Aug 27 A Utah book publisher has drawn criticism
for shelving a young-adult novel after its coauthor demanded his
gay partner be mentioned in a flap-jacket biography.
Writer Michael Jensen said the company, Cedar Fort
Publishing, which focuses on books for the Mormon market, told
him that including mention of his boyfriend in the book would
risk upsetting bookstores it does business with.
The dispute between the publisher and the author, who grew
up in the Mormon church, underscores tension within the Mormon
community over homosexuality and public acknowledgement of
The book, "Woven," is conceived as the first installment of
a young-adult fantasy series. In it, a princess embarks on a
quest with the ghost of a young man to bring him back to life.
There are no references to homosexuality in the novel,
Jensen said. The 34-year-old author said he was "mortified" by
the publisher's decision to drop the book.
"I couldn't believe this was happening over the word
'partner,'" he said in a telephone interview.
Cedar Fort did not respond to phone and email messages
seeking comment. Company President Bryce Mortimer last week told
Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City that the decision to cancel the
deal was based not on Jensen's sexuality but his insistence that
it be referenced in his biography.
"Where it started becoming uncomfortable for us is where he
really started to push it, and almost use our company as a
springboard for supporting that," Mortimer told the station.
Coming to the author's defense were 53 Mormon writers,
including novelist and self-help writer Abel Keogh. They signed
an open letter this week expressing "disagreement and
disappointment" with the publisher's actions against Jensen.
Jensen said he was seeking treatment equal to that accorded
the novel's coauthor, David Powers King, whose wife was
mentioned in an author biography on the flap jacket.
Jensen said he chose Cedar Fort for the book in large
measure because of his friendship with its founder, Lyle
Mortimer. They shared passion for musical theater, he said.
The book was set to go to print in early August, but Jensen
said he was informed by email on Aug. 2 that his author
biography could not include mention of his gay partner.
Jensen said that in a follow-up phone call with Lyle
Mortimer, the publisher accused him of seeking to push his own
agenda and of ruining families.
Cedar Fort last week told Jensen and King it was returning
the rights to the book to them, Jensen said.
As word of the incident spread in recent days, Jensen said
that he and his coauthor have been contacted by a number of
agents and publishers interested in the book. "We're looking for
the silver lining," Jensen said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in Olympia, Washington, Editing
by Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Orlofsky)