Debut novel celebrates the resilience of the human spirit

Mental health expert uses profession to craft uplifting coming-of-age story

Fremont, CA – In her debut novel, All I Know (Buckberg Mountain Books, June 11, 2024), Holly C. LaBarbera deftly tells the story of a young woman who overcomes childhood trauma and tragedy to try and build a life with the boy she’s always loved.

LaBarbera, a psychotherapist and professor, uses her extensive knowledge and experience to explore the complexities of romantic relationships as well as those within families and among friends, showing that love comes in many forms, including choosing to love oneself.

About the book: Kai Martin sees her life as a series of concentric circles—her twin brother Kade occupying the center sphere with her, their parents surrounding them in the next, and the Tyler family in the outer loop–a connection Kai plans to make official by someday marrying Josh Tyler. The Martins and Tylers share memorable times together, but under the surface, they are two dysfunctional families struggling with alcoholism, depression, and abuse, all of which leads to a devastating event that knocks Kai off her axis and makes her doubt everything she thought she knew.

Josh is there through it all, and Kai eventually gets the romance she dreamed of, embarking on a life of travel and adventure with the boy she always loved. Yet reality is more complicated than any childhood fantasy, and when painful family patterns are reenacted between them, Kai must decide how much of herself she is willing to sacrifice for Josh. Ultimately, she must confront the heartbreaking truth that as much as we try to help the people we love, we can only truly save ourselves.

Perfect for fans of Ask Again, Yes and Everything I Never Told You, All I Know is a celebration of indomitable spirit and finding faith in oneself.

All I Know

Holly LaBarbera | June 11, 2024 | Buckberg Mountain Books | Women’s Fiction 

Paperback | 979-8-9894929-0-9 | $14.99 

E-Book | 979-8-9894929-1-6 | $5.99 

Holly LaBarbera began her creative writing career with a lightning bolt of inspiration for her first book, the as-yet-unpublished Five Days, followed by All I Know, and is currently revising her third novel. Participating in the Community of Writers Workshop in 2018 significantly contributed to her growth and development as a writer both during her time there and through ongoing connections with other amazing writers who have become critique and accountability partners, both in formal and informal writing groups. Holly is a psychotherapist and an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University’s School of Counseling Psychology, guiding graduate students in becoming licensed therapists.

Holly was born in Hawaii, grew up just north of New York City, and now lives outside of San Francisco. She considers herself equal parts New Yorker and California girl, a loyal fan of the Yankees and the Golden State Warriors. She loves reading and writing and is old-school in both, enjoying the feel of holding a book in her hands and turning actual pages and also doing her part to keep the post office in business by regularly sending handwritten letters and cards, much like her debut novel’s protagonist Kai.

Follow Holly LaBarbera on social media: 

Twitter: @hollycoleen1 | Instagram: @hollytellsatale | Facebook: Holly Coleen Labarbera

In an interview, Holly LaBarbera can discuss:

  • How her experience as a mental health professional and working with clients similar to the Tylers and Martins helped shape the characters in her book
  • The importance of creating a realistic story based on the author’s experience as a mental health expert
  • How childhood and family-of-origin experiences impact adult relationships
  • The theme of resilience throughout the novel and communicating how to rise above life’s devastations
  • The theme of creating meaning in our lives and having faith in both self and others, and how that plays throughout the various characters in her story

Advanced praise for All I Know

“A heartbreaking yet uplifting story of the perils found in all families. LaBarbera deftly shows how childhood wounds and mental health challenges impact adult relationships. Protagonist Kai’s struggles will resonate with readers, as will the resilient human spirit that allows her to find hope, to overcome, and to grow into an ever-better version of herself.

-Robert Dugoni, critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police series, which has sold more than 8 million books worldwide and the coming-of-age standalone novel The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.

“In All I Know, Kai’s heartbreaking journey asks us to confront big questions about family and personal trauma: What happens when the people we love hurt each other? How does that shape our relationships with others and with ourselves? How do we move forward when we can’t forget the past? LaBarbera’s characters are as funny as they are flawed, and I couldn’t look away from their struggles to love each other as much as I loved each of them.”

-Claire Boyles, author of Site Fidelity, 2022 Whiting Award Winner in Fiction and Longlisted for the 2022 PEN America/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collections.

“A tender, thoughtful and heartbreaking story, ALL I KNOW is a snapshot of the inner heart. You will fall in love with Kai, a child struggling to decipher the complicated messages that come our way in route to adulthood. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s compelling through and through.”

Lee Kravetz, author of the novel The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. as well as acclaimed nonfiction, Strange Contagion and SuperSurvivors

“All I Know captures one woman’s heart-wrenching journey in coming to terms with her past, the trials of two, close-knit families increasingly caught in the web of addiction, and the ongoing struggle to overcome a heartbreaking loss. At its core, it is also a gripping tale of an epic love rooted in childhood, the quest to overcome mutual demons, and the courage to transcend dependency to embrace the possibilities of a new kind of love reborn of mutual respect, resilience, and humility. Readers will root for Kai (and Josh) every step of the way!”

-Susan Dugan, author of the short story collection, Safe Haven

All I Know is more than a family drama, more than a love story, though it is also both. It’s a moving novel of picking up the pieces after a family tragedy, contending with loss, talking to ghosts, and fearlessly pursuing love and happiness. Kai Martin, the novel’s heroine, reminds us that true connections can never be broken — not by time, change, or even death. Hopeful and unforgettable.”

Caroline Kim, author of The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, which won the 2020 Drue Heinz Prize in Literature, was long listed for both the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and the Story Prize, and was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and the Janet Heidinger Award for Fiction

“ALL I KNOW, Holly C LaBarbera’s immersive coming of age tale, explores what happens to young love as it ages. As we follow Kai through tragedy, transformation, and heartbreak, across the US and Europe, the novel reminds us of the joys and sorrows of self-discovery. A book on grief as much as love, ALL I KNOW won my heart and kept me up past bedtime until its final pages.”

-Amy Meyerson, bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects

.”..a book that amplifies the great feeling of success at knowing the human spirit is resilient….the author does a brilliant job at explaining how and why Kai makes the decisions she makes, and even if the reader would choose a different path, Kai’s point of view is understandable….the characters are very well developed with care and great depth. Not only are the characters well developed, the feeling the reader gets of family in the book is also deep. When some of the family–real or chosen–are not there, the reader feels the void.”

-LitPick review

“Young members of intertwined families forge a complicated bond in the tense coming-of-age novel All I Know. Early on, the book lingers on one-on-one interactions well, emphasizing its aching inter-family ties…the story is driven by the choices that each of the characters makes, with their complicated family intimacies best established via Kai’s maturing perspective.”

-Foreword Clarion Review

An Interview with

Holly LaBarbera

1. Why is this story important to you? 

This story is a way for me to honor all the difficult stories I’ve heard from the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with over the years, not to mention the personal experiences of friends and relatives who have been challenged in ways similar to the characters in my book, loved ones who have struggled with depression, addiction, trauma, codependency and grief. I have been inspired by their strength, courage and resilience, and wanted to create a story that shows all of the hardship and sadness and beauty and hope that are a part of life. 

I also love a good love story and wanted to write something that was romantic, yet went beyond romantic love to encompass the many forms love takes; exploring the depth of sibling bonds, the power of female friendships, the complexity of parent-child relationships, and the importance of loving oneself.

2. How does your background as a mental health expert inform the character and themes in your book, particularly in relation to the struggles of the Martin and Tyler families?

As a psychotherapist, I spend my days exploring relationships, learning what brings people together, keeps them together, and pulls them apart. I witness brave journeys of self-discovery and the difficult choices we are called upon to make, all of which I hope brings truth to my characters and their journey. I hear stories similar to those I created for the Martin and Tyler families, stories of trauma and suffering, of the ways in which our families of origin influence all our future relationships and the ways in which we move through the world. I also witness people overcoming all of that to become their best selves, as Kai does. Their stories inspired me.

3. Kai and Josh’s relationship is deeply influenced by the experiences they each had as children in their particular families of origin. How common is it that couples are impacted by how they grew up?

Based on my training and experience with the developmental model of couples therapy, Imago therapy, emotionally focused therapy and attachment theory, it is clear to me that couples are commonly (if not always) impacted by their childhood experiences. The ways in which our parents relate to us and to each other leave wounds and unfulfilled needs that we reenact with our adult romantic partners in an attempt to heal and fulfill our needs. The ways in which we moved through our own development or got stuck in one stage or another, influence how deeply and well we can connect with our partner. Kai and Josh exemplify all this.

4. How do you balance the fine line between addressing sensitive mental health topics in your writing while ensuring it resonates with a broader audience?

Characters in this story struggle with mental health issues including addiction, codependency, depression, trauma, grief, and the ways in which our families of origin impact our adult relationships. Almost fifty-three million people in the United States experienced mental illness in 2020, and seventeen million experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder that year; those numbers have quite likely grown since the pandemic. For those who have not experienced a mental health challenge themselves, they likely have been impacted by someone else who has, similar to the way in which Kai is impacted by Kade’s struggle. 

