Where did you first get the idea to write
The Chosen One?
Many years ago I heard of a young woman who
ran from her polygamist community. She was
dragged home, beaten and yet she ran again. I
knew at that momentat least a decade ago
that I would write this novel.
One of my goals in writing the book was to show
the difference between polygamist groups and
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
of which I am a member. Some people still think
that most men in Utah have more than one wife.
Polygamists are not Latter-day Saints. I wanted to
show that in my book.
Around the time you were starting to write the
book, your daughter brought home a young man
whose polygamous father was in jail. In what
ways did this boys continued presence in your
life affect the direction of the book?
When Chris came into our lives I was, indeed,
just beginning the novel. I asked him a few
questions, but Chris life was, in many ways,
very different from Kyras. He didnt live on a
compound (though his family did live out in the
desert away from people), he was allowed to
choose how he believed when he got older, and
while life proved to be pretty tough for him, he
didnt have to fight quite as hard for freedom
as Kyra does.
How did you go about researching polygamous
Did any of the strong, yet violent scenes,
such as the punishment of baby Mariah, Kyras
beating, and Kyras and Patricks run from the
God Squad come from any real-life stories?
I did a huge amount of research before and during
the writing. There are many different kinds of
polygamist groups around the world. So while this
book is grounded in fact, it is still fiction. Patricks
story is made up, but another writer who was doing
research for a book about polygamy told me about
disciplining children by dunking them in ice water.
I've also heard of crying babies being squirted in the
face with water until they learn to not cry at all. As
indicated by the news report about the young girl
who was beaten when she ran from her polygamist
community, the beatings do take place.
As far as research: I looked up everything I could
online. This was a few years back, before the
Warren Jeffs arrest. And it was kind of weird,
because when I knew I was ready to start writing, it
suddenly seemed that TV was full of stories of
polygamists. I watched several nationwide news
programs, read many newspaper articles, and read
both positive and negative accounts of polygamy.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher.
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