Big Hats, Satisfying Stories

Who is Gailie Ruth, and what does she love?

I’m a thirty-something Millennial that was force-fed technology just long enough to view old books as a treat. Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, you name it, I had it for dessert after long days cramming school work through word processors and clunky, quickly developing software systems in the ’00s.

As a grown-up now out of college for some years, I have several loves: my little family (hubby and two boys, ages nearly-six and two), cats (two of those!), big hats, big hair, dancing, singing, and writing. The last is something I have turned to, often, when life seemed to press in and I felt the need to press out with something–a story, a poem, a journal entry, a random post here and there. Work in the non-profit realms and motherhood made these endeavors fewer and far-between as time went on, and I missed it with a fierceness not unlike one grieves (and that is something I know by experience as well, but that is another story).

You might imagine my surprise when, just before the “Pandemic shutdowns” happened in the US in the early spring of 2020, I received an email about a piece of JAFF (Jane Austen Fanfiction) I had half-completed and posted on the Derbyshire Writers’ Guild Board some five years before. It was from Jan Ashton at Quills & Quartos Publishing, asking if I’d be interested in finishing, then publishing the work.

After some due diligence, I committed eagerly, and then spent nine months balancing what was to come, which was a challenge to me (and many other women): the COVID-19 closures, with two small children, feeling rather adrift from reality on an island made busy with bored children, where there was a lot of hand sanitizer and involved planning for even small forays to the grocery store.

Out of this bizarre realm, I produced the manuscript for Fearful Symmetry at last: a work that celebrates the triumph of love over unforeseen difficulties, set down upon the palimpsest of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It felt like a purge at times as I wrote, and as I shaped the story and “listened” to the characters interacting with the challenges set forth, I felt the stirrings of recovery as their courage rose to the occasion. After all, how can Elizabeth and Darcy, united against adversity, ever disappoint?

As I enter 2021, I’m happy to say that I’ve added this novel to my list of favorite things. I hope it becomes one of yours. Check it out on the “Novel Works page.”

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