However, a primary theme of the book is resilience. Many of the hardships in All I Know stem from mental health issues, but the broader message of the book is about overcoming and rising above whatever difficulties life brings, to which we can all relate.

5. The search for the meaning of life is a significant theme in All I Know. How does Kai grapple with doubts and what role does faith play in her journey of finding the meaning of her life?

At the beginning of the book, Kai is a child who is certain of everything. As she experiences trials and trauma, she begins to doubt everything—her parents, herself, the viability of love and relationships. She comes of age trying to integrate the things she knows with the doubts she has, and cultivate the faith required to move through the world in a meaningful way. This includes both faith in herself and in others, learning not to sacrifice self for others. Empathy, support and deep connections are part of the fuel that powers Kai’s faith, strength and resilience, as it is for most of us.

6. What message do you hope for your readers to take away from All I Know?

This is a story about strength and resilience, rising from devastation to build and rebuild a life, over and over again. It is about the power women contain within themselves that is often buried and needs to be discovered. It reminds the reader of the power of female friendships, which can sometimes be more significant than romantic partners. It explores the heartbreaking truth that as much as we try to help the people we love, we can only truly save ourselves. I hope readers will get a sense of hope, inspiration and empowerment from reading All I Know.

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YA fantasy blends dystopia of “Hunger Games” with magic of “Crescent City”

Enthralling with lush worldbuilding, slow-burn romance in magical cacotopia

SPRING BRANCH, TX – Readers will be captivated by this spellbinding YA fantasy debut with a poignant message of hope and resilience. “The Last Refuge” by Christina Bacilieri (Crescent Ink Publishing, LLC, November 14, 2023) is the gripping first novel in the Stealing Sanctuary trilogy, weaving together the destinies of two dreamers caught up in a dark curse that spans generations. Bacilieri crafts a novel that is richly layered with tension, intrigue, and the mystique of forbidden magic. Enter a world of gripping adventure where love burns slowly, family is chosen, and hope is a dangerous yet beautiful dream.

Magic will transform you. Power could destroy you. 

Actions will define you.

Kiera Vandyer told herself she’d only agreed to this scheme for the money, that nothing else had drawn her to this venture, but you can’t lie to the truest parts of yourself. For sixteen years, she’s hidden her burning curiosity for magic, knowing that one misstep would mean certain death at the hands of Atterah’s merciless leaders: the all-powerful Ruling Board.

Just when Kiera is on the cusp of securing a stable future for herself and her mother, a cruel twist of fate forces her to commit the worst possible infraction. She trespasses over the border into Etabon, the last refuge for magic on Atterah. Once within, her rare form makes her a target for the warden of the site. To escape the warden and conceal her crime from the Ruling Board, Kiera must use her strange new powers to battle for her freedom…or die trying.

A suspenseful adventure that will engage readers to the final page.”  

–Kirkus Reviews

“The Last Refuge”

Christina Bacilieri | November 14th, 2023 | Crescent Ink Publishing, LLC | YA Fantasy

Print | 979-8-9886618-1-8 | $24.99 | Paperback | 979-8-9886618-0-1  | $14.99 

Ebook | 979-8-9886618-2-5 | $9.99


CHRISTINA BACILIERI: Christina Bacilieri is the author of the young adult fantasy “The Last Refuge,” the debut novel in her Stealing Sanctuary series. She’s a fan of all things magic and grew up on a steady diet of fantasy novels and pasta supplied by her loving grandmother. Christina studied marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio before working as a business relationship consultant and project manager. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her wandering through nature or taking in art at her favorite museums. She and her husband share their home in Texas with two snuggly pups and an abundance of books. Find out more about Christina and news of upcoming books in the Stealing Sanctuary series at her website. 

Follow Christina Bacilieri on social media: 

Instagram: @christinabacilieri | Tik Tok: @christinabacilieriauthor


In an interview, Christina Bacilieri can discuss:

  • How Bacilieri’s upbringing with strong female role models empowered her to write characters defying societal norms, central themes of self-discovery, empowerment, and resilience.
  • How Kiera’s journey embraces self-wholeness and the transformative power of inner magic; amidst societal fragmentation and pressure for assimilation, her story highlights unity in speaking truth to power, fostering freedom and hope.
  • The novel’s thoughtline of finding magic in individual differences, which was inspired by her childhood experiences of growing up with dyslexia. 
  • How books were a place of refuge and comfort for Bacilieri growing up and in turn inspired her journey as a writer. 
  • How writing this story brought healing and hope during her darkest time, following the loss of her grandmother, for whom the story was dedicated. This deeply influenced the theme of love, community, and friendship amidst adversity.
  • The striking parallels between Bacilieri and her main character: Kiera battles against her magical dreams, mirroring Bacilieri’s own struggle with imposter syndrome as she hesitated to embrace her dream of becoming an author.
  • How Kiera’s bisexuality showcases the power of writing a queer character whose identity isn’t the focal point of the narrative, but rather an intrinsic part of their multidimensional existence.

An Interview with

Christina Bacilieri

1. What inspired the concept for “The Last Refuge” and the rest of The Stealing Sanctuary series?

The premise of the book came to me in a dream. In the dream I watched as Kiera crossed over the border into Etabon and changed into her magical form. I’ve always loved books like the “Chronicles of Narnia”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “The Giver”, and “Harry Potter” so I feel the idea for this book had been growing in my mind for a long time. After I had that dream it sparked an idea to create a world where the beings were many different types of creatures cut off from their magic. I’ve always loved the “who would I become” idea. Like many people during 2020 and 2021 I was struggling with the loss of family and writing this book brought me a deep sense of hope, community, and resilience which I channeled into my characters and the series overall.

2. How did the strong women in your life, particularly your mother and grandmother, play a role in your inspiration for writing “The Last Refuge?” 

I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the love and guidance of the incredible women in my life, that is why I’ve imbued those characteristics into my FMC and her mentors. My mother was the first person to read the original handwritten draft of “The Last Refuge” and has encouraged me throughout my writing journey. My grandmother gifted me with my love of story. I would go to her house every Friday night to have dinner and swap stories (our favorite books, shows, and what happened to us that week). At her table I could be wholly myself – she loved me unconditionally. I dedicated this book to her because without her presence in my life I wouldn’t have had the courage to pick up a pen. Stories connected me and my grandma – now that she’s passed, I still miss her but when I’m experiencing a good story I can still feel her with me. Community and love are the foundation on which I built this book – I learned so much of that from her.

3. Why was it important to you to write a story of found family and community? 

As human beings, we all encounter moments of feeling like outsiders, and the sense of being unseen by those around us can be profoundly isolating. In my story, Kiera experiences a similar sense of being set apart even within the borders of Etabon. However, she discovers a group of beings who love and accept her for who she truly is. In a world where loneliness is increasingly prevalent, I aimed to create a narrative of hope, emphasizing that readers are not alone in these feelings. “The Last Refuge” underscores the idea that our differences are a source of magic and unity. Personally, it took time for me to find my closest friends, but once I did they became an essential part of my life and inspired the friendships within the story.

4. How did your experiences of struggling with dyslexia inform your journey as an author and writing this series? 

I struggled with dyslexia growing up and was bullied in grade school for it. After working with a reading specialist my struggle with reading turned into one of my greatest joys in life. There are times where dyslexia can still make writing frustrating but my relationship to it has transformed. If I’d never been given the opportunity to work one on one with a creative reading specialist I’m not certain I would’ve developed my deep wonder and appreciation for stories. Now, I could not imagine my life without them, each book I’ve read has shaped me in a different way. That is the beauty of storytelling – it allows us to experience the lived experiences of the characters on the page. We can grow alongside them traveling to magical places, feeling joy, or grief and ultimately becoming more empathetic people. My main character Kiera feels other for her differences – I want to share that our differences don’t have to define us but are a thread in the tapestry that make us who we are. Our challenges can forge a path to our triumphs.

5. What do you hope that readers take away from reading “The Last Refuge?” 

I hope my readers take away a sense of wonder from “The Last Refuge.” My goal is to immerse them in a world where they can lose themselves and escape into the lush worldbuilding and twists and turns of Kiera’s journey. Growing up, stories provided a safe place for me to dream and I want to create a similar haven for readers.

6. What’s coming next for Kiera and The Stealing Sanctuary series? 

Book two in the Stealing Sanctuary series will focus on the choices Kiera will be forced to make and the internal battle of the light and dark within herself. She will unravel secrets about her past and her future. To save the ones she loves, Kiera will not only have to call upon her magic like never before, but she must rely on the bonds that she’ll forge throughout her trials. There’s a darkness growing within the borders of Etabon, and if it’s unleashed upon Kiera’s world… not even the deepest love or strongest magic will set the scales of light and dark to rights again.

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A tender and witty reflection of living unapologetically in the face of terminal illness

Perfect for fans of “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb

SACRAMENTO, CAHow do you find joy when faced with a terminal diagnosis? Debut author Ann Bancroft tackles this theme with sharp humor and profound compassion in her new novel, “Almost Family” (She Writes Press, May 28, 2024). Featuring a rough-around-the-edges, quick-witted heroine who stumbles upon an unlikely, but necessary, found family; this debut deftly balances the existential questions raised by terminal illness with honesty and wry humor, reflecting the power of love to heal and foster growth even at the end of life. 

