Michigan is a state full of talented artists. Here we have musicians, painters, circus freaks and even authors. Recently I found a fellow published Michigan author and was happy to order myself a copy of her book. I was so impressed with what I read that I did an interview with her (I found her on FaceBook). Bethany Greenier, author of Sings With Stars (which was published in March, 2010), has even had a signing done at a book store. She is on the path to greatness, even if it remains local. Her book was a sort of a memoir, though set in fiction, which helped her deal with some things from her childhood. You can get this info from her website at singswithstars.com.
What I got from Sings With Stars is that it is aa book about a 17 year old girl named Gigi who just doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. She is alone in the world, except for one old man that runs a funny little shop the Gigi absolutely adores (that is, the old man AND the shop). Her parents are gone, or so she thinks. In her spare time she sees imaginative worlds and draws what she sees… but is the world and the people she sees in her imagination really only IN her imagination? This book is captivating. The story flows wonderfully, the tale delightful. I found it hard to put this book down and finished it in less than a week (this coming from someone who takes a month to read a paperback, general length). The imagery Bethany puts into her story writing and into her words takes you right into the story she is trying to tell. I think someone should make a movie from this book. And both teens and adults are sure to love the story.
With a tease at the end Bethany tells us this isn’t the end of Gigi’s story. Another book is in the midst (more than one more, in fact), and I am hoping that I don’t have to wait too long for it. If you want to support talent in the mitten state Michigan, or if you are just looking for a great book to read, I highly recommend you pick up Sings With Stars. You can find out all about this book and its beautiful author at the website, including where you can pick up a copy of your own (which includes a couple places online)!
When asked what inspired her to become a writer and to write Sings With Stars Bethany says that “the first time that somebody told me I should write a book I was seven. That sentiment was repeated by a few other people as well over the years, and I suppose it stuck with me. I’ve written in a journal on and off for many years, so writing came pretty easily”. She got started on this story sometime after a Tarot reading. She says “that’s actually kind of a funny story. I was having a tarot card reading with a good friend of mine, and he said it was time to start writing. He didn’t specify what, just that it was time. A week or two later my husband and I were out for a walk, and he was describing the growing subculture called “steampunk”, and I was very intrigued. The notion of an alternative reality where everything was re-imagined was very appealing to me. Within about ten minutes of our conversation, I’d decided that I was going to write my story in a steampunk universe, but one that uses magic. I went home, wrote out a very brief overview of the main characters, and began writing when I got home from work that night. Nine weeks later, the first draft was finished. I mostly heard the story in my head. I would sit down to write, and there it was”. Bethany also added that “ironically, the tarot card aspect of the book didn’t make it’s way into the book until later”.
For those of you that are not sure what Steampunk is, Bethany defines it as “a genre of speculative fiction born of the works of authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells that is usually set in the Victorian era and steam is used rather than electricity. Often it’s an alternate history version of the “path not taken” (wikipedia). That much seems to be the accepted version of steampunk that most people agree on”. She adds that “[this is] a good definition, but it doesn’t cover the entire truth of my interest in the subject. When I began googling “Steampunk”, I was very inspired by the amount of DIY (do it yourself) fashion aesthetic and work ethic I was seeing in the photos people had posted. So, being a DIY kinda girl, it immediately appealed to me. It has also come to represent (for me) a rejection of the planned obsolescence of mass produced stuff. I was already re-making clothes I found in resale shops, so this just pushed me further in that direction, reinforcing my belief in the value of individuality or an assumed value of wearing a designer label, to fit in”.
Bethany explains how she came up with the magical world of Alcina in Sings With Stars. “I based the magic of my world on “real world” magic, the shamanism of the Toltec/Mayan peoples. As well as aspects of other spiritual and magical traditions, and metaphysical concepts. It was an interesting process of weaving them together to make a cohesive world”. Of the characters she says “because the book is semi-autobiographical, some of the characters are based on people in my life, or more accurately, combinations of people in my life. There is not one person who is exactly themselves in the book, more what they represented to me”. She also inserts that “the villain in the book is based on my mother, or specifically a personification of her mental illness. She had a dissociative personality disorder, so I used those traits to make the villain. The combination of those exaggerated traits and some very real comments and conversations from my childhood are what came together as the Fayanna character”.