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Tell Me More About Religion And Your Writing

I don’t set out to put anything specifically Mormon into my books, but who I am definitely influences what I write and how I write it. I’m always curious at the things people dig out of my writing—often they’re not things that I was conscious of, though they certainly do make interesting points now that you look at them.

Elantris, for instance, centers around a magic system that has essentially been broken because something in the world has changed–a “new revelation” if you will. And then Mistborn has at its core a set of holy writings that have been altered by an evil force.

My goal in storytelling is first and foremost to be true to the characters–their passions, beliefs, and goals. No matter what those are. I’m not trying to make a point consciously ever in my writing–though I do think that good stories should raise questions and make readers think.

Who I am as a person heavily influences what I write, and I draw from everything I can find–whether it be LDS, Buddhist, Islamic, or Atheist. It’s all jumbled up there in that head of mine, and comes out in different characters who are seeking different things.

In other words, I’m not setting out to be like C.S. Lewis and write parables of belief. I’m trying more what Tolkien did (not, of course, meaning to compare myself favorably with the master) in that I tell story and setting first, and let theme and meaning take care of itself.

Fiction doesn’t really exist–certainly doesn’t have power–until it is read. You create the story in your head when you read it, and so your interpretations (and your pronunciations on the names) are completely valid in your telling of the story. The things you come up with may be things I noticed and did intentionally, they may be subconscious additions on my part, or they may simply be a result of your interaction with the text. But all three are valid.

Regardless of a person’s beliefs, I think they would have to admit that religion and spirituality has played a large part in our development as a people. It’s a very important thing to so many of us–and I also think that for most of us, our beliefs are nowhere near as simple as they seem when viewed from the outside. I think I still have a lot to learn. There’s a real line to walk in expressing a character’s religious views without letting them sound preachy–the goal is to make the character real, but not bore the reader.

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