Liz Millanova has stage four cancer, a grown daughter who doesn’t speak to her, and obsessive memories of a relationship that tore her marriage apart.  She thinks of herself as someone who’d rather die than sit through a support group, but now that she actually is going to die, she figures she might as well give it a go. 

At a hospital-sponsored group, Liz hits it off with two other patients. Dave, a gay Vietnam vet, Rhonda, a devout, nice woman, and snarky Liz decide to ditch the group and meet on their own. They call themselves The Oakland Mets, and their goal is to enjoy life while they can. In the odd intimacy they form, Liz learns to open up and get close. The trio joined forces to have a good time – but what they wind up doing is helping one another come to grips with dying and resolve the unfinished business in their lives. 

“It’s a story that follows a remarkable trajectory from loneliness and heartbreak to lasting love. An often-resonant narrative of adversity and friendship.” 

— Kirkus Reviews

“Almost Family”

Ann Bancroft | May 28, 2024 | She Writes Press | Fiction 

Paperback | 978-164742-666-8 | $17.95

Ebook | 978-164742-666-8 | $9.95

Ann Bancroft began writing fiction after a career in journalism and communications. Her first job after graduating from UC Berkeley was as “copy boy” at The Oakland Tribune, at a time when there were few women in the newsroom. As a reporter, she worked in the State Capitol bureaus of the San Francisco Chronicle, United Press International and the Associated Press. She wrote editorials for The Sacramento Bee and was later appointed communications director for the State Department of Education. After a first bout of breast cancer, she retired early and began writing fiction, leading generative writing workshops, and mentoring breast cancer patients. She’s an alumna of the Community of Writers, the Tomales Bay Writers Workshops, and Everwood Farmstead artist’s residency. “Almost Family” is her debut novel, to be published when she is 71. Ann and her husband are avid travelers and hikers, and when not writing,she loves to cook and entertain. They live in Sacramento and Coronado, California. Find out more about her at her website.

Follow Ann Bancroft on social media:

Facebook: Ann Bancroft Author

Instagram: @bancroftann

TikTok: @annban24

In an interview, Ann Bancroft can discuss:

  • Why it is never too late to pursue a dream and what inspired her to become a debut author at 71 
  • How her experience as a two-time breast cancer survivor profoundly informed her writing 
  • The parallels between her journalism career and the rich narrative she crafts, drawing inspiration from her professional journey
  • How her concerns about addiction inspired an underlying theme of the novel
  • Why the concept of “found family” is so important and what compelled her to make that a cornerstone of the narrative

Advanced praise for “Almost Family” 

Almost Family is a book that comes right at the hard stuff with a whole lot of truth and even more humor. Ann Bancroft writes a beautiful story about love and the power of friendship to heal what the doctors can’t.”

— Jodi Angel, author of “You Only Get Letters from Jail” and “Biggest Little Girl”

“I found Ann Bancroft’s bracingly honest novel about three ordinary people wrestling with the end of life impossible to put down. Who would have guessed that dancing on the edge could be so much fun?”

— Hugh Delehanty, coauthor with Phil Jackson of the #1 New York Times bestseller “Eleven Rings”

Almost Family by Ann Bancroft is most certainly a literary masterpiece. . .There was so much to be felt, learned, experienced, and savored in this narrative. . . Each character was beautifully, intelligently portrayed and intensely believable.”

— Readers’ Favorite, 5 star review

“It’s a story that follows a remarkable trajectory from loneliness and heartbreak to lasting love. An often-resonant narrative of adversity and friendship.” 

— Kirkus Reviews

Almost Family is a well-written, thought-provoking story from a gifted writer.”

—Readers’ Favorite, 5-star review

An Interview with

Ann Bancroft

1. What compelled you to pursue writing fiction later in life? What has your journey as a debut author at 71 been like? 

I’ve always written stories, but since I was an eight year-old writing a crayon-illustrated sequel to Pippi Longstocking, my stories have always been based on reporting about other people, or inhabiting the voice of other people as a speechwriter and ghostwriter. 

I decided to try my hand at fiction when I retired early, at 57, and took some classes, beginning with a couple of short stories. I liked getting lost in the flow of imagination and that wonderful experience of falling in love with characters I’d made up. I did not start with a goal of writing a novel but the story kept growing and I kept at it until I thought it was done. It’s been through years of ups, downs, rejection, praise and revisions,through the pandemic and another bout of cancer. During a couple of years when I’d gotten discouraged and stashed this story in a drawer, I got halfway through a second novel, but this one, originally titled The Oakland Mets, kept calling me back.  

2. Tell us about how your experiences with breast cancer helped you write “Almost Family.” Why is the topic of end of life companionship important to you? 

Having been a reporter for much of my life, I tend to look at experiences through a reporter’s eyes. The experience of cancer was rich with anecdotes, from acts of kindness to the ways people responded to my post-chemo self, to the raw physical and emotional experience of getting through treatment. I was also a mentor to many cancer patients, through a hotline and as a one-on-one peer navigator for women going through treatment. So it’s something I feel confident writing about, and it felt good to explore my thoughts about it in writing.

Since my 30s, I’ve lost many loved ones to cancer, from both of my parents to two of my closest women friends, a boyfriend, a beloved boss, close work colleagues, neighbors – really, there was a time when people must’ve thought, “stay away from her, everyone she comes across gets cancer!”

But along with the awful parts of witnessing terminal disease, staying close to a person who is at the end of their life is a powerful, almost sacred experience. Once you get past your own fear and discomfort, you have the opportunity for a profound openness and connection unlike any other. That’s what I wanted my characters to experience.

3. How were you able to use humor in order to craft a story around a painful and sometimes taboo topic?

If you’ve ever experienced the irresistible urge to laugh at, say, a funeral or while wedding vows are being read, you know that things can strike you as funny even in the most inappropriate circumstances. There is a certain absurdity that underlies even Very Serious Situations, because life is often absurd, particularly when we’re trying to be very serious. I had lots of darkly funny thoughts while undergoing cancer treatment, and I wanted to bring that sensibility to my writing. Actually, I couldn’t help but bring that sensibility to my writing because that’s how I see things. Dark humor is my favorite genre.

4. What are some misconceptions you feel people have about cancer patients? Do you think that “Almost Family” will challenge those misconceptions?

I hope it will challenge some misconceptions. I hope it will make people more comfortable thinking and talking about terminal illness in this culture that is violent, but doesn’t deal well with mortality. 

Some common misconceptions – that once you have cancer, it defines you. That cancer patients can’t possibly want to joke around, or enjoy trivial things, or that because they have cancer they can’t also be worried about their jobs and relationships, or be troubled by that stupid thing they said or annoyed at the long line at the grocery store.  Also, even while cancer can help a person grow emotionally, it does not confer sainthood. Cancer doesn’t automatically make you see the light and become the very best human being you only imagined you could be. That’s why Liz is a character with many flaws who continued to make errors in judgment even after her first cancer diagnosis.

Of course cancer casts a huge shadow, but even when it’s stage four, it’s not the only thing in a person’s life. Life, for better or worse, does go on until you die.

5. How did your previous career as a journalist translate to becoming an author? 

Being a journalist helped me to see details, to empathize and, of course, to write clearly and quickly. What it didn’t do was teach me how to write from my imagination. I had to work pretty hard at that, but my experience in prompt-writing workshops helped a lot. I had to pay attention to my career-long tendency to summarize events, rather than slowing down and showing them, and I really didn’t get, early on, that speed doesn’t count in the painstaking process of getting a book ready for publication. 

6. What do you hope readers will take away from reading “Almost Family?” 

First of all, I hope they’ll laugh and maybe cry with the three wonderful characters who came to inhabit the page. I hope they’ll get more comfortable thinking and talking about cancer. For those many people who have experienced cancer either personally or with a loved one, I hope they’ll feel seen and heard, and that they’ll also laugh even if they cry along with Liz, Rhonda and Dave.

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Founder of pregnancy loss app hopes to provide comfort with release of candid memoir exploring grief

Bloomington, MNEmbark on a poignant journey through the pages of “When Skies Are Gray: A Grieving Mother’s Lullaby” (May 21, 2024, She Writes Press), a compelling memoir by psychotherapist Lindsey Henke. Lindsey is the visionary founder of Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS), a nonprofit offering crucial support for parents navigating pregnancy after a previous perinatal loss or infant death. Her writing has been featured on Huffington Post and New York Times and she has been interviewed by USA Today and Romper. Lindsey’s candid narrative intimately unfolds her heart-wrenching stillbirth journey and the subsequent grief that enveloped her world.

“It really does get better, but not in the way you think. Your life and heart grow bigger to hold both loss and love.”

Newlywed Lindsey joyously anticipates the arrival of her first child, only to be confronted by every parent’s worst nightmare: the devastating news of her baby’s silent heartbeat. The pages of “When Skies Are Gray” navigate Lindsey’s agonizing odyssey through loss, portraying the simultaneous dance of mourning and the anticipation of new life. This heartfelt memoir serves as a comforting companion for mothers worldwide who may be navigating their own path of grief.

