Snow Dust and Boneshine follows a granny witch who forms a bond with a wandering cowboy that has an alluring secret. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
Not long ago, I lived in Wyoming, and I met so many fascinating people with an amazing balance of grit and heart. Becoming one with the brave souls on the prairie for a moment in time absolutely informed the development of Snow Dust and Boneshine. Equally as powerful in the development of Snow Dust and Boneshine was my connection to my ancestors and all the memories of my granny when we lived in the rolling hills of Appalachia together. I wanted to honor my granny and pay my respects to the many forms of healing and caring for those in need.
The idea of a granny witch was imaginative and developed creatively. How did you come up with this idea and how did it change as you wrote?
I decided to write Snow Dust and Boneshine as an homage to the granny witches in the Appalachian community where I grew up. My own granny was a powerful source of inspiration for me as I wrote this book. I really wanted to capture the spirit of folk magic and folk medicine because it’s a different kind of magic. I think it’s one of the most beautiful aspects of Appalachian culture, and I really wanted to connect with my roots and my ancestors. I wanted to share this story with others because it’s an historical glimpse into a community and a culture, their beliefs, their perspectives, and their desire to help and heal those in need.
The story takes place in Wyoming in the 1800’s. Why did you pick this time and place to tell your story?
I’ve always been intrigued by the wild west, which was probably a driving force in me moving to Wyoming and living there for a few years. The magic of old man winter, the tough as nails people, the golden grass in the summer, the bluebirds and the adventure – all of these things inspired me to capture the beauty and the perils of prairie living. Also, I love 1800s argot. It’s not every day that I get to use phrases like “splendiferous, moonlighting, swacked, among the willows, and a bag of nails.”
This is book one in The Chronicles of Granny Witch. What can readers expect in book two?
At the moment, the second book is still a mystery even to me. I have some ideas about where to go with the storyline, but as always, I’ll let the story flow and reveal itself in its own good time. I do think the second book will answer the inevitable question: Will Patrick return to Purgatory Bend next summer, and/or will Fawna marry Dezi? One of the scenes I’m most excited to write is when the traveling circus comes to Bitter Valley!
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A lone wolf waits outside the house the night Fawna Belle Darling is born. He knows what her mother, Isleen already understands–Fawna is the granny witch. In her home in Purgatory Bend, Wyoming, young Fawna is blessed with a mother who teaches her the ways of their world. As Fawna grows and matures, it becomes increasingly obvious that Isleen was correct–her daughter is special. When Patsy wanders into her life, she is faced with the realization that he may not be who he thinks he is, but Fawna knows. She, true to her nature, must be the one to tell him and to help him understand.
Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch, by Grendolyn Peach Soleil, is the first book in a series. The story centers around Fawna, who is a granny witch. Her life in the Midwest in the mid 1800’s in nothing short of fascinating. From her birth in the 1830’s to her experiences as everyone’s go-to for potions, advice, and healing, Fawna is an integral part of her community.
One of the most striking aspects of her life as a granny witch is her responsibility to ghosts, or vespers. Throughout her life, Fawna is able to see them for what they are when no one around her is able or aware. Her gentleness when addressing Patsy and her ability to help him grasp the reality of his situation is enthralling. Soleil’s writing is riveting and the entire storyline surrounding the two characters is gripping.
One of the parallel storylines caught my attention and stuck with me long after finishing the book. Pearl, desperate not just for love but also for a family approaches Fawna for help. I was truly touched by the way Fawna went about making a potion for her and giving her hope for her future. Soleil’s writing is much more than a fantasy–it’s a story of love and faith.
Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch is a short read, but it is packed cover to cover with an engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and touching events steeped in fantasy with a bit of romance thrown in. I look forward to many more installments and new adventures involving the granny witch and those in her small, tucked away Wyoming town. Fawna Belle Darling is a unique character and one to follow.
Pages: 125 | ASIN: B08RGG5JQ3
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The Mermaids Melt at Dawn spins several yarns into a mythical story that combines many different genres. What was the initial idea behind this book and how did it change as you wrote?
When I started writing The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, I was inspired to begin the story like an old fairy tale. I also wanted the story to be somewhat tethered to reality, especially in the beginning, so I combined my passion for vintage fairy tales and historical fiction. Rok, a Cajun boy growing up on the bayou in the 1800s, was the first character to enter my imagination, and from there, the story transformed into a nautical adventure to Barbiche Island. I have always been fascinated by mermaids and Greek Mythology, so I decided to add a flair of mythology as well.
I am drawn to stories where humans, gods, and creatures coexist. I think there is something incredible about Rok, a real human, witnessing the mermaids of Barbiche Island. Rok lifted the veil between reality and fantasy and tasted the magic that humans so often dream about. As I wrote The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, I tried to capture the magic sensation we feel when we see the first snowflakes of winter or when we catch the first wave in the ocean.
