BYU Humanities story (50th Anniversary)

Marketing¬†Sterling Bridge is in full swing. I’ve got to get the word out about a great read to anyone interested. I wouldn’t want anyone who could benefit from this story to miss out. BYU Magazine will be mentioning me in its alumni section this Summer. The next few days I will post other outlets I have submitted to that might want to share my breakthrough:

BYU Humanities story (for their 50th year anniversary)*

As an undergraduate I began writing “Sterling Bridge,” an historical fiction film novel. It is based on the family history research of Don Norton, a retired English Professor at BYU. It is largely based on the true story of Sterling Harris, who is credited for bridging the bias between the Mormon Settlers of Tooele and the Catholic Mining immigrants thrust into their community right before the Great Depression, when jobs were at a premium.

I was tutored by Dennis Packard, Film and Philosophy professor, in the art of writing novels that could readily be converted to screenplays. He is a visionary, and at the time he was kindly assisting similar to how a book agent would and we had interest from publishers out of New York. I was devoting one night a week to writing through the night and my grades were suffering because of it. That’s when I met Brandon Mull, an aspiring author.

He was a counselor in the bishopric of my ward, as well as a student when his days with Divine Comedy were in full swing. We commiserated about the hard work it takes to breakthrough with our writing goals and dreams. On this occasion he had a lot of questions of me about writing and the path to authorship. Roles soon reversed, however, when Brandon’s Fablehaven series took off and he became a New York’s Time bestselling author. Now, of course, I was the one with all of the questions.

My project still had several historical questions to work out and it was put on hold for the next decade, as I crafted other stories, but I am happy to announce that “Sterling Bridge” will finally see the light of day. My circuitous path has brought me back to BYU to work as a Manager in the Harold B. Lee Library. And so, maybe it was fate, but I decided it was time to revisit and revive what once was dead. “Sterling Bridge” is set to be published by Cedar Fort Publishing on November 10th this year.

*Any BYU Humanities Alumni interested in sharing a story for the celebration should contact humanities.byu.edu

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3 thoughts on “BYU Humanities story (50th Anniversary)

    1. At the beginning I started with Don Norton’s family history research when Don was an English professor of mine at BYU. He had some information from genealogy, books, and newspaper clippings but most of the material was from firsthand accounts of the football players: audio interviews and transcriptions. Don had student research assistants compile the information. I went through boxes of information and pieced together whatever applied to this work.

      Unfortunately, in the dozen years or so since then, most of the original research was lost. My original draft and my work as an employee in the Harold B. Lee library has helped me to target my research specifically to the items of importance to what I needed to recover. Fortunately I was able to find the key pieces of research through an autobiography by my Point of View character. I am grateful I chose his perspective to begin with.

      I remember the fact that there was a lot of information from his perspective in the original research, which was one reason I chose him as the POV character, but in truth the main reason I chose him was because his mom was Mormon and his dad was Catholic and of anyone he seemed to be caught right in the middle of the main conflict.

      Naturally I wanted to see the story unfold from his angle, of how the main character–the hero–changed his life. Luckily I was able to find even more tidbits of research in the microfilm of old newspapers that enlivened the story even more. I’m still working on finding pictures of old Tooele. It is proving to be a daunting task. The newspapers and digital archives don’t carry quality original pictures beyond the 1940’s and even 50’s in that area, only the stories (and that is limited, too). I live nearby Tooele so I have had the opportunity to visit the setting and go to the library and a railroad museum to get a better feel for the layout from a distant time.

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