Through Lindsey’s personal experience, the book delivers a poignant message: the pain of loss is undeniably real, but with time, the sharp ache of grief softens. Yet, the love for the child lost endures, offering solace to grieving mothers everywhere. In the tender pages of this memoir, Lindsey assures readers that it’s not only permissible but essential to embrace that enduring love—an everlasting lullaby that echoes the timeless truth: a mother’s love never dies.

“When Skies Are Gray: A Grieving Mother’s Lullaby”

Lindsey Henke | May 21, 2024 | She Writes Press | Memoir 

Paperback | 978-1-64742-630-9 | $17.95 

Kindle | B0C9HSZDP6 | $8.99

Advance Praise for “When Skies Are Gray”

“A poignant remembrance with therapeutic underpinnings.” 

—Kirkus Reviews

“Through When Skies Are Gray, Lindsey cracks wide open the stigma that parental grief and bereavement are topics avoided in the ‘mommy-verse.’ The reality is not every mother leaves the maternity ward with a healthy newborn. Not every birth story can be wrapped up in a perfect pink or blue bow. But through Lindsey’s words, you’ll find there is beauty in talking about the sad stories, too. Her love for her daughter Nora lives on through each and every page.”

—Jane Chertoff, former editor of Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine

“A compelling memoir about the loss of a baby and the love that lives on after death. Lindsey Henke brings beauty and lightness to even the darkest moments of a bereaved mother’s broken heart. If you are a bereaved mother, you will feel seen and comforted, and if you love a bereaved mother, you will gain a glimpse into her deep grief in this breathtaking book.”

—Anna Whiston-Donaldson, New York Times best-selling author of 

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Love and Loss

“Lindsey has turned her grief story into an exquisite and moving love story about being a bereaved mother yearning for what should have been while she learns to embrace what is. This poignant memoir contributes to the social movement of destigmatizing grief by reminding us that grief is just love.”

—Dr. Jessica Zucker, psychologist and author of I Had a Miscarriage: A Memoir, a Movement 

When Skies Are Gray is an essential memoir for bereaved parents. In this visceral and visual account, Lindsey Henke shares her experience of pregnancy, loss, and healing. She captures the duality of life, its joys and sorrows, in this authentic, lyrical, and heartfelt story. Sprinkled with wit and wisdom on every page, this honest memoir feels like coffee with a friend. When Skies Are Gray is an invaluable companion on the unpredictable path of motherhood.”

—Alexis Marie Chute, author of the award-winning memoir 

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss

“This book is a must-read and a must-gift for anyone who has suffered loss or has loved someone who has. Lindsey’s words are so thoughtful, so poignant, so carefully placed on the page. She gently takes the reader by the hand and doesn’t just show them the way through grief, but walks with them. Lindsey, and her writing, are truly a gift.”

—Galit Breen, codirector of Listen to Your Mother Twin Cities

When Skies are Gray is a powerful story sharing the loss of a baby and the struggle of living on. Written with grace and vivid descriptions of the journey of the loss of Nora, Henke shares her climb back into a life that will never be the same alongside her continued bond and attachment to Nora. Although written mainly for bereaved parents, this book can provide helpful insight to health care providers’ understanding of parental grief. I am privileged to endorse this book.”

—Joann O’Leary, PhD, prenatal parent-infant specialist and author of Meeting the Needs of Parents Pregnant and Parenting After Loss

“Sincere, heartfelt, and real, Henke’s memoir is grief and love woven together, inextricably. Her wisely chosen and descriptive reflections belong to each bereaved parent, and all who support them.”

—Amy Wright Glenn, founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death and author of Holding Space

“Full of bravery, wisdom, and insight, When Skies Are Gray is a tender retelling of resilience. My heart ached and tears flowed as Lindsey welcomed me, as both a reader and a friend, into her invisible motherhood… While every reader may not know the loss of a child, Lindsey’s words offer something to us all.”

—Rachel Lewis, author of Unexpecting: Real Talk on Pregnancy Loss

“Deeply moving, When Skies Are Gray is a testament to the fierce power of a parent’s love—a force unbreakable even in death. A sterling new addition to the babyloss library, Lindsey Henke’s candid account of loss, despair, hope, and healing should be required reading for the newly bereft. Not to miss!”

—Samantha Durante Banerjee, founder and executive director of PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy

When Skies Are Gray comes from Lindsey’s unique viewpoint, grounded in her own experience as both a grieving mother and therapist whose knowledge couldn’t prepare her for the unfathomable loss she experienced… Bereaved parents reading this memoir and those who have not experienced this loss personally will find her story illuminating while also learning strategies for navigating life and pregnancy after loss.”

—Kiley Krekorian Hanish, founder of Return to Zero Center for Healing


Lindsey Henke is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in the grief that accompanies life transitions. She founded Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS), a nonprofit for parents pregnant after a previous perinatal loss or infant death. Her writing has been featured TODAY, Pregnancy and Newborn magazine, Huffington Post and New York Times.

Lindsey lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where during winter she can be found with her nose in a book. The rest of the year she enjoys hiking with her two living children and husband. Find out more about her at her website.

Follow Lindsey on social media: 

Facebook: @LindseyMHenke | Instagram: @LindseyMHenke 

Pregnancy After Loss Support Instagram: @pregnancyafterlosssupport


In an interview, Lindsey can discuss:

  • How she navigated life after stillbirth grief, including learning that grief doesn’t go away, you just make room for it
  • Love and grief’s endurance and resilience when journeying back into pregnancy after baby loss
  • How to harness the power of writing for healing purposes
  • How to discover joy and illuminate life’s path after stillbirth loss
  • Ways to guide mothers who are navigating grief and loss, with compassion and insight

“I had learned grief was just love longing for its beloved—my keepsake for loving.”                              –Lindsey Henke, When Skies Are Gray: A Grieving Mother’s Lullaby

An Interview with

Lindsey Henke

1. How did you navigate the aftermath of your daughter’s stillbirth and find strength to endure?

What helped me the most during the aftermath of my daughter’s death was writing. Putting my pain onto paper and expressing my grief through words became the path toward healing for me. This was further bolstered by a supportive community of fellow bereaved parents. Additionally, I prioritized self-care by nurturing my grief, practicing self-compassion, and purposefully moving through the world at a slower pace in the days, weeks, and months following my loss. Seeking therapy was another crucial step in finding understanding and validation during this challenging time.

2. What guidance would you offer to parents facing a similar loss, based on your own experience?

I believe the most important part of grieving the death of a child as a bereaved parent is honoring the need to sustain the bonds of attachment and continuing the relationship with your child who died. This can be done by incorporating rituals that feel right for you and your family into your daily life, which serves as a form of connection to your child who passed away. These rituals help us, as bereaved parents, realize that our child will not be forgotten. For instance, lighting a candle on your child’s birthday, writing letters to them, or participating in acts of kindness in their honor, can assist in maintaining a connection that validates they did exist and that they do matter. Finding ways to continue this bond with your child who died is probably the most important way of tending to your grief as you move toward healing.

3. In what ways did the process of writing your memoir contribute to your personal healing journey?

Everyone’s path toward healing is different, and research indicates that expressing grief through creative outlets, aligned with an individual’s unique style of grieving, is one way of processing pain. For me, writing became that crucial outlet. It served not only as a means of expressing my grief but also allowed me to continue being Nora’s mom. On the page, I could still parent her daily as I wrote. Sharing her story with the world is my way of publicly proclaiming that I am still a mother, that I am still her mother.

4. What key message or insight do you aspire for readers to glean from the pages of your memoir?

It might sound cliche, but my biggest hope for my memoir is that it can help validate and acknowledge the pain of other bereaved parents, making them feel seen and understood in a world that often shies away from witnessing their suffering.

5. Can you share your post-loss journey and the transformative moments that led to finding peace and joy after the loss of your daughter?

The moment that transformed my mourning into post-trauma growth and, ultimately, acceptance occurred about five months after Nora’s stillbirth when I no longer perceived my grief as suffering. Instead, I began to view my grief as love for my daughter that will never die. This change in perspective was achieved by surrendering to my mourning—the crying fits, the physical ache in my empty arms, and the new normal that sucked. Surrendering to all of it created a shift, which helped me reach the conclusion that my grief is just love for my daughter—a keepsake for loving her. This realization of creating space for grief as love eventually resulted in creating space for joy to resurface in my life, too.

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Former U.S. intelligence officer and award-winning author pens latest book in The Able Archer series

Sarasota, FL–Following the success of his award-winning debut novel, “The Able Archers”–hailed as “a fast-paced ride” by author Jack Carr and “a revelatory thriller” by Kirkus Reviews–former U.S. intelligence officer Brian J. Morra is back with a thrilling sequel: “The Righteous Arrows” (Koehler Books, April 16, 2024).

In the hotly-anticipated second installment of The Able Archer series, readers reconnect with American Kevin Cattani and his older Soviet counterpart, Ivan Levchenko in the mid-1980s for a chilling Cold War saga of superpower confrontation. After Cattani barely escapes with his life from an East German bunker, he and Levchenko find themselves on opposite sides of the Soviet Union’s brutal war in Afghanistan, where Cattani supplies the Islamic resistance with advanced weapons to kill Russian troops. In facing new homegrown adversaries, both men question the roles they play in the deadly superpower duel. 

