“Daughters of Ishmael” Author Commentary

coverI am hungry for more stories of women in church. As I was searching through The Book of Mormon for glimpses of unnamed women, I had the impression that I should write about them.

I immediately knew I wanted to first write about the daughters of Ishmael. I have long wondered if Laman and Lemuel’s wives were the women Nephi calls his sisters (who are only mentioned in 2 Nephi 5:6) that fled with Nephi into the wilderness following Lehi’s death. So I wanted to explore that moment when Laman’s wife chooses to go with Nephi instead of remain with her husband.

Initially, I was going to have Laman’s wife go with Nephi because she believed he was a prophet. Then I learned that I am not the first author to consider this. Orson Scott Card did it in Earthfall and Diane Stringham Tolley did it in Daughter of Ishmael. Also, one beta reader had a hard time believing that Mahalath would believe in Nephi after participating in the rudeness on the boat. So I decided to dial back Mahalath’s faith. In doing so, I discovered that I actually enhanced the conflict, and that was good, because leaving a spouse, even for the right reason, is not an easy choice.

Many thanks to my beta readers John Parsons, Emily Debenham, and Regina Layton.

This story is dedicated to Bridget, my sister in marriage.