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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 23, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Mar01

By Kent Larsen

The Last of Card? Tragedy Yields Writer's Block, Last Tour

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mormon science fiction writer Orson Scott Card candidly discussed his life and writing as well as the reasons why he has decided to make this book tour his last. He also revealed that he has been unable to write for the past five months.

The prolific Card is best known for his Nebula and Hugo-award winning novels "Enders Game" and "Speaker for the Dead." But beyond these novels, Card has drawn on his Mormon heritage for two series; the 'Homecoming' series which is based on the Book of Mormon, and the 'Tales of Alvin Maker' series, based on the life of Joseph Smith. He has also written several nonfiction works and regularly writes for periodicals. In fact, Card claims that more than half his writing each year is usually not science fiction. Despite the lucrative nature of his science fiction writings, Card has also maintained a commitment to religious writing, producing the novels "Stone Tables" (about Moses) and "Sarah" (about the wife of Abraham) in recent years.

But a recent family tragedy has left Card with severe writers block. Five months ago his 17-year-old son Charles died of the complications from cerebral palsy. "The whole family was at the beach, and he died, his heart stopped. But we were all together and he had two days where he was laughing and happy," Card describes his passing. "So if we were going to pick a time for him to go, and to be free of the body that had been a burden to him all his life, that was the time." But Card says that the death was particularly painful, and that book tours put him too far away from his family for too long, making the death even more painful.

His son's death also came just a few years after Card and his wife, Kristine, watched their premature baby girl die in their arms on the day she was born in 1977. "I've faced that now twice, and I feel . . . like that's my quota. I've told my children now that I if they die before me, I'm not going to their funeral. Their job now is to bury me; the next funeral in our family is mine." He adds that the deaths have had a profound impact. "[Losing a child] is the worst thing in the world. Once you have children, you realize that you are held hostage by those children. They are more important to you than yourself."

Card also admits that the tragedy is keeping him from writing, "I have not been able to write very much at all. And it'll be interesting to see if I can," he says. But the Tribune's Elder notes that Card doesn't seem as concerned about the writers block as most writers would be. Elder learns that Card's priorities dictate how he looks at the writer's block, "My priorities are first to be as good a father as I can to my children. . . . I try to be a good husband to my wife, a good Mormon, and after that, that's when I start trying to be a good writer, which is pretty far down the line."

Through these tragedies and through his successes, Card has remained a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes surprising interviewers as a result. "A lot of interviewers find it amusing or strange _ and I've had this surprisingly often _ but they'll assume that since I'm a writer of fiction, I must have left the church _ because you can't actually be writer or intellectual and some kind of artist and believe in one of these `primitive religions,'" Card says. "But in fact, I'm a believing, practicing, active Latter-day Saint and make no bones about it."

In the interview Card also discusses his social criticism, talking about his politics as a Democrat and his frustration with the party because of Bill Clinton, which led him to vote, he says for George W. Bush. "I try to understand [people], but that doesn't mean that I don't take sides," Card says. "Past interviewers expressed shock when they heard that I was a Democrat, an open-minded person, and was voting for George W. Bush. Why in world should I think just like you because I'm open-minded? That's what gripes me about so-called intellectuals in our society today: They judge whether a person is smart or not, not based on the rigor of his thinking or the process that he goes through, but based on where they reach the same conclusions as they do."


Last tour: Tragedy reschedules life of Sci-fi legend Orson Scott Card
Knight Ridder/Tribune 21Mar01 A2
By Robert K. Elder


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More about Orson Scott Card's "Sarah: Women of Genesis" at

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information