My very first guest this year on Center Stage, is very special and you will know why in a moment but first let me share some excerpts of my thoughts on the book of the very lovely Bree Donovan
BLACKTHORNS OF THE FORGOTTEN
By Bree T Donovan
There is a saying in my corner of the universe which loosely translated simply states that you do not fight what you cannot help. It also sends a prayer that may we never be confronted by what we do not understand. I had to struggle hard to keep my eyes open for Bree was merciless in her determination that I take the full potion of her heady brew. In fact I assumed Bree was male. I could not keep Gillean and Sully away from my vision and those times when I had to eat, became an agony. BLACKTHORNS OF THE FORGOTTEN is a very powerful read indeed.
Bree has explored in brilliant detail the many forces that shape us and how we may make choices that determine several lifetimes. It is about the threads of fate we sometimes unwittingly weave ourselves into and our ignorance of the true natures of the ethereal forces that surround us. She has given an indication that Man lives in a world he faintly grasps and he ignores these forces at his own peril.
The agony of a journey into a man’s soul and heart. The infinite struggle of the shadows in our lives, emotions we are scared about and definitions of love. These are the choices we make. I could not afford to overlook a word or phrase as Bree was unrelenting. Like a swift flowing river, she swept me along. I was a willing victim howling my delight, chilled and thrilled every step of the tumultuous ride. I am African and we live in a seamless world with the elements, the elves and fairies, the gods and demons and this story is thus very plausible and gripping for me. The portrayal of two sides of world so thinly cloaked from each other resonated with me as well.
Bree has made a very brilliant study of the complexities of the human soul, and invited the reader to be hesitant about passing judgment. I would like to congratulate Bree and ..yes forgive her for keeping me on the edge of my seat, away from sleep and my dinner.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself
I think I’m about the wackiest person I know! Sometimes it can be a good thing. To my benefit or detriment, I still see the world through a child’s eyes which is mostly a blessing. I’m able to recognize the small joys often overlooked in everyday life.
I absolutely love animals, (that’s why I don’t eat them!) music, running, teaching, and my favorite activity is camping under the stars-preferably when it’s summertime and the crickets are chirping away.
2. BLACKTHORNS OF THE FORGOTTEN chilled and thrilled me, you really can’t call it a horror or sci-fi so what can I call it?
You are very perceptive, Biola. I had a heck of a time searching for a publisher, because I didn’t even know what genre the story would fall under. A friend used a term that I never heard before, but I think suits-Magic-Realism. Blackthorns is set in the modern day world, (earth) with characters that anyone of us could meet, and yet, their lives are dusted with the magic of another world.
I’m very grateful to Gerry Huntman of IFWG publishing for actually liking the idea that Blackthorns doesn’t fit neatly into any one box.
3. The Irish have at various times have been said to be fey. What exactly does that mean?
I think from an outsider’s perspective-especially Americans, the Irish seem to be otherworldly and endowed with a certain ability to see and believe in things that others can not, such as fey. Sometimes it can be carried to the comical with dancing leprechauns and the like.
My experience of the Irish people is that there are incredibly down-to-earth. They literally have such strong ties to the earth as generations maintain the farming life. Many are very religious, and by that I mean they adhere strictly to one of the Christian religions. Some are more spiritual meaning they identify with their roots of earlier pagan times of goddesses, fey, and elements from the earth-based believes.
But I think overall they are a wonderful mixture of the two worlds. Because of this ability to believe in not only the Virgin Mary but the Goddess Brigid, they are open to believe in powers that can not be so easily defined.
4. Sully is both victim, protagonist and the mirror of Gillean, does evil interpret goodness?
Wow! What a great question! Sully understands that an elemental component of love is holding the mirror up to another. When we say, “I love you” to someone, we are also saying, “I see myself in you; who I am, who I want to be.”
Sully is not meant to be the representation of goodness, nor Gillean meant to represent evil. Through pain, time and learning, Sully is more evolved spiritually than Gillean. But both struggle with what it is to be human, and the one thing no human can avoid, “The D word”; Desire.
Your question reminds me of a quote that relates to the Jewish Holocaust; “For evil to succeed, good men must do nothing.”
5. At the end of the story and running as a subtle thread is the story of Keelin who I sometimes suspected had a link also with Ciar. If they are soulmates since Adara never felt any attraction for Ciar, what happened to Keelin?
I never like to define who the characters ultimately are because of astute observations such as yours. I never thought of Keelin having a link to Ciar. But, she may indeed have!
Keelin’s main link is to Sully since he risked his status so to speak as a re-encounter to rescue the human child, Keelin from an awful existence. It is through Sully’s example that Keelin learns the nature of love, both of the romantic-when she observes Sully and Gillean, and of friendship through the shared feelings between Sully and her.
Keelin offers herself up for Sully. I’d like to think that she too received a reward for her efforts in the end. Wink!
6. Somehow I feel one might give another title to the book like Gillean’s metamorphosis? Would I be right?
Indeed. Or simply, “Metamorphosis” since all the characters go through some major changes.