“The Righteous Arrows” is an electrifying story of risky competition and the enduring legacy of the global war on terror that will appeal to readers who love thrillers and dynamic historical fiction.

“The Righteous Arrows”

Brian J. Morra | April 16, 2024 | Koeler Books | Historical Fiction, Military Thriller 

Hardcover | ISBN: 979-8-88824-282-7 | $31.95

Paperback | ISBN: 979-8-88824-280-3 | $20.95

Ebook | ISBN: 979-8-88824-281-0 | $7.99

Praise for “The Able Archers”…

“Brian J. Morra is the master craftsman. ‘The Able Archers’ is brilliant.”

–Former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

A powerful reminder of the value of human judgment and the continuing peril posed by nuclear-armed powers.”

–Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense 2006-2011

“Possibly the most important book to be published this year.”

–General Bryan Doug Brown, United States Army (Retired), 7th Commander US Special Operations Command

A fast-paced ride through one of the worst crisis periods of the Cold War. . . . a terrifying yet factual story of how a few people prevented a global nuclear war. “

–Jack Carr, Former Navy SEAL Sniper, #1 New York Times Best-selling Author

“As compelling as it is informative and as entertaining as it is terrifying” 

–NY Journal of Books

“A revelatory thriller with edge-of-your-seat, end-of-the-world suspense.” 

–Kirkus Reviews

About the Author…

BRIAN J. MORRA: is a former U.S. intelligence officer and a retired senior aerospace executive. He helped lead the American intelligence team in Japan that uncovered the true story behind the Soviet Union’s shootdown of Korean Airlines flight 007 in September 1983. He also served on the Air Staff at the Pentagon while on active duty. As an aerospace executive he worked on many important national security programs. Morra earned a BA from William and Mary, an MPA from the University of Oklahoma, an MA in National Security Studies from Georgetown University, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.  He is a senior fellow and member of the  Board of Regents of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank that specializes in how advanced technology influences  national security. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, the world’s preeminent think tank focused on air and space power in the 21st Century. He has provided commentary for CBS, Netflix and the BBC. His debut novel, “The Able Archers” won a National Indie Excellence Award for Military Fiction, and was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Learn more at: www.brianjmorra.com 

In an interview, Brian J. Morra can discuss:

  • How his experience as a U.S. intelligence officer informed his new career as a novelist
  • His experience as a consultant for Netflix’s “Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War”
  • The true story of how a few people prevented a global nuclear war in 1983, as portrayed in book 1
  • The true story of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, as portrayed in book 2
  • How the events from both books connect to foreign policy today

An Interview with

Brian J. Morra

1. How did your experience as a former U.S. intelligence officer prepare you for writing The Able Archer series? 

My books are based on my time as an intelligence officer.  So, my experience is of fundamental importance to the material in the series and to the development of the two main characters Kevin Cattani and Ivan Levchenko.

2. What was the research process like? How much of these novels are factual?

I rely first on my own memory and then attempt to validate or fix my memory through primary source material. These books are historical novels so I don’t feel a need to get everything precisely correct as one would do writing non-fiction; however I want my books to be ‘right’ on the main historical facts, so a fair amount of research is required. However, as a writer I do take certain liberties so that the action doesn’t lag for the reader.

3. In “The Able Archers,” Kevin Cattani and Ivan Levchenko work together to prevent a global nuclear crisis, whereas in “The Righteous Arrows,” they find themselves at odds with one another. What is the significance of their shifting relationship?

The relationship of Kevin Cattani and Ivan Levchenko is central to the story and it evolves and morphs over time. The two men are metaphors for the broader state of relations between Moscow and Washington and East and West, so the twists and turns of their friendship are crucial to them and to the entire saga.

4. How do the events of the 1980s, as depicted in books 1 and 2, relate to foreign policy today?

Same as it ever was, unfortunately. The relations between Moscow and Washington are as fraught today as they were in the 1980s. I think there is a direct correlation to the challenges we face today in Ukraine, the Middle East, and East Asia. A key difference with the 1980s is that we have more than one nuclear adversary to worry about today and the United States is relatively weaker now.

5. What’s next for you and The Able Archer series?

We are doing our best to get the limited TV series of “The Able Archers” launched. I will be appearing in the new Netflix documentary series this spring called “Turning Point: the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War.”  I am also preparing the third book in the series for publication next year; it is called “The Wallbreakers” and concerns the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall. I hope The Able Archers series provides a context for our policy makers to think about the long-term consequences of their actions. Mostly I am just having fun with it all and I hope my readers are, too!

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Hirsch Giovanni re-releases mid-century author Fritz Peters’ books, saving a pioneering queer author from obscurity

LOS ANGELES, CA – Hailed as “an undiscovered LGBTQ classic” (Matt Donnelly, Variety), Fritz Peters’ 1951 novel “Finistère” is getting a worldwide re-release in June 2024 from publishers Hirsch Giovanni. Despite being a bestseller in its time with over 350,000 copies sold, “Finistère” has largely fallen out of public consciousness. A pioneering work of queer literature, “Finistère” was one of the first to depict the tragedy of gay life as rooted in society’s rejection and misunderstanding of the Other rather than in the perceived immoral behavior of its protagonist.

In addition to being a trailblazing queer author, Fritz Peters was also acclaimed for his frank depiction of trauma relating to WWII military service and the medical response to treating PTSD in his 1949 book, “The World Next Door.”

In order to give Fritz Peters the recognition he deserves, Hirsch Giovanni is re-publishing five of his most revered literary works as well as working with director William Gazecki to develop a documentary centered on Fritz’s life and work.

“Fritz was a renowned writer who deserves to be known… his books are transcendent works of literature with unforgettable, sensitively rendered characters from riveting times and places.” 

– Alexandra Carbone, Managing Editor for Hirsch Giovanni’s Fritz Peters’ Collection

The Complete Fritz Peters Collection…

“The World Next Door”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Literary Fiction

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-12-8

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-13-5

Originally published in 1949, “The World Next Door” is a stream of consciousness account of a psychotic break from the perspective of a WWII veteran.

“Mr. Peters has done a thrilling piece of work, which this reader, once having begun it, could not put down.”  –Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize winner

 

“Finistère”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Literary Fiction

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-08-1

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-09-8

Originally published in 1951, “Finistère” is Fritz Peters’ LGBTQ masterpiece. The book follows a young man who falls in love with his teacher.

 

“The Descent”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Literary Fiction

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-06-7

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-07-4

Originally published in 1952, “The Descent” is a vivid look at post-WWII America with observations on the battle of the sexes.

 

 

“Boyhood With Gurdjieff”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Nonfiction, Memoir

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-04-3 

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-05-0

Originally published in 1964, “Boyhood” explores Fritz’s relationship with the guru Gurdjieff during his troubled formative years.

“A real treasure… Not only is it full of amazing anecdotes, it is also full of wisdom. The wisdom of life.” –Henry Miller

 

“Gurdjieff Remembered”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Nonfiction, Memoir

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-10-4

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-11-1

Originally published in 1971, “Gurdjieff Remembered” is a sequel to “Boyhood” taking place shortly after WWII.

 

 


Meet the Hirsch Giovanni team…

CHRISTOPHER ADAMS is a British-American playwright and screenwriter based in the UK. His plays include Cooked (Bread & Roses Theatre, 2015), Antigone (Actors of Dionysus, 2017), and Tumulus (VAULT, 2018 | Soho Theatre, 2019). He currently has a television project in development with FilmNation and a film project in development with Hirsch Giovanni.

Christopher was a member of the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme (2011) and Studio Writers Group (2013), the Arcola Theatre’s writing group (2015), and the Orange Tree Collective (2015-2016). His full-length and short plays have been performed in London, Birmingham, Dublin, and Shanghai. His plays Lynchburg (2013) and Haunts (2015) were long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize.

In his academic life, Christopher holds a PhD in mid-twentieth century queer publishing history from the Institute of English Studies, University of London. He is a co-editor of The Collected Works of John Ford: Volumes II & III (OUP). He teaches on the ‘Introduction to the Principles of Descriptive Bibliography’ course at Rare Book School (University of Virginia), and has written on John Ford for the Globe Theatre. He is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar.  

ALEXANDRA CARBONE is a graduate of Haverford College. She is Creative Executive at Hirsch Giovanni Entertainment, where she is documentarian for Unapologetically Fritz, and managing editor for the Fritz Peters Collection.

