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Tell Me Who I Am

 With Latter-day Saints in the spotlight as never before, we have an unprecedented opportunity to share our faith with those curious to learn more about what it means to be a Mormon. The recently released book,Tell Me Who I Am, is an anthology of stories and essays depicting everyday life for everyday Mormons. I spoke with DeNae Handy, editor of and contributor to the collection, about the book's beginnings, and what she hopes Tell Me Who I Am will achieve.

Elisa Scharton: Where did the idea for the collection come from?

DeNae Handy: Last year, the question of Mormons and Christians came up on the national stage, and I felt that perhaps it was time to show, rather than tell, the world that we really are followers of Christ. We can call ourselves whatever we want. But our lives and the stories that come from them really speak to our discipleship or lack of it. I pitched the idea to several of my writing friends, and they very enthusiastically agreed to contribute to the project.

ES: How many writers contributed to the book? Anyone we might know?

DH: Well, I hope you know most of them! Luisa Perkins, Becca Wilhite, Ken Craig, Annette Lyon, Topher Clark, Melanie Jacobson -- we have a total of sixteen writers. All write in their own voice, telling their own stories in their own ways. The point was to share individual experiences, not necessarily to preach sermons.

ES: So, no proselytizing, then?

DH: No. Absolutely not. I told the writers that the one rule was that their work shouldn't sound like an article from the Ensign, or a chapter out of Preach My Gospel. I think we accomplished that.

ES: What kinds of stories are included in the collection?

DH: Oh, we have all sorts. Funny stories, stories about adoption, dealing with loss, raising families, being single in the Church -- there's something in here for just about everyone. And renowned artist (and contributing writer) Jana Winters Parkin designed the book and did all the illustrations. They're beautiful.

ES: How can people learn more about your book?

DH: You can visit my publishing website or read about it here.

ES: Anything else you'd like to add?

DH: Just that this book came together so beautifully, so seamlessly, I've felt from the beginning that it was something that 'needed' to be written. I hope everyone who reads it comes away having been uplifted somehow, and also having learned a little bit more about what it means to be a Latter-day Saint. We're not out to convert anyone to Mormonism. We just want to tell you who we are.


Editors note: I read this book last night from cover to cover and I have never had an anthology of essays affect me the way this one did. One minute I was laughing hysterically and the next I was crying the ugly cry. These essays are powerful and moving. Nothing preachy-preachy here -- just honest essays from real people. They speak to the very heart of the "Mormon Moment" and say exactly who we are-- people doing the best that we can.  

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