Author Double-Header: Anca Szilágyi and Julie Christine Johnson
Join us for a doubler header of elegant and memorable writing! Seattle author Anca L. Szilágyi will talk about her debut novel, The Daughters of the Air, and Port Townsend writer Julie Christine Johnson (In Another Life ) will return to Eagle Harbor for a look at her latest novel, The Crows of Beara. Both of their literary novels include elements of the fantastic, and the authors will share their stories of writing.
Szilágyi's book tells the story of Tatiana "Pluta" Spektor, who was a mostly happy, if awkward, young girl -- until her sociologist father was disappeared during Argentina's Dirty War. Sent a world away by her grieving mother to attend boarding school outside New York City, Pluta wrestles alone with the unresolved tragedy and at last runs away to the streets of Brooklyn in 1980, where she figuratively -- and literally -- spreads her wings. Told with haunting fabulist imagery by Szilagyi, this searing tale of love, loss, estrangement, and coming of age is an unflinching exploration of the personal devastation wrought by political repression.
"Dirty--the war in Argentina. Dirty--the father's disappearance. Dirty--the mother's emotional withdrawal from her daughter. Dirty--the creaky Coney Island Wonder Wheel, the gritty New York City streets, and the polluted Gowanus Canal. Pluta, the teenage heroine of Daughters of the Air, flees from one dark place to others darker still, from one unfulfilled promise of escape to another. Yet in art, in opera, in the lusciousness of Anca Szilagyi's language, she soars." --Maya Sonenberg, author of Voices from the Blue Hotel and Cartographies
Johnson's new novel takes place along the windswept coast of Ireland, where a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart. When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life. Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine. Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind. Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself.
"As Johnson's wounded, good-hearted characters sort inner truths along the mystical Irish coast, the personal decisions and missteps they make have consequences that reach around the world. A captivating tale of our yearning to belong and the importance of following this ancient call." -- Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling
Anca L. Szilágyi grew up in Brooklyn. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, Gastronomica, and Fairy Tale Review, among other publications. She is the recipient of the inaugural Artist Trust / Gar LaSalle Storyteller Award, a Made at Hugo House fellowship, and awards from the Vermont Studio Center, 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and the Jack Straw Cultural Center. The Stranger hailed Anca as one of the "fresh new faces in Seattle fiction."
Julie Christine Johnson has written short stories and essays that have appeared in journals including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review, Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim, Cobalt, and River Poets Journal; in the print anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss; and have been featured on the flash fiction podcast No Extra Words. Named a "standout debut" by Library Journal, "very highly recommended" by Historical Novels Review, and "delicate and haunting, romantic and mystical" by bestselling author Greer Macallister, Julie's debut novel In Another Life went into a second printing three days after its February 2016 release. A hiker, yogi, and swimmer, Julie makes her home in northwest Washington state.