Author Patricia V. Davis shares with us how her book, The Diva Doctrine, got caught between Liberals and the Latter Day Saints, and was subsequently banned.
Those of us who are in it know what a quirky business publishing can be. About four years ago, when I was 52, I wrote a blog post directed to a reader in her twenties, aptly titled “From an Older Woman to a Younger Woman.”
Dollymix.tv was the first to pick it up and then vibrantnation.com, although Vibrant Nation renamed it “Ten Things I’d Love to Tell My Younger Self.” The new title must have hit a nerve, because after that you could find that post everywhere, including in More magazine Indonesia, who translated it into Tagalog.
All the interest in that one little post landed me an interview with a major west coast newspaper and then with a high profile national radio talk show. And if this wasn’t head-spinning enough, a literary agent contacted me and offered me a contract to write a book based on the post which he would then represent.
With the agent’s help, I developed it into a tongue-in-cheek but motivational (I hoped) women’s empowerment book, called The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know. Within one month the agent sold the book to Cedar Fort Press. And here’s where this gets all the more unbelievable.
Cedar Fort Publishing and Media is a mid-size publisher out of Salt Lake City, Utah that has several imprints, some for mainstream readers and some for the Latter Day Saints (LDS) market. (You can see the types of books they publish at their website.) When I found out who they were I asked my agent if they knew that in addition to my being a women’s rights advocate, I was also a vocal gay rights advocate. He replied, "They know exactly who you are and they're fine with it."
Admittedly there was some sanitizing of the work by the Cedar Fort editor, and my signature “sassiness” if you will, is somewhat absent as a result. She politely asked that I change the word ‘asshole’ I’d used in the manuscript to something less harsh, and to change the phrase "drinking cosmos" to "drinking lemonade.” I was actually fine with all that, because the editor, a woman in her twenties also, gave me what I thought was a good reason.
She was sincere in her belief that it was an important book for women, and she wanted all her Mormon friends to read it. She didn't want them to be put off by the possibility that it might have some things in it that are against their beliefs. I could certainly understand that, and was really pleased she liked the book so much, so I honestly was only too happy to help.
However, life is truly stranger than fiction. A few weeks ago, my publicist, Jane Hunter, and I discovered something rather ironic, and the fact that this discovery was made during Banned Books Week was not lost on either one of us. But the irony is even more singular than that.
As soon as the book was released, we began to promote the title to women’s book groups and other women's empowerment organizations. Though the response for the most part was positive, I have to admit I was puzzled by the fact that several more liberal-leaning groups turned down the opportunity to review the book, including groups that had invited me in the past and who had been pleased with my talks.
It was when I asked Jane to pitch to one particular group, that we got some answers. Jane suspects that it was because they weren’t speaking with me directly that they came clean and confessed why they were turning me down, and that it was the reason I’d been getting turned down in some other quarters, too. When I heard what that reason was, I had to laugh.
Jane informed me that the group did enjoy my speaking engagement with them as much as I had thought and they did enjoy my first book, (Harlot’s Sauce) too. They were looking forward to The Diva Doctrine, but then, after much discussion, they couldn’t bring themselves to promote it. And that was because it was published by a group that does not support equal rights for all.
Well, well. Talk about a “queer” twist.
What did I learn from all this? First, that books get banned for all kinds of reasons and sometimes that reason has nothing to do with what’s actually written inside. Also, that I made the right decision to publish with a Mormon publisher, because to turn away from someone who doesn’t think exactly as you do only widens a gap, creating even more misunderstanding and intolerance.
Am I angry or upset? No. It would be very “un-diva-like” to be. In fact, I have to admit I am actually quite proud of the fact that I’m a gay rights supporter whose book on empowering women is being shunned by liberal groups because it was published by a Mormon publisher.
Patricia V. Davis is the author of the bestselling Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece, (Harper Davis 2008) and The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know.(Bonneville Books 2011) Her latest work and first published fiction, "Chopin, Fiendishly" appears in Tales From the House Band: Volume I. (Plus One Press 2011) Patricia works with Writers Digest as one of their platform consultants, but she primarily focuses on reaching (and hopefully inspiring) her female readers who need a friendly hand to help lift them up to where they want to be. She also is the founder of The Women's PowerStrategy Conference. You can find out more about her at: www.patriciaVdavis.com.