Follow Hirsch Giovanni online:

Web: www.hirschgiovanni.com | Instagram: @hirschgiovanni


In an interview, managing editor Alexandra Carbone can discuss:

  • The art of re-releasing classic books for a contemporary audience
  • The strides that Fritz Peters made as an early pioneer of queer literature
  • How PTSD influenced Fritz’s life and what revelations he made about mental illness in his books
  • Who Gurdjieff was, what he believed, and why he was so influential to Fritz
  • The process of creating a documentary centered around Fritz’s life and what has been most surprising to learn thus far

An Interview with

Alexandra Carbone

1. What drew you to Fritz’s work, and why do you think his books will resonate with contemporary readers?

Fritz was a remarkable writer with a perceptive, authentic voice. Between his life experiences in WW2, childhood spent in the lap of spiritual and literary visionaries, struggles with mental illness, and identity as a queer writer, he has a unique perspective that he communicated with a remarkable clarity and depth. The characters in his books, from a troubled WW2 veteran locked in a VA mental ward, to a dangerously misunderstood gay teen in 1920s France, to himself, as a boy, being raised by his mentor Gurdjieff, are profoundly and touchingly presented. It is compelling literature that did not make it into the canon, and we are rectifying that.

2. What strides did Fritz make as a gay writer publishing books pre-Stonewall?

Fritz wrote “Finistère,” a gay bestseller in 1951. It was remarkable in its unapologetic portrayal of a gay teen driven to drastic acts by a family and society who judged and discriminated against him. It frankly asks how someone discovering their homosexuality can come-of-age in a society that has no place for a gay adult to love, or even freely exist. It’s a remarkable novel that happens to be a gay novel. As such, it spoke both to gay readers of the time, who had little access to such material, and for gay people of the time, who were often judged as perverse or ill. It is a highly personal and sensitive account, vulnerable and profound.

3. Can you tell us about Gurdjieff, who he was, and why he was so influential to Fritz?

Gurdjieff was a renowned guru and spiritual leader, who believed that if the east and west did not learn from each other, humanity would destroy itself. Born in Armenia in 1866, his life spanned till the mid 20th century, in which time he studied with many different esoteric groups throughout the middle east and Tibet. When Fritz’s parents divorced and his mother had a nervous breakdown in the early 1920s, he and his brother Tom were sent to Gurdjieff’s school in Fontainebleau France, by his aunt Margaret Anderson and her lover Jane Heap. They were publishers of The Little Review, in Gertrude Stein’s salon circle, and Gurdjieff followers. Fritz’s stay there is the subject of his book, “Boyhood with Gurdjieff.” Gurdjieff’s school was not a boarding school for children, it was more of a spiritual community, and Fritz, with his interest in psychology and human behavior, became Gurdjieff’s assistant, cleaning his room and helping care for him after an illness. Gurdjieff became a father figure for Fritz, and he was raised so closely by him at such a sensitive time that the lessons and philosophy he taught him, in a very hands-on way, would resonate for the rest of Fritz’s life and in his writing. Gurdjieff also, mischievously, named Fritz his “True Son” and rightful heir to his wisdom. This gave Fritz a certain contested, controversial status in the community–a mantle that Fritz struggled with for the rest of his life.

4. How did WWII affect Fritz, and what important revelations about PTSD and mental illness did he make in his books?

Fritz was a sensitive youth anyway, and spending time in enemy fire highly traumatized him. As he recounts in “Gurdjieff Remembered,” this was mainly because he had a few experiences where he was the only one who survived a strafing or bombing. He was drafted in the last few years of the war, and when he got out went almost straight into a VA hospital in the midst of a psychotic break. This experience was the subject of his first novel, “The World Next Door.” This book is remarkable for its stream-of-consciousness style, written from the point of view of a severely mentally ill patient. As such, many in the medical field found it a useful book, to be able to see things from a patient’s perspective. He also subscribes to the school of “a breakdown is a breakthrough” and feels that he gained some wisdom from experiencing that fractured state.

5. What is the documentary process like, and what have you learned so far?

We have interviewed people who knew Fritz and experts who were fans of his work. We have learned intimate details about his character and background, and have validated the assertion that his work was all highly autobiographical. Fritz’s life and work are highly intertwined, lending his writing the validity and freshness of truth. It’s also been sad but interesting to learn how he ultimately succumbed to his demons, essentially drinking himself to death, despite providing us with some impeccable writing especially when he was younger. The volatility in his youth – which included some shocking instances of abandonment, physical abuse, and even incest – surely account for this sad outcome, setting him up with obstacles he would only ever temporarily overcome. Fritz was somehow more human than most people, in every sense, in his strengths and weaknesses, powers and failings.

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Gripping coming-of-age novel asks: What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

“Silver’s unusual perspective and wide range of material are enough to make this a memorably offbeat debut. So is the palpable struggle that he captures on the page.”

New York Times, for “Backward-Facing Man” (HarperCollins, 2005)

ASHEVILLE, NC –Celebrated for his “complex, beautifully turned-out thriller” debut (Publishers Weekly), Don Silver is back on the literary scene with “Scorched” (Holloway Press, May 7, 2024), a portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age and a gripping look at what happens when he tries–and fails–to outrun his past.

When 14-year-old Jonas Shore’s father unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, he tries to support himself and his mother by selling weed and tranquilizers at parties. After a short, successful run, he’s busted and sent to a boarding school for fatherless boys. 

At Lafayette Academy, Jonas and his four roommates vow to have each others’ backs for life, but that promise is broken the weekend before graduation when they’re drawn into a violent encounter that results in a man’s death. Twenty years later, when one of his old roommates shows up unannounced, Jonas is forced to confront his complicated past once and for all.

“Scorched”

Don Silver | May 7, 2024 | Holloway Press | Literary Fiction

Paperback | 978-09857673-2-7 | $12.99 

Ebook | 978-09857673-3-4 | $6.99

Praise for Don Silver’s “Backward-Facing Man”…

“an illuminating and entertaining book about the notion of idealism”

Pittsburgh Tribune

“A dark elegy for ’60s campus radicalism and its turn toward violence in the years that followed, Silver’s debut novel is a complex, beautifully turned-out thriller… The plot has real bite”

Publishers Weekly

Gritty and intense… has that caught-breath momentum that keeps the reader in for another page, another page, another page, right to the finish.”

Sven Birkerts, author of “The Other Walk” and “The Gutenberg Elegies”

About the Author…

DON SILVER has been a musician, talent scout for a record company, record producer, business person, and consultant to CEOs. He has an MFA from Bennington College. His first novel, “Backward-Facing Man,” published by Ecco/HarperCollins, was hailed as “memorably offbeat” (New York Times) and “illuminating and entertaining” (Pittsburgh Tribune) and was described as having “real bite” (Publishers Weekly). His second novel, “Scorched,” will be released in May 2024. Originally from Philadelphia, Don lives in Asheville, NC. Learn more at www.donsilver.net.

 

In an interview, Don Silver can discuss:

  • What inspired him to write “Scorched,” a gripping coming-of-age story
  • His writing process, including his tips for fellow writers
  • How he blended elements of a thriller within a literary novel to create an edge-of-your seat read with great emotional depth
  • How family dynamics shape a person’s decisions and identity
  • Whether or not anyone can truly outrun their past
  • What he hopes readers take away from the book

An Interview with Don Silver

1. What inspired you to write “Scorched”? 

I had a buddy whose father died when he was thirteen. I remembered the effect this had on him into middle age and wondered what it would be like to lose a parent at that age if you had a lot of anger toward them. I started getting a picture of a character, then decided to set it in the 1970s when I was that age. The story unspooled from there. 

2. What’s your writing process like?

When I write, it’s 7 days a week. When I take more than a day off, I tend to lose connection to my characters and it’s harder to intuit dialogue and know what happens next. Early on in “Scorched,” I became a full-time single parent of a seven-year-old, so I learned to focus for short periods of time, sometimes only an hour or two. 

3. “Scorched” is undoubtedly a literary novel, and yet it has a gripping, propulsive ending as Jonas’ dark past finally catches up with him. What do you hope to achieve by blending literary and thriller techniques?

I’m interested in characters and the experiences of life, but I love a good thriller with high stakes and deadlines. In “Scorched,” I started exploring my main character during times of stress. By the middle of the book, he and his friends had gotten themselves in enough trouble to pick the pace up quite a bit. 

4. Family dynamics seem to play an important role in “Scorched.” In the book, how do family dynamics influence how the characters see themselves and the decisions they make?

“Scorched” begins with a teenager who has a complicated relationship with a parent. By late adolescence, he manifests a mental illness which, though not entirely understood, is thought to be genetic. How he deals with these issues in middle age, how it affects his friends, family and co-workers is one thing that drives the plot. 

5. Can anyone truly outrun their past?

Like all of us, the characters in “Scorched” experience the past in a few different ways. Their temperaments and circumstances of their early lives drive their behavior. Things they say and do that have consequences going forward. And the way they reflect and make meaning out of their personal histories. I think this last aspect of the past can be reshaped. 

6. What reaction do you hope to get from readers?

I like when I relate with a character and what happens in a book and lose myself in the experience of reading. “Scorched” is a window into the past. Specifically, what it was like being a certain type of kid in the U.S. in the 1970s. 

7. What’s next for you?

Over the years I’ve written characters that are adjacent to me, but not me, in that they don’t think, say, or do things I would do. I might try a novel set nearer to where I live in western NC, with a character that’s more like I am but in a made-up situation. 

