Interesting, Christians leave their churches to pursue worship with Mormons, but very few Mormons leave their faith to pursue true Christianity. They are hurt, betrayed, frustrated—so broken and made to feel so unworthy. Such defensiveness against any aspect of faith. They’re taught: it’s this, or nothing. And, sadly, feeling disenchanted with Mormonism, they’ll choose nothing. That is the core of Nathan’s battle in the book. If he pauses for one second to think that the prophecies of Joseph Smith are false, then he has absolutely nothing to believe.

How did you choose which details to include in your story?

~~ I also don’t use this book to hi-light the Mormon trail itself—that laborious trek across the country. Not that the journey wouldn’t make a great story—lots of conflict and drama…disease, death…all that fun stuff. But, face it, for the most part, it was just a lot of walking. And walking. And riding. And walking. For Camilla and Nathan, it was little more than the world’s worst honeymoon. History also tells us that the first few years in Deseret also meant plagues of locusts and other hardships. Again, great stuff—and maybe fodder for future books. With this as the initial book in the series, I wanted to focus on one woman’s very personal choice; I didn’t want the grand historical drama to overshadow this very personal conflict. I’m always a firm believer that great fiction comes from small stories.

Without spilling the plot beans, do you have research details that will make further books in the series even more controversial or challenging to write? Why?

~~ The second book in the series deals with military conflict between the United States government and the Mormons. Current headlines that deal with the government’s role in allowing freedom of religion have nothing on what was happening in Utah just before the Civil War.

On a personal note. I LOVED Saturdays with Stella. Do you plan to write more non-fiction? And what might it be?

~~ Aw, thank you. Miss Stella-Bella continues to bless people—I get emails all the time from readers who love that book, too. I’m excited to be leading a ladies’ Bible study group this fall through Saturdays with Stella. Unfortunately, no, I don’t have another non-fiction book in the works right now. Stella was such an amazing gift from the Holy Spirit, and I’m always keeping my heart and mind open! But, readers who love Stella can still get new stories if they go to my website,, and sign up for my newsletter!

Which is your preference to write, fiction or non-fiction and why?

~~ That’s tough. I’d have to go with fiction, though. Like I said, Stella was a gift. Whenever I try to flesh out ideas for other books, I find that I have a couple of good paragraphs…and that’s it. So, you know, they become the occasional blog, or newsletter piece, or even just a good facebook post. But fiction? Endless. It’s so consuming—the research, the character building, the dialogue you repeat over and over in the shower until you can grab a towel and try not to drip on your keyboard as you type it out before the voices go away. I love hiding my personal grudges within unlikeable characters and planting seeds of the Gospel in the lives of those characters who are redeemed within the pages.


Kelly Klepfer said...

Thanks for letting us pick your brain, Allison.

Nicole said...

Allison, great answers to thought-provoking questions. Love your reliance upon and acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit's work within you. Glad you triumphed over the spiritual battle. They can sometimes be debilitating--for awhile anyway.

Tina F. said...

Great interview, Alison! I can't wait to read this. :-)

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Wonderful interview, Allison. Congratulations on your Carol Award for Stealing Home. It's a story I'd love to read soon.