Over the years I’ve been a librarian, pastoral minister, a non-fiction writer, and a mom. Now I’m the author of Blood Seed, book one of the Coin of Rulve series; and Night Cruiser: Short Stories about Creepy, Amusing or Spiritual Encounters with the Shadow.
Blood Seed, my first novel, stitches literary fantasy and tender romance into the fabric of the dark spiritual journey. Eighteen-year-old Sheft grows up as the despised foreigner in the backward village of At-Wysher. But the quiet, intuitive young man has another, darker reason to keep himself apart. Because of an incident that occurred when he was only a boy, he fears there is a deadly connection between himself and an entity that emerges from the nearby Riftwood to terrorize the village. Yet, beyond what he had ever dared to dream, Mariat breaks through his self-imposed isolation, and the two fall in love. But Sheft can’t bring himself to tell her the truth about his deepest fear. A shocking revelation about who he really is hits him hard, and leads to the heart-breaking discovery of what his destiny demands.
Night Cruiser consists of ten of my short stories about ten different people who must deal with their shadow, the dark side of themselves they don’t want to face. What is “the shadow” they encounter? For Isabel, it’s the whisper from the basement that invites her to come on down. For second-grader Emma, it’s the tortured spirit that has haunted her family for generations. For Deacon William, it’s the damaged android that frightens visitors in the retreat house halls.
We all have a shadow side, and the more we run away from it, the more we will project it into our horror movies, our fears, and even onto other people or groups. But, as the psychologist Carl Jung pointed out, those who meet the shadow’s challenge will discover an inner light.
Blood Seed won The Book Designer’s commendation for a best fiction cover in February 2016, and the silver seal for five stars from Reader’s Favorite Book Review. Night Cruiser includes several award-winning stories. Coming soon is Dark Twin, book two of Coin; and my wonderful critique group is helping me revise book three, Time Candle.
Why do I write about dark journeys? Because most of us, including me, are on one; and because I’ve come to believe that such journeys can lead to a distant light. The entire Coin of Rulve series has been called a dark fantasy, but I think two other words describe it better. The first I made up: “eclipsic,” meaning “like an eclipse.” I use the term to describe a seemingly hopeless event that leads to insight. You can’t see the sun’s amazing corona, for example, until it’s eclipsed by that black shadow-moon. Tolkien used a different word: “eucatastrophe.” This reflected his view that, as many biblical stories attest, even the worst catastrophe can be redeemed. I saw this in the lives of people I met as a pastoral minister, in the luminous writings of many of my favorite authors, and as I hope it is unfolding in my own life.
I started writing because I had to. I read so much, felt so much, and learned so much that the inner well just got filled up. Everything has to overflow somewhere, and for me it was in writing. My first “novel” was carefully printed on lined paper in grade school, and was what we’d now call fan-fic. My protagonist Theresa Todd was an awful lot like Nancy Drew. From there I wrote short stories, study guides, and inspirational non-fiction; edited an international newsletter; and finally, in 2003 began what now is the four-book series Coin of Rulve. I guess it’s just easier to say I write because I get awfully grouchy if I don’t!
When I was little, my parents, John and Gertrude, gave my sister and me a precious gift: My Book House by Olive Beaupré Miller. My Book House, published before I was born and still being read today, is a twelve-volume, fully illustrated anthology of the world’s great literature. The stories and poems it contains are arranged in order of difficulty for children as they grow. My parents struggled to pay the $50 it cost at the time, but to me the books were priceless. I still have them.
I grew up loving science fiction, gardening, cowboy heroes, and star-gazing. Later, I received a couple of master’s degrees that allowed me three different careers: as a librarian, as a pastoral minister, and now as an indie publisher. For twenty-six years I was the outreach coordinator for a Catholic church in metro Detroit that consisted of 1800 families. During that time I published a monthly social justice newsletter, The Lampstand. My husband and I have four children who are raising our four grandsons in a very fine manner.
Logical characters like Sherlock Holmes, Spock, or Data appeal to the practical side of my nature. I also have a more intuitive side, demonstrated partly by a reverence for myths. I have come to see not as fanciful tales made up for kids, but truths that resonate deep in the soul.
Two books in particular opened paths for me: Lord of the Rings and The Passionate God. The first, which I regard as one of the greatest fantasies ever written, led to my writing fiction. The second, a work of amazing theology by Rosemary Haughton, introduced some of the themes that appear in my books.
Many awesome things have happened to me: touching a grey whale off the coast of Baja, admiring the bronze plaque at 221B Baker Street, and—to my surprised delight as a club music fan—getting invited to dance solo onstage at Cancun’s Coco Bongo. I also stood within inches of hot flowing lava, crossed both the Arctic Circle and the equator, and felt in quiet moments the love of God. I often pray for more gratitude, trust, and patience!
I like dark chocolate, Star Wars/Trek, Better Made BBQ chips (made only in Detroit), and all kinds of olives. I think our US National Parks, especially Yellowstone, are among the most beautiful places on earth.