Interview with Author B. Jay Gladwell

Actually, I grew up traipsing around in the hills of West Virginia (that’s where the term “redneck” originated). Yes, I’m a hillbilly, born and bred and proud of it!

My first attempt at writing was in the third grade. Our teacher had us take the list of spelling words for that week and write a story using those words. Much to my teacher’s chagrin I elected to write something befitting “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (that was one of my favorite TV shows back in the day). She told my parents the story was certainly imaginative, but a bit too gruesome for the other third graders.

Eventually, after a few aborted attempts at writing short stories, I gravitated to screenwriting (I hold an MFA in screenwriting). The idea of writing a book was simply too overwhelming, too intimidating. Oddly enough, when I finally worked up the audacity to write a book, it turned out to be a non-fiction piece dealing with religion.

I also write screenplays and teach film production, as an adjunct, at the University of Miami. When not writing or teaching, I operate a small video production company.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: B. Jay Gladwell

What compelled you to write your first book?

B. Jay Gladwell: The inspiration for What’s Wrong With Mormons? grew out of the countless falsehoods and gross inaccuracies being perpetuated by the opponents of the Church. In the year 2007 (when the book was being written) we had a member of the Church running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. There was the broadcast of a lopsided, inaccurate documentary about Mormons on PBS. There was a weekly television program, about an obnoxious doctor with a supporting character who is a Mormon that perpetuated misinformation about the Church. On top of that, a group of evangelicals produced a video, distributed it on DVD, and claimed it was produced “out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ and love for our Mormon and Christian friends.” Yet the video contains a thoroughly dishonest portrayal of the Mormon faith, using smear tactics and religious bigotry to perpetuate the same tired half-truths and misinformation that have been used for over 175 years. As a result of all this, the Church has been brought to the forefront of the news. And, if I may speak frankly, it got very tiresome reading and hearing and seeing what other people—non-members—outside the Church were claiming our doctrines to be. How ridiculous! The only thing more ridiculous is giving credence to such individuals and their falsehoods and half-truths.

As I mentioned above, a member of the Church was running for the Republican nomination for president. There were endless articles about that candidate and nearly each one, in one way or another, brought up the issue of “Mormons as Christians.” This concern was most prevalent among evangelical Christians. One such article spoke about a recent survey that showed many of these evangelicals were drawn to this candidate’s values but repelled by his Mormon faith. Can you see the irony in that statement? Isn’t that like saying, “I like apple pie, but I am repulsed by apples”? How can one accept the teachings of Jesus Christ but reject the Savior?

Think about it. How many times have you read or heard how people really admire Mormons for their family values, yet their teachings are abhorrent. Mormons are held in high regard because of their work ethic, but the Prophet Joseph Smith was a scoundrel. Mormons are respected for their moral points of view on chastity, honesty, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, yet their doctrines are of the devil. Mormons are appreciated for their humanitarian contributions and the goods and services provided in the wake of natural catastrophes around the world; nevertheless, they aren’t Christians. Where has there ever been a greater contradiction of thought?

In light of the above, this book was written as my attempt to answer the simple question: “What’s wrong with Mormons?”

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

B. Jay Gladwell: Let me put it this way: I’ve always wanted to tell stories (fact or fiction). Like I said above, my first attempt at writing was in the third grade. I really enjoyed that little exercise. Good writing, not necessarily great writing, can elicit emotions from the reader. That’s cool, being able to push people’s buttons in a positive way.

There were subsequent stabs at writing, each of which ended after only a few pages. As all of us are keenly aware, writing is not easy. Wanting to do something and having the discipline to sit down and do it are two entirely different things.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

B. Jay Gladwell: I know this may sound like kind of corny, but holding your first book, once it’s published, is not unlike holding your first child. Being a man, I’ve never experienced childbirth, but when it comes to bringing a book into the world I guarantee there are labor pains involved. The only thing that tops that is your first sale. To think that someone was actually willing to part with a portion of their hard-earned cash to buy your book and read it, that’s truly humbling!

