Friday, August 14, 2009

Me and Gerald Lund

Gerald Lund recently released a novel about the Hole in the Rock pioneers titled, "The Undaunted." As soon as the book was announced, I started getting e-mails from friends and readers all over the country, wondering how I was taking the news. They knew I had struggled to get my book on the same topic published, and they wanted to make sure I was all right. I assured them I was.

You can't copyright an idea, and you certainly can't copyright a historical event. It is true that I feel I have a special right to tell the story - a key figure in the event, Benjamin Perkins, was my great-great-grandfather and I wrote my book from his life story and volumes of family history. I have often felt the hand of my ancestors in the writing of my novel, and I truly feel that "Season of Sacrifice" was the book I was meant to write, why I was created to be an author. But that doesn't mean others can't tell the story as well. Mine is more focused and centered on a few characters while theirs are more broad and take in a larger spectrum of characters. The books might tell the same story, but they naturally cover different aspects and I'm very pleased with the attention Brother Lund is receiving for his book. The more people who know the story of these intrepid pioneers, the better.

I do have one concern, though. I know that it's impossible to catch every little bit of information as you research, and I know from experience that there's always something that slips through the cracks, no matter how careful you are. But I was in Walmart today and picked up a copy of Lund's book to peruse, and in the back, saw a notation that Benjamin and his wife Mary Ann were buried in the Bluff cemetery. That is incorrect. Benjamin, Mary Ann, and Benjamin's second wife Sarah are all buried in the Monticello cemetery. I visited there just one month ago. Here I am, at their gravesides, with my dad:It's an easy mistake to make, but as the descendant of Benjamin Perkins, it does leap out, as does Blaine Yorganson's description of Sarah as being a somewhat flighty young thing with a definite Oklahoma-style drawl. Sarah was actually very serious-minded and spoke very little English at the time of the trek.

In response to the numerous questions I've been asked, there are no sour grapes on my part. Yes, I would have liked to get the attention and the sales Brother Lund is now getting. But my book went to those who needed it the most - my family - and I feel I accomplished with it the things I was meant to accomplish. I wish Brother Lund all the best and I hope many of his readers come to appreciate the sacrifices made by those wonderful pioneers, and perhaps if they'd ever like a closer-up view of Benjamin, Mary Ann, and Sarah, they'll keep me in mind.

Note: I inadvertently caused some confusion with my mention of Blaine Yorgason out in the middle of a post about Gerald Lund's book and I'd like to clarify - it's in Yorgason's book where Sarah drawls, not in Lund's.


Karen Gowen said...

I haven't read Lund's book but one thing you wrote in your post struck my annoyance nerve, about how "Sarah" speaks with an "Oklahoma drawl." So many LDS pioneer stories do this, having the pioneers speaking with that kind of drawl, when actually so few of them came from the midwest or southern United States.

They were from Great Britain and the Netherlands, Germany and Holland...they would NOT have southern accents or country-type drawls!! This is a huge pet peeve of mine when reading LDS pioneer literature, and a huge stumbling block that when I run across it I will put the book down in disgust.

You are so right, they barely spoke English, or if they did it would be with a British or Scottish accent, or with the accent of their homeland, not an Oklahoma drawl!

In fact, the British influence was so prevalent in early Church history, that the common Utah accent today still has elements of it. Think "moun'ain" that is from the British. Ask a Brit to say mountain for you and you will get something very close to "moun'ain."

Sorry for the long comment but there's my two cents on the subject.

And keep trying with your own pioneer history tale. Two people can write the same story and it will come out completely different, so don't rule it out for the future!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Thanks, Karen - very true comments! Benjamin, Sarah, and Mary Ann were all Welsh, so there were no drawls of any kind taking place. More like, lilts. :)

I have sold through the entire first printing of my book, so I really have nothing to complain about.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

That doesn't seem right to me. You might be okay with it, but that bugs me.

Maybe the attention will bring out a desire to read more, and your book will get more attention too.

Keeley said...