Yarn 8 is my favorite from the book. Do you have a favorite yarn?
As I created different yarns and characters, I was curious to see which ones readers would enjoy the most. Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, Yarn 8/The Curse of Rhodanthea is a fan favorite and the most treasured yarn. Yarn 8 happens to be my favorite yarn as well. Of all the characters, I think Rhodanthea embodies a beautiful brokenness and a humble strength. For me, she is the perfect blend of human, god, and creature features. My second favorite yarns are Yarn 7/The Maiden and The Lyre and Yarn 9/The Rot Spine Monster. I had so much fun writing them, and they brought back fond memories of reading Greek Mythology as a child.
Each yarn seemed to focus on a different theme or had its own feeling. What were some emotions or feelings you wanted to capture in your stories?
Each yarn captures different emotions, moods, and personalities. Much like vintage fairy tales, each character can represent the light and dark aspects of ourselves. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn illuminates common archetypal patterns that are shared by all humans. Some of the experiences I tapped into are anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, love, humility, jealousy, joy, revenge, and remorse. I also crafted the story with some moments of surprise and horror as an homage to fairy tales and mythology, which were not rainbow and butterfly stories. They often had grim and shocking endings. Who could forget when Little Red Riding Hood found the granny wolf in bed, or when the old witch planned to stuff Hansel in the oven?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to write a paranormal romance! My next book is in the early stages of the creative process, but characters and scenes are coming to life more and more every day. I hope to release my newest book within the next 6 months, and maybe it will be in time for Valentine’s Day!
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The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a modern-day fairy-tale written by Grendolyn Peach Soleil. This book weaves an intricate tale that follows many intriguing characters. It starts with the story of one little boy named Rok, who grew up with his grandparents. His grandmother is rumored to be a sea witch. Rok hears about a fantastical story from his grandfather about the island of Barbiche, also known as the land of the mermaids. The story then changes from different points of view to follow mermaids and others people to illustrate how beautifully connected everyone is, from gods to humans.
Soleil writes a breathtaking story with a dark mythology that captures the imagination. The descriptions of mythical creatures is intriguing. Each chapter is broken up into its own ‘yarn’ that provides its own mythical backstory to a fantastical creature or fanciful events. They seemed like old stories passed down for generations. The emotions jump right off the page. In Yarn 8, there is a love story where you can feel the truth and depth of the love. This part of the book is my favorite; it left me breathless because it was told so beautifully. The story is told with an artistic flare that evokes emotion and requires your imagination.
While consisting of beasts, mermaids, gods, and magic, this story gave me the same feeling I had watching Disney’s Pinocchio as a child. All folklore has some myth behind it, add a dash of horror, and you have some of the best fables we all cherish. Grendolyn Peach Soleil channels this same folkloric energy into her book. As the reader travels closer to Barbiche, the spun tale gets darker and darker still. There is so much loss in a book that gives so much life. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is an imaginative adventure over the sea, filled with fantastic creatures, and guided by childlike wonder.
Pages: 112 | ASIN: B08D92PFKY
Limbo Jubilee follows Neala as she experiments with what it means to be human as her panic escalates with every page. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I experienced an existential crisis, the gut punch of grief, at a formative age in my life, which inspired me to write Limbo Jubilee. I wrote Limbo Jubilee as an ode to my family, my ancestors, and the misty mountains where I grew up. I wanted to illuminate the intricacies of culture, trauma, and healing. I wanted to share the message that humans can be the curse and the cure and to not give up on each other as tempting as it may be.
My granny taught me that it hurts to be human, and pain is inevitable, but she also taught me that what matters most is how I respond to my pain. Humans are masters at avoiding, ignoring, and numbing their pain in all sorts of destructive ways. Humans are sly creatures and can spread their pain to others along the way. Humans are also incredibly good at getting so stuck in their pain that they can’t imagine living life any other way, but my granny taught me to face my pain with courage. Writing Limbo Jubilee was my way of transforming my brokenness into something beautiful.
Neala is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I was born in Appalachia where the line between fairy tales and memoirs is imaginary. What many people call fairy tales and folklore, I call reality. Folk magic is as real as the rolling hills in West Virginia. My granny talks to the rivers, the sunflowers, the moon, and the stars, and she believes that they talk back to her. Granny’s mountain medicine is not a complementary or alternative medicine for me. In fact, there is nothing as powerful as the first sip of granny’s elderberry tonic on a cold, October night by the campfire.