7. How long have you been writing?
I wrote songs and poems from the time I was a child-around seven-years-old. My mother would read to me at the kitchen table at night, (Little House on The Prairie books) that planted the seed in me. I wanted to tell stories that people could share as well.
8. Your book will be right home with us in Africa but for the sensitive handling of Sully’s agonized love affair, what plans do you have to extend your readership to Africa?
That is a wonderful complement to be considered for an African readership. The African history of storytelling is so rich. When I taught music, one of my most favorite lessons was teaching my students how most of our modern-day music is a direct descendent of African storytelling.
You know the expression; “Write what you know”? I feel pulled by my mind and heart to write about Ireland to the best of my ability. I would love to pick up readers from abroad. I’d gladly take some pointers from you as to how to do this since you are one gifted, African storyteller.
9. Do the Irish still have the concepts you so brilliantly portrayed in the novel. The keening, spirits, elves, and beings who are wedged in the ether of our conscious living experiences?
I think of my grandmother who was a devout Catholic. But, she was also attuned to the spirit world. She saw no conflict in praying the Rosary every night, and also believing in elves that lived in wood, danced around the kitchen when the household was asleep. She prayed to the Virgin Mary-her namesake, but I saw a lot of the goddess Brigid in her too. I’ve written a short-story about this very topic, called, Mercy.
10. You portrayed through Sully’s earth journeys, concept of incarnation, possession, evil hauntings and a prosaic working Arch Angel. What do you believe?
Gosh! That’s a big question! When it comes to religion and/or spirituality, I can’t say that I absolutely adhere to any one, or set of beliefs. What I have experienced over the years is that there are most certainly people who carry with them the wisdom, spirit and light from another place and time. I believe these people are angels, for lack of a better word, on earth. They speed across the universe leaving stardust behind in their wake. The world is better for having them in it for however long.
As to the creed I live my life by, I try my best to live simply and by the Golden Rule; Do unto others as they would have them do unto you. This goes for all sentient beings, not just humans.
Do I believe in incarnation, evil hauntings and the like? Let’s just say there is one person in particular who has left this earth, but promised me we that we will see one another again. I believe him!
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
11. Can your book also be described as a romantic spiritual adventure story?
Oh yes. It’s romance as I define it. I see romance and love filled with the supernatural and the coming together of souls…what could be more spiritual?
12. Share an average writing day
I wish I could say that I’m the kind of person who makes time to write every day-no matter what, even if it’s just 15 minutes. The truth is I only write when I have an idea that keeps picking at me; it excites me, it challenges me, and then I kick into full writing gear. I can write for 4-5 hours a sitting when I’m really jazzed.
I do like to read a lot. I think that reading other people’s work is a tremendous tool for a writer. So is walking my dog!
13. Have there been influences on your writing style and concepts, please share some.
My greatest influence on my actual writing style would be my late fiancé who was from Ireland. He was not a writer, but a natural storyteller. He could light up a room with his lively conversation. I was always amazed at how he dealt in a very real way with the ugly violence that gripped his country, and yet, he still saw the world through a dreamer’s eyes. He treasured looking through his telescope at the constellations. He felt such a connection with them. Standing next to him under the night sky, I felt as if I was in another world too. It is that world which I felt more than saw that I try capture in my stories.
If I had to pick a writer whose style has most influenced me, it would be Alice Hoffman.
14. If you had to ‘re-encounter’ what or who will you choose to help Humanity with?
Another great question! I’m sure there are other people and situations that I could list, but this was truly the first one that popped into my head, so I think I should go with it. Jim Croce was an American musician whose height of popularity was in the early 1970s. In fact, I remember being five-years old, and wanting to marry him! Jim tragically died in a plan crash in 1973.
Jim was from a poor, working class family. He learned to play blues guitar from an African-American neighbor. Jim’s music was about the essence of life; our daily struggles to get by, to find the humor in life, even when times are tough, to find and honor love, and to touch as many people as we can with our gifts.
"I'm no missionary," says Jim Croce about his songs, "and I can't wear any armor, either. I just gotta be the way I am."
Living his life according to that creed, Jim and his music touched millions of people. He still does today, decades after his death. In a selfish way, I’d like to re-encounter Jim Croce, spend time with him. Learn his unique way of looking at the world, his humility, humanity and of course his love and talent for music. I’m sure that would make me a better person, and in turn I could offer more to humanity.
15. When you are not writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Playing with my dog, listening to music, singing, spending time with friends. I am very silly. I take great pleasure in giggling and making others laugh along with me. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I also love sampling all that is chocolate, rich and creamy!
16. Please share links to your books
Steve Prefontaine Rocketman
Both can be found at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/breetdonovan, amazon.com, barnsandnoble.com
Various short stories can be found at: http://www.ireland-information.com
Short Story: Before the Fountain fromStereo Opticon: Fairy Tales in Split Vision, Drollerie Press can be found at: www.goodreads.com, amazon.com
The Girl From Belfast City-Short Story can be found at: SQ Magazine Fall/Winter 2010-2011 www.ifwgpublishing.com
Thank you very much for coming on Center Stage.
Thank you for inviting me! J