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

B. Jay Gladwell: It depends on what I’m writing. While writing this book, there were hymns softly playing the background.

When I’m writing screenplays, for instance, I listen to soundtracks of films from the same genre.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

B. Jay Gladwell: The desire, or maybe need would be a better word, to get my message out before anyone who’s willing to read it. A belief in what I have to say is the real motivation.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

B. Jay Gladwell: My marriage. Fortunes may come and go (and I’m still waiting for the first one to arrive), friends may abandon you, children may disappoint you, but my wife, Churé (pronounced Shu-ray), and I are deeply and everlastingly in love. She is, without a doubt, my best friend and greatest supporter. Our marriage has been a total success.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

B. Jay Gladwell: The books that really got me hooked on reading were the Hardy Boys. I spent most of my summers as a kid reading those books. Books—fiction or non-fiction—take you places and show you things you’d never experience otherwise. Reading is a wonderful vicarious experience!

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

B. Jay Gladwell: Frankly, it’s been several years since I’ve read a fiction book. The last two novels I read were books a former student of my mine, Kerry Jamieson, wrote and got published in the UK. Both were excellent, I must say.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

B. Jay Gladwell: It was June of 2007 when I got the idea for the book. In July I started gathering my thoughts and made an outline of what the book would actually be about. Then I started writing later that same month. The first draft was complete by the end of November. Actually, I was surprised at how quickly I got that first draft written.

The book was released on July 23 of 2008. So it was right at a year from inception to release.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

B. Jay Gladwell: Again, that would be my wife Churé. She’s always had more faith in me than I’ve had in myself. She’s been very encouraging throughout our thirty-three years together.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

B. Jay Gladwell: If it’s possible, I have no control over others, I would like to help bring people together in the spirit of mutual understanding. We don’t have to agree to get along. We can agree to disagree agreeably. Hopefully, I can contribute to the creation of an environment in which all people, regardless of creed or color, can come together and learn about each other from one another, rather than from their enemies.

Think about it. If I want to get to know you, what your thoughts and beliefs are, who would you rather I ask, you or someone who isn’t particularly fond of you?

How has having a book published changed your life?

B. Jay Gladwell: It hasn’t. It’s my opinion that one stands a far greater chance of having his or her life changed from reading a book! It’s not the sharing of an idea that is life-changing; it is the receipt and successful implementation of the idea that changes lives.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

B. Jay Gladwell: Chapter 10 of the book, “The Burden of Proof”, opens with a quote from the motivational speaker and author Napoleon Hill. He said, “No accurate thinker will judge another person by that which the other person’s enemies say about him.” That pretty well sums up my hopes for the book.

If just one person reads my book and walks away with an accurate understanding of what Mormons believe and why from a Mormon’s point of view, then it’s been a success.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

B. Jay Gladwell: Actually, I’m finding that being a “published author” is a tad embarrassing. All those who have read the book so far (and I’ve not heard from everyone) have had nothing but compliments. The other day I was approached by a gentleman who had read my book. He told me how much he enjoyed it. I thanked him. Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there. He kept going on and on it great detail about what he liked. After each compliment, I genuinely thanked him. It didn’t take long before I became very self-conscious, as others were standing near by.

The book was not written to draw attention to me, but to what I perceived the problem to be.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know?

To order your copy of What’s Wrong With Mormons? go to :
www.whatswrongwithmormons.com/order.htm.

You can also order the book from your local bookstore – and Amazon.com.

Hardcover: 232 pgs.
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Price: $21.95 + shipping
Publisher: Cold Tree Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-58385-279-8
ISBN-10: 978-1-58385-279-4
Publication date: July, 2008
Genre: Non-fiction/religion

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One comment to Interview with Author B. Jay Gladwell

  • Dorothy Thompson  says:

    Wonderful interview! Thanks for hosting him, Michelle!

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