Monday, May 28, 2018

Luisa Perkins Q&A

It's Mormon Lit Blitz season again! This year's first story is Luisa Perkins' "Three Dogs in the Afterlife," which you should go read now. After you finish, come back for this short Q&A with the author and let us know what you thought of the story:

One thing we really loved about your story was how much we felt immersed in the main character's very canine point of view. What did you do to help you think like a dog for this story? 

I'm glad you felt immersed in my character's point of view. I have a dog--a corgi named Moneypenny--whom I love to an absurd degree. She follows me around the house and sits at my feet when I'm reading or writing or doing the dishes. She's taught me the nature of submissiveness in the Mosiah 3:19 sense (I think the verse works well if you substitute "dog" for "child"). When I come home, she runs to me with her ears down and her whole back end wagging; she's full of joy and humility and utter conviction of my love for her. It's the attitude I want to have when I approach the Lord. Writing the story, I just tried to imagine life--and the afterlife--through her senses. 

We really loved the way the point of view was not just a gimmick, but something that gave us real spiritual insights. How do you know when you've found good ground for a religious or spiritual story? 

I think good religious or spiritual stories come from the same well as other good stories. They have to feel real and deep and true from the first flash of inspiration (which this time came when I was out on a long walk with my dog) throughout the drafting and revision process. Writing the ending of this story made me cry--and whenever I can get that far under the skin of a story, I feel like I've been successful. 

Any thoughts on what we might learn from a cat's perspective on heaven? 

I love cats. We buried a lovely, maddening, hilarious one a few years ago. That was a tough day. I think what we sometimes interpret as reserve on the part of a cat could actually be something else entirely. Cats, to me, seem both smarter and more alien than dogs. They're a mystery perhaps unknowable in this fallen world. 

What would you like to see more of in Mormon Literature? 

I would like to see more immersive Mormon Literature that isn't afraid to wrestle with hard questions, that engages heart and thought and imagination. I want stories that aren't just cool or entertaining, but that nag at me and haunt me and challenge me. I want there to be Mormon versions of Allegra Goodman and Mark Helprin and Margaret Atwood and Umberto Eco. That will require tremendous courage and dedication and work and vision--as well as a demanding yet nurturing audience. I also want to read more Mormon Literature that comes from experiences outside the Intermountain West. I want high-quality Mormon stories from Peoria and Porto Alegre and Lappeenranta and Luanda. Is that too much to ask?

Where can we read more of your work?
Here's a list of my published works: http://kashkawan.squarespace.com/my-published-work/

3 comments:

  1. I love the idea of the Master having a dog--and it's a stray. Made me feel kind of Christ-like,as all my dogs since I came to Taiwan have been strays.

    It's been seven years since my last dog got cancer and I had her put to sleep. It was a hard decision that involved a lot of guilt and regret. I wish I'd looked after her better. But I'm pretty sure that if there is an afterlife and animals go there, too, one soul is going to be glad to see me, and vice versa. I almost can't wait. I really miss her.

    I really envy Luisa's ability to put so much power and depth in such a small container. I guess that will be my question for the author: how do you choose and refine stories for this length?

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  2. I’m not a dog person but I love this story.

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  3. I'm totally jealous of Luisa's innovation to use special characters to express alien-ness or different-ness or dog-ness.

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