Guest post: Ilie Ruby
Last year, I read and enjoyed Ilie Ruby’s first book, The Language of Trees, and was lucky enough to interview Ilie afterward. I’m excited about her next book, The Salt God’s Daughter, which will be released on September 4, 2012 and I’m thrilled to have this guest post about the book from Ilie.
I wrote THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER entirely at night, while my children were asleep. This story absolutely captured me—it wouldn’t let go. I had been reading about four young girls who were bullied and who could no longer stand it. As I researched their stories, that number grew to ten girls. Then seventeen girls. There are more. I wrote their names out on a piece of paper on my desk, and I felt a strong sense of purpose. There was no way I was not going to tell their story. Like most women and girls, I had once been the victim of gossip, too, until I took my power back.
There are sensitive themes in this book. There is real life—harsh and glaring. There is lust and sexuality. There is attack and recovery. There is magic and enchantment, as the story is woven with a Scottish folktale and Jewish mysticism. This is where my passion for stories lies—in weaving lyricism and magical realism with real life issues that speak to me, that move me, those things that most often reveal raw truths about love, healing, and the evolution of identity. I wrote this book, not only to tell a beautiful story, but to give voice to every girl who has ever been tested—who has been called out, named, bullied, lied to, lied about, and gossiped about. And who has found the strength to stand up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
My main character, Ruth, embarks on a journey of discovery and survival. She lives in an enchanted landscape filled with the spirits of sea lions, with unspoken histories caught in the wind, where lipstick kisses are lost in glass bottles, and where men rise out of the ocean, more rogue animal than, well, regular men. When Ruthie has a daughter who is born “different,” with a secret that connects her to the ocean it will challenge everything she believes about who she is, and the nature of the maternal bond. Truth, love, sex, art—all these things are at the heart of this book. It is also a book about the right of women to be more than “one” thing.
Here’s an excerpt from The Salt God’s Daughter:
We kicked our cowboy boots up on the empty chairs, confident there was nothing to be saved from. We were not holding our breath, hoping to be found. We had climbed out from under the weight of our childhood. We had already won.
We wanted to be not like some girls. We wanted to be all girls, all those who would come after us, and all of those who had come before. We wanted the questions asked by women generation after generation. We wanted to hold the labels in our hands, to turn them around, to take them apart. The need to label was the need to diminish. Supplicant. Seductress. Slut. You could only be one thing. That was the rule. You had to choose. Or it would choose for you. We’d been raised with the need to know where we stood. We wanted to draw lines andyet our spirits bucked at the thought. We craved what dwelled inside the circle, and we craved the circle itself, to cross it, and to be that lovely curved line that found itself where it had begun. We ached to capture the essence that was ours, to run like mad with it, holding it like a kite with colored tails in the air. We wanted to feel the light of youth under our feet as we ran.
They were probably thinking us loose girls, with our blue eyeliner and damp red hair, the women at the table next to us, the ones with the long hard stares.
That burning tree. That apple orchard. That strawberry field. That stone with wings. That girl. The one you sneered at. The one you judged. The one that might be you.