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Climate industry veteran’s debut novel is “Captain Planet” for the next generation

Inspire kids to protect the planet with “climate-fighters” superhero series  

Ontario, Canada – After working in the climate-tech industry for the past fifteen years, debut author Aaron Arsenault is excited to inspire readers ages 9-12 to combat climate change. His climate fiction novel, “The Climate Diaries, Book One: The Academy” (FriesenPress, April 22, 2024) takes readers on an eco-adventure with troublemaker Jax Wilkinson, who is recruited by a top secret organization dedicated to preparing the next generation of climate-fighters. 

As global temperatures skyrocket, a two-degree rise becomes unavoidable. Is the next generation up to the challenge? The Climate Action Taskforce (CAT) is dedicated to solving the climate crisis, and about more than just predicting the next superstorm- they are safeguarding the future of humanity. When the CAT Founder mysteriously disappears, it is a race against time to recruit ‘future Elon’s’ – now!

For 11-year-old genius Jax, fighting back against bullies has cost him big time. Having pulled his last prank, he’s given an impossible choice when the authorities get involved. With no screens, no contact with the outside world–and no second chances, can Jax make the cut? Joining forces with teammates Grace, August, and Kylie, Team 19 must learn to work together to hack it at the Academy–and to survive a climate disaster beyond their wildest fears.

“The Climate Diaries: Book One: The Academy”

 Aaron Arsenault | April 22, 2024 | Borrowed Planet Press | Middle Grade

Aaron Arsenault is a citizen of Mother Earth, a climate-tech industry veteran, and a concerned dad. His passion for the environment coupled with a lack of inspirational material for young readers on the topic influenced him to become a writer of middle grade climate fiction. When he’s not writing, Aaron enjoys the outdoors, playing guitar, painting, and planning his next adventure. Aaron studied children’s writing and illustration as a postgraduate at the University of Toronto. He lives with his family and a goofy goldendoodle in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Find out more about him at his website: www.aaronarsenault.com.

Follow Aaron Arsenault on social media:

Instagram: @aaron_arsenault_


 

In an interview, Aaron Arsenault can discuss:

  • His 15 years in climate technologies, including working for some of the leading organizations in the industry
  • The reality of climate change and how it affects us daily, and the importance of climate fiction as a genre
  • His passion for preparing future generations for the climate crisis, including his own children
  • Why he wrote for middle grade, and how he made the topic inspiring and entertaining 
  • Specific steps young people can take right now to influence the climate crisis

An Interview with

Aaron Arsenault

1. How has your previous career in climate-tech inspired your writing?

After spending 15 years in climate-tech working with several leading organizations I learned the movement toward sustainable technologies isn’t just to influence emissions, carbon footprints and bottom lines- it’s to influence values, beliefs and ultimately, human behavior. 

We’re now at a time when we can choose- choose to continue doing things the way they’ve always been, or, choose to embrace a little discomfort, and do them a bit differently, knowing that the end that new habits will form and that results will make it all worthwhile. 

That’s essentially what we’re selling with the sustainability movement- but experience has taught me- for many adults without muscle memory, it can be a tough sell… For kids however, not so much!  

In our information-centric world, I think kids today are looking for meaning and answers more than ever before. So it’s vital that those of us who are in a position to do so do all we can to inspire kids. The next generation must be convinced that life will only continue to get better, not worse. If we fail at that, I think we fail as parents.

Even ten years ago, ‘eco-anxiety’ or ‘climate-doom’ were not household terms like they are today. Our kids are more distracted and disconnected from nature than ever before. They’re desperately seeking positive messages to anchor them and provide a sense of purpose as they embark on their journeys. My hope is that this series, in whatever way possible, will help instill the courage they need to take those first steps.

2. How do you hope this inspires the future generation to act, including your own children?

Current and future generations will be presented with choices that my generation never was. Learning to be ‘good citizens’ when I was a kid meant not being a litterbug. Today, it’s about so much more than that- far more than recycling or buying an electric family car. 

I really think the best thing we can do is teach our kids about the big picture. Too much happens ‘somewhere else’.  In the west, many municipalities ship waste products to the far side of the world. We buy things that were not made in sustainable ways, because they’re inexpensive and convenient. Other countries bear the brunt of those choices and are locked in a cycle of poverty in service of the west.  When that happens our blinders stay on.  

The beauty of the internet and social media is that they are insanely powerful tools for creating awareness… and kids are aware! They see the man behind the curtain- and they want answers.  

The aim of the Climate Diaries series is to dig into big picture thinking so kids gain an appreciation of the impacts of human behavior outside of their town, city or national borders. Our Climate Diaries crew will be quite well traveled by the end of this series- I can assure readers of that! 

I think once Kids fully understand the broader perspective and how it shapes society, government and business that they will ask more meaningful questions and eventually apply that knowledge to make more thoughtful and inclusive decisions as the future leaders of our world. 

Every choice counts, in one way or another. We’ll either pivot forward, or stay stuck. One day our kids will inherit the Earth, until its time to turn it over to their kids. 

3. How did you work to make this middle grade book not only educational, but also entertaining and inspiring to kids?

As a kid with ADHD who struggled as a young reader, I gravitated to books with pictures. My all time favorites were (and still are!) Roald Dahl books. Not just because the stories were so entertaining, but especially because of Quentin Blake’s incredible illustrations! The hilarity of Roald Dahl’s writing and the absurd situations he constructed kept me reading and laughing until I got to the next illustration. Before I knew it I was reading whole books. It set me on a journey as a young reader that I never forgot. I swore that if I ever wrote a novel for kids that it would be super approachable- especially to those  young readers who might be struggling to keep up. 

That said, I also set out to educate kids- not just to give them some perspective on the climate crisis, but as you’ll see in the book to provide many teachable ‘vignettes’ that teachers can expand on, should they choose, related to climate science, agriculture, technology, sustainable energy, and just about any other relevant bits I could cram in! The teacher’s guide on my website should help tease those out even more. 

While the book and the series will definitely have its fair share of humor and even an absurd scene now and then, I strongly believe that it’s time to start putting more meaningful content in front of our kids. We have an entire generation now growing up on fantasy and fart books. I set out to weave in a bit more substance. Hopefully it works for young readers.

4. What are some specific steps that young people can take right now to influence the climate crisis?

As I say in the Author’s Note at the back of the book, I think we need kids to start asking a lot more questions of their world. It starts with the way we buy stuff. Understanding the basics of a carbon footprint. Considering what we buy at the grocery store and how it got there. Digging deeper and using the internet as a tool – to look up people, companies and governments and hold them to account on their promises. I also think kids have forgotten how to dream because their imaginations are being overridden by social media reels, gaming and chat platforms. Unplugging and spending time brainstorming to engage their imaginations is probably the most important thing a kid can do these days. We are losing touch with some basic human competencies that are troubling. Dreaming big dreams is what makes a kid a kid! 

Of course, there are plenty of things kids can do to get their hands dirty. They can start their own ‘Climate Action Task Forces’ – in their homes, their schools and their communities. Community clean ups, upcycling drives, walk-a-thons to and from school, are just a few ideas on ways kids can get involved for little to no cost. 

5. What are your future plans for this climate fiction series? Can we expect more from Jax and friends?

Absolutely! Since I am currently an indie author my hope is that we sell enough books to at least cover the publishing costs. Like most authors, it’s my dream to leave the 9-5 world and do this full-time. To the extent I can do that, I’ll write more books, faster.  Ideally, I hope to publish a new volume at least every 12-18 months- maybe a bit quicker if a few stars align! 

Since there is an arc emerging that will require some degree of specificity on the number of books, I’ll have to figure that part out sooner than later- but as of right now, I’m not sure yet exactly how many volumes there will be in total, but definitely quite a few more!  

One thing is for certain- there will DEFINITELY be Book Two; I’ve already written the first draft- I can’t wait to deliver the conclusion to Book One! 🙂

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Woman abandons reality in Persuasion-inspired romance

Dream-induced sci-fi twist spins the classic story of second chances

SAN FRANCISCO, CA– Dream a little dream of better days gone by in this speculative contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion. The States (self-published, Apr 30, 2024) by Norah Woodsey introduces young Tildy Sullivan, who enters a sleep-study allowing her to lucidly dream of summers in Ireland and the boy she was forced to leave behind.

From the acclaimed author of The Control Problem and Lifeless, Norah Woodsey offers a fresh twist on the beloved classic. Four years in the making, this novel was first drafted during NaNoWriMo 2020. Focusing on her love for Jane Austen and inspired by Galway, Ireland. Woodsey reinterprets Anne as a young contemporary woman faced with the harsh realities of her family’s situation and the desire to escape into a dream world.

Tildy Sullivan is the middle child in an elite yet fading Manhattan family. Her quiet practicality hides her deep, profound longing for childhood summers in western Ireland. She also carries a secret regret. After her mother’s death, she’s persuaded to abandon Ireland and the love of the local boy, Aiden.

When Tildy volunteers for a lucid dreaming experiment, it gives her all she wants – a life lived for her family during the day and a secret, perfect Ireland of her own at night. Will she face reality, or succumb to the ease of her dreams? 

THE STATES is a modern reimagining of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a story of love, obligation, and second chances. 