I was taken by surprise, as well, when I saw that Lund had published a book on the same subject as yours. I wondered if he'd read your book and was so absolutely inspired he had to write his own? =) =)

I also noticed your book on sale in the Deseret Book pamphlet we get every couple of weeks or so. Woo Hoo!!! I showed it to my husband. "LOOK!" I cried, "I know this lady!"

Which is stretching it a bit as I actually only know you through your blog....but please don't deny me my brush with greatness. =D

Kimberly said...

I'm just so impressed by your network of friends who immediately clamored to know were you okay or not. I think that's fabulous.

Nichole Giles said...

Personally, I prefer the more personal, point of view--especially knowing that it was written through use of family journals and documents. It makes the whole story more real, strikes closer to home because we get to learn about their personal sacrifices and triumphs. And we get to read it knowing that the author didn't make these people up, or turn them into something they weren't.

I agree that Brother Lund's book will be very different from yours, but still tell an amazing story. And I hope his will create interest in people who wish to know more, and then look to your book for it.

Because, yours is awesome, and such a touching story to read.


Lee Ann Setzer said...

I worried about you, too. You are a paradigm of perspective.

I hope you at least send Br. Lund a copy of your photo.

Karlene said...

Haven't read The Undaunted yet, but I probably will. I have no problem with two (or 200) books on the same historical subject. What I'm interested to see is how they deal with the polygamy issue. Because wasn't that the reason your book was rejected?

Tristi Pinkston said...

That's right, Karlene. And it's possible that Lund didn't deal with polygamy at all. While there were several polygamists along on the trek, there were also many who weren't, and he might have focused solely on them.

Jen said...

Tristi you are very gracious. Gerald Lund is a wonderful guy and I'm sure he will be equally gracious if you were to contact him--it may be very interesting for the two of you to sit down and chat, since you both share a passion for church history and have a connection with this particular event.

I believe that even if he mentions polygamy, it probably isn't such a focus in the plot as yours was. It's unfortunate to me still that you had such difficulty publishing yours in light of its focus because it was very insightful to me. I loaned my copy to my mom & grandma and they loved it as well. I think your story adds a unique and personal facet.

Candace E. Salima said...

Tristi, you did a fantastic job with "Season of Sacrifice". The story you told of your ancestors leaped off the page as their lives took their place in literary history. Benjamin, Maryann and Sarah all came to life in my mind. When I was with you at their graveside in Monticello, I was touched to be standing near the mortal resting place of such great people who fought so hard to serve the Lord, no matter the obstacles and trials.

Heather Justesen said...

What? I thought all of the Welsh immigrants spoke with an Oklahoma drawl! Lol, it just goes to show no matter how many hours you spend researching, or how good your team is you can still make mistakes. =)

Cindy Beck said...

That's really a bummer, but I agree with what others have said. There can be two books on the same subject and people will still enjoy both. You have your own style. And it's a good one!

Keith Fisher said...

you are a great example to us all. I think I would have sour grapes. of course I wouldn't tell anybody about it. Well, It would be one more thing to teach me to let it go. thanks for your article

Rachelle said...

You are awesome, Tristi. I noticed Lund's book also and thought, "Wait a minute, Tristi already wrote that book!"
Your book is great and I'm sure his will be different, but I learned so much from reading yours. I didn't know the story of the hole in the rock at all before your book.

Wendy said...

I just finished Lund's book and look forward to reading yours as well. I did want to say that I did not find the "Okalahoma drawl" comment to be accurate. Lund describes the Perkins family as a Welsh family and their accents are definitely "Welsh." See page 521 of his book. The family of Jens Nielson plays prominently in the story and they were a polygamous family as you well know. He doesn't spend a lot of time on that, but it is touched upon. I'm sure he made mistakes and took some license with the story to move the fictional characters along, but it was well written and made me want to know even more. I hope to get a copy of your book soon.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Hi Wendy,

My reference to the "Oklahoma drawl" was to Brenton Yorgason's book on the same topic, wherein Sarah uses the word "lawsy" and the like.

I haven't yet read Lund's book, but I intend to. It looks like a masterful piece and I don't in any way mean to degrade it - I was merely answering questions I've received from others who wonder how I felt about the book's release.

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