Cornish Linguistic Expert Helps American Author

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Joy Stevenson, expert linguist coaches American author, Robert Foster, in correct Cornish dialect for his novel, Fort Zion.

Robert Foster knew that in order to be as historically correct as possible in his Novel, Fort Zion, two of his characters, Will and Elsie Morrison, immigrants from Cornwall, England, needed to speak an authentic Cornish dialect. Foster did what many authors do not bother to do; he consulted with an expert, Joy Stevenson, who lives in Cornwall, England, over 4500 miles from Bob Foster’s home in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Joy Stevenson is a leading authority on the Cornish dialect. Hollywood stars, authors, historians and broadcasters have consulted with Mrs. Stevenson, who many call the “linguistic magpie.” She has studied the Cornish language and dialect for almost thirty years and she is a retired dialect recorder for the Old Cornish Federation. Mrs. Stevenson carries a deep commitment to keeping the Cornish language alive and responds to people from all over the world who contact her for advice. Author, Robert Foster, was fortunate to find Joy Stevenson, who helped make his characters in Fort Zion come alive through the richness of the Cornish language and culture.

Accuracy in language is only one of the fine qualities that make Fort Zion a good read. The book is a fictional account of the first wagon train of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to immigrate to the Great Basin in present day Salt Lake City, Utah in 1844. In the mid-nineteenth century, members of the Mormon Church in New York suffered religious persecution, which forced them to seek refuge on the frontier, first in Ohio, then Missouri, and finally, Nauvoo, Illinois. With every passing day, however, it was evident that to live in safety and to have religious freedom, they would have to keep moving westward. These hardy pioneers eventually migrated across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to the Great Basin. Many who made the long trek were from the British Isles, their journey starting with a three month crossing of the northern Atlantic.

"Fort Zion" opens with Joseph Smith, leader of the Mormon people, struggling with the difficult decision of whether to lead the Mormons farther westward away from the persecution and violence experienced in Nauvoo and other Mormon settlements, or to endure the increasing hostility from non-Mormons directed at those who sought to practice their faith. In 1844, Smith organizes a secret Wagon Train of volunteers to travel to the Great Salt Lake to determine if that remote area would be far enough away from religious persecution to live peaceably and whether the area was suitable for the 20,000 Mormons who would follow to build their homes and raise their families.

In Fort Zion, the author gives the reader an accurate portrayal of Mormon life in the 1840s and the issues surrounding the Mormon migration to Utah. He also adds conflict and adventure to the story as the first Mormon Wagon Train, led by a non-Mormon ex army officer and Mountain Man, travels across the Plains on what would later become known as the Mormon Trail.

contact sue shcrems for a review copy of Fort Zion, 405-364-9647

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Sue Schrems