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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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U alumna discusses ?Torn?

By Joseph Simmons, Staff Writer

U alumna and author Zoe Murdock read and discussed her new fictional book about fundamentalist Mormon polygamists, Torn by God, Saturday at the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.

Murdock’s book tells the story of a family living in a small Utah town in 1959 who gets involved with a polygamist group after the family’s father has a vision. In writing the book, Murdock drew upon her own real-life experience living in a polygamist community as a child. Murdock grew up in the community that was home to The Alta Academy, an institution that gained notoriety recently for its ties to Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamist sect.

“Although the book is fiction, for me, everything in it is true,” Murdock said. “To write the novel, I kept working with my memory, pulling together the story from bits and pieces of my life.”

Although Torn by God features multiple characters involved in polygamy in the small town, Murdock expressed herself largely through the book’s protagonist, 12-year-old Beth.

“(Beth) is a hybrid of my older self and my younger self,” Murdock said. “Through Beth I was able to return to the past to view the events of my childhood through her innocent eyes, without the judgment that comes with experience.”

Murdock attended the U in the 1980s and met her husband in the graduate creative writing program. Both of them write fiction full-time and teach advanced fiction writing workshops in California.

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