Neala’s character reflects my own experiences growing up in Appalachia where magical realism is a way of life. It is a reality of its own. The human brain constructs memories and narratives, and to some degree, all memoirs are imaginary, existing in the planes of shared realities and unique realities. Memoirs are cultural artifacts, spinning tales of who we are and where we come from. Neala’s character reflects the values and beliefs of her culture, shifting between different voices and different planes of reality. Is she the alien or the human? The little girl or the therapist? The healer or the wounded? The sinner or the saint? Neala is all of them, and she writes in a style that is authentic to her experience.
The way that humans experience the world is based on so many different factors. Naturally then, readers will have a variety of reactions to Neala and to Limbo Jubilee. As for me, Neala is a raw and real character with both light and dark qualities, and at its core, Limbo Jubilee is a story of empowerment and healing.
What were some themes you felt were important to explore in this book?
Limbo Jubilee is a visionary celebration and explores visionary and metaphysical themes. Limbo Jubilee is a metaphor for being human and alien, earthly and otherworldly, broken and blessed, and all in the same breath. To be in the wheelhouse of visionary and speculative fiction with incredible authors like Margaret Atwood is a dream come true for me.
Limbo Jubilee provides observations and commentary on society. For example, it discusses the pressure for women to have children and how having children is viewed as normal and human. The alien living on planet Spry is a metaphor for how women without children can be viewed in our culture. Limbo Jubilee also explores and challenges the normalcy of addiction, as well as the black-and-white thinking that leads to extremes.
Limbo Jubilee is the anthem for creatures of the in between, shedding light on both earthly and sacred dimensions and exploring religion and spirituality. There are moments in life when we are fully present in our humanity, and moments when we morph into a creature feature, and moments when we shine as bright as the golden gods of eternity.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am very excited to reveal my next book, The Mermaids Melt at Dawn. I am currently waving my magic wand and putting on the finishing touches. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a departure from my brain-busting and heartstring-pulling debut novella, Limbo Jubilee. I don’t want to spoil the mystery, but I’ll offer a quick teaser. Close your eyes and imagine a rowdy Cajun from Louisiana, a pair of warring mermaid sisters, a greedy Poseidon, petulant gods, and a magical island called Barbiche. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a melting pot for Cajun fairy tales and Greek Mythology. It will be released in late July or August 2020!
Neala’s surreal story begins in the backwoods of St. Roscoe, West Virginia. Neala’s hero is her Aunt Betsy, who saves the day in a pair of red cowgirl boots. Neala’s life is forever changed as she witnesses the death of her Aunt Betsy. Neala longs for a love that will heal her wounds, so when she meets Brick, she is tempted to cross the imaginary line, but she finds herself in a dangerous limbo. Neala’s spooky voyage transports her to the fringes of reality where she flirts with some creepy-crawly surprises. While a macabre sickness hunts Neala down, she experiments with what it means to be human. Neala’s panic escalates with every page, but could her paranoia be grounded in wisdom?
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Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Grendolyn Peach Soleil, kindle, kobo, Limbo Jubilee, literature, metaphysical, mystery, nook, novel, psychological, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, time travel, writer, writing
Soleil’s novel Limbo Jubilee is a psychological drama written from the perspective of the West Virginian born Neala, who has to overcome the trauma and loss inflicted upon her at an early age and later becomes a psychologist in Arizona while still trying to find herself and her place in the world. While I won’t spoil it entirely, I do have to point out that she isn’t entirely successful, and the book becomes a narrative that slowly unwinds in the same way she does. Slowly, until finally it spirals to a fitting conclusion at the end of the book.
I was quickly taken in by Neala’s story, even as it is interwoven with her growing madness as her psyche breaks down. I was able to easily empathize with her character. You want her to pull through, and heal herself, like she promises she should at the beginning. Neala means Champion—the heroine should be a champion—but midway, as she begins to unravel you know it’s going to end in tears as she loses touch with reality, becomes convinced that she isn’t real, and eventually loses herself bit by bit until there is nothing left except something she has called the “Choisi”. This is wistful and somewhat somber but utterly compelling.
The book and narrative reminds me a lot of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam because I felt like it carried much the same tone. Fans of Atwood’s work in that series will enjoy Limbo Jubilee as I did. In between the rational and recognizable are snippets of what really is happening.
The start of all of this is heavily foreshadowed in the first chapter, beginning with her trying to help her dying Aunt Betsy, and it is in this chapter that the seeds of her eventual anorexia and the lifelong battle with it are planted, as are the seeds of what will come later in the book. I had to read the beginning a few times to catch all the colorful nuances and each time I did, I found another snippet and hint of the prods and disconnects that eventually are Neala’s undoing by the end of the book. While it isn’t a book for the faint of heart, it is definitely one with plenty of potential that needs to be on the bookshelf of anyone that appreciates a complex and thought-provoking read. Not one word isn’t there that doesn’t serve a purpose — Limbo Jubilee has been masterfully written.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B07ZTTK6BB