“The States”

Norah Woodsey | April 30, 2024 | Speculative Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Ebook | 9798988445708 | $9.99

Paperback | 9798988445708 | $15

NORAH WOODSEY is the author of The States, The Control Problem, Lifeless, and the novella When the Wave Collapses. After short careers in finance and tech, she has dedicated herself to creating fiction. Her subjects of intense interest but not quite expertise include history, physics, genetics, sociology and gender studies. The product of four generations of Brooklynites,“she now lives in California with her husband, children and their dog Saoirse. Find out more about her at norahwoodsey.com.

Follow Norah Woodsey on social media:

Instagram: @nwoodsey | BlueSky: @norahwoodsey.bsky.social

 

 

In an interview, Norah Woodsey can discuss:

  • Her process for reimagining the classic story Persuasion and making it her own
  • How Jane Austen inspired her writing and how she modernizes her story for a fresh audience
  • Her journey writing this novel–from its original NaNoWriMo draft in 2020 to a published version in 2024
  • The similarities she has with Tildy’s struggle to connect with her Irish heritage as an American and its themes throughout the story
  • How finding happiness through nostalgia keeps Tildy moving forward despite reality
  • Why she chose to self-publish all of her books
  • How she transitioned from writing hard science fiction to a softer romance story

Advanced Praise for The States

“…the novel casts a definite spell over the reader, who can’t help but be drawn into Tildy’s fantasies. It’s a triple escape, after all: into a dream, over the sea, to the arms of a lost love.”

-Kirkus Reviews

“A contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this lovely novel from Woodsey (author of When the Wave Collapses) is rich in romance, fantasy, and a tender yearning to make the best of a do-over.”

-PW’s BookLife Reviews

”The novel is clever in its explorations of escapism and wish fulfillment. Despite the allure of dreaming, Tildy’s knowledge that real longings demand real actions also results in pain.” 

-Foreword Clarion Reviews

“Any Janeite will recognize Norah Woodsey’s THE STATES by the first chapter as a modern retelling of Miss Austen’s Persuasion…while the foundation of the story is indeed based on that great novel, this author has really thought about the necessary changes a modern context implies for her heroine’s life.”

-IndieReader Review

An Interview with

Norah Woodsey

1. Did The States originate as a reimagining of Persuasion or did that happen later in your writing process? 

Initially, the story began as a NaNoWriMo in the depths of lockdown. Years later, I took a look at what I had written and realized there was hardly any conflict, and what little there was looked a lot like Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen novel. I think we all felt the longing Anne Elliot feels in that story during 2020 – a world was lost to us and connections were left incomplete. 

2. Why Persuasion? What drew you to that story and its characters?

For me, Jane Austen’s last completed novel is her most accessible. We all have paths untaken, that we look back on with complicated emotions. While Elizabeth Bennett is a heroine in the truest sense, Emma is wealthy and beautiful and admired, the Dashwoods are delightful women in complicated circumstances, etc, Anne Elliot must evolve to achieve her happiness. She has to escape a prison of her obligations, ones that no one evidently feels towards her. I also wanted to explore her mother, the absent heart of Persuasion who is often the unspoken center of Anne’s choices, though she herself is never really described in any detail. 

3. You have discussed that some of the dialogue you wrote was inspired by conversations between your grandmother and her cousin, Caitlín Maude. Can you tell us more about this?

Growing up, my grandmother told me about her visits to family in Ros Moc, a village in Connemara where my grandmother’s family came from. She specifically told me about one cousin, a fierce intellectual whose anger gave her comfort in the aftermath of my uncle’s death, a young man drafted in the Vietnam War. I knew of Caitlín’s accomplishments and how she reportedly resented speaking in English to my ignorant family members, but like a lot of grandchildren I didn’t really look her up until after my grandmother had passed away. Caitlín Maude was a poet, sean-nós singer, anti-war activist who died far too young. Her poetry and interviews are really stunning. My grandmother mourned her, the loss of what she had to teach those around her, as different as they were. 

4. The States began as a draft during NaNoWriMo. What was your journey of taking your book all the way to publication like?

The first thing I did was buy another copy of Persuasion, not a sacrifice in the least! I read the novel as a writer, noting how each character’s motivations were revealed, what moments would pose a challenge in a modernization. I also listened to the audiobook several times, which helped give me a feel for the flow of the overall story structure. Then, I rewrote the original NaNoWriMo. Many scenes that I adored were cut, others changed beyond recognition, the order shuffled. The original had very little conflict, few obstacles, and hardly any tension, unlike Persuasion. That said, I feel as though the heart of the original and The States are the same. Longing and regret can tempt you into accepting misery, but overcoming that impulse is a great hero’s journey. 

5. How has your experience of feeling like an “outsider” to the Irish language influenced your writing?

One of my earliest memories is going to a family reunion in Brooklyn and hearing older relatives sitting around a beat up circular table, leaning back in metal folding chairs and speaking to one another in Irish. I don’t know what they were saying. There was a wall between the generations built of this language that no one had bothered to teach us. It’s weird to have Irish citizenship without knowing the language, particularly when family not far removed from me have dedicated their lives to saving the language from oblivion. So I knew if I ever wrote a book set in Ireland, there would have to be Irish in it. I hired an amazing translator, Andrea Brown, to get the passages correct. I made sure to include some words I remember the most vividly, such as ‘sutach’ – a hearty baby boy, something I heard a lot when my brothers were around, and amadán, a fool or idiot. That one I heard a lot, too!

I tried to use the language in the story as close to my own experience with it, but also in a way that is likely more familiar to first generation Americans whose parents came from a non-English speaking country. Tildy rarely uses the language when she speaks, but she understands it, most of the time. I felt like that could best represent her own relationship with the country and the past she wishes to return to – a sense of partial belonging that is frustratingly incomplete. 

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Shaman’s poetry collection explores disability and the Ifá religion from a woman’s point of view

San Francisco, CAWhen I have wandered long enough what am I still beholden to? 

Ifá. Nature. Illness. Love. Loss. Misogyny. Aging. Africa. Our wounded planet. In this sweeping yet intensely personal collection, Lauren Martin tells the untold stories of the marginalized, the abused, the ill, the disabled—the different. Inspired by her life’s experiences, including the isolation she has suffered as a result both of living with chronic illness and having devoted herself to a religion outside of the mainstream, these poems explore with raw vulnerability and unflinching honesty what it is to live apart—even as one yearns for connection.

But Night of the Hawk is no lament; it is powerful, reverential, sometimes humorous, often defiant—“Oh heat me and fill me / I rise above lines”—and full of wisdom. Visceral and stirring, the poems in this collection touch on vastly disparate subjects but are ultimately unified in a singular quest: to inspire those who read them toward kindness, compassion, and questioning.

“Intimate and political…contemplative and strong” –Kirkus Reviews

“Night of the Hawk”

Lauren Martin | May 14, 2024 | She Writes Press | Poetry

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-64742-658-3 | $17.95

“The poems gathered here address themes of survival, chronic illness, shamanism, and feminism against the backdrop of daily life. . . . The diversity of experience examined makes for a collection that is both full and human. A whole life in one volume.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Night of the Hawk is a luminous and numinous collection about women and men, about betrayal and forbearance, about endurance, death, and art, and, most essentially, about the search for a sacred path through life. There is so much love in these poems”

–Michael Laurence, award-winning playwright

“Lauren’s poems drop into your psyche and ripple outward, echoing in the moments of life. Their beauty haunts.” 

–Sallie Ann Glassman, Head Manbo Asogwe of La Source Ancienne Ounfo

LAUREN MARTIN is a psychotherapist, poet, and a devoted Ìyânífá of Tunisian heritage and of Sephardic/Mizrahi descent. She lives in Oakland, California. Lauren studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She spent years writing without submitting her work due to a long shamanic journey, which led her to both Ifá, and to the writing of this collection of poems. Learn more at: www.laurenmartin.net 

 

 

 

 

In an interview, Lauren Martin can discuss:

  • Her perspective as a woman aging in contemporary culture
  • The importance of nature in Ifá and in her poems
  • Writing about disability and chronic illness
  • How her poems, which often reflect on the inhospitable world around us, ultimately call readers to compassion and questioning

An Interview with

Lauren Martin

1. What was your shamanic journey like?

That’s a tough question and one that is incredibly difficult to distill into a few sentences. Like most truly shamanic journeys, it was arduous and unpredictable. My journey meant that I was constantly negotiating my relationship to the dead.

2. What would you like others to know about Yoruba culture and the Ifá religion?

Ifá is considered the root of all religions and there are seeds of Ifá in many organized religions. Ifá has the pitfalls of other religions but the spirits of nature exist outside of human control and are available to all of us. 

3. How does Ifá influence your poetry?

Ifá is the prism through which I understand the world. The Òrìsà are my deepest relationships with whom I feel profound resonance. Those concepts of reverence towards the natural world as representations of God, manifest organically in my work.

4. What is your writing process like?

I am a medium and more often than not, I dream my poems. I wake and they are with me. I don’t do many rewrites and perceive them as gifts.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this collection?

An openness to difference and kindness in the face of the disabled, the strange and the unfamiliar. Reverence towards nature and eldership.

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