Local author shares her stories
"Forest Song: Finding Home," was VilaSpiderhawk's first novel.
Author Vila SpiderHawk will share her history-as-spiritual fantasy novels and samples from her cookbook at a reading and book signing hosted by the Friends of the Dimmick Library, on Saturday, May 8 at 1 p.m. at the Dimmick Memorial Library Annex, 58 Broadway in Jim Thorpe.
SpiderHawk, a retired teacher from Philadelphia, will read from her three books: "Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones," "Forest Song: Finding Home," and "Forest Song: Little Mother," and offer free samples of a soup recipe found in her "Forest Song Cookbook" along with other refreshments.
SpiderHawk describes her writings as "women's spirituality," although others have referred to it as fantasy, as her characters are prone to enter a world similar to Alice's Wonderland or the forests of the Brother's Grimm.
In her first book, a collection of eight stories, "Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones," she has composed tales of women helping girls come of age.
"These older women help the younger ones get through the serious traumas of their life," said SpiderHawk. "For the experience, they come out the other side wiser and stronger."
The book evolved from a series of short stories that SpiderHawk developed in a workshop.
"I had been writing all my life and people said I should publish," SpiderHawk said. "In this course, I was assigned to write a little story. It turned out to be 30 pages long." Her instructor urged her to publish the stories.
Five of the stories stand on their own while the other three share a common theme. They tell of three generations of women: Cara, the daughter; Donnata, the mother; and Heraulta, the grandmother; and how each has a personal experience on a visit to the market.
In her first novel, "Forest Song: Finding Home," SpiderHawk uses the impending Holocaust as a background to a girl's self discovery. Set between 1929 and 1933 near a forest separating Germany and Poland, 7-year-old Judy Baumann, runs away to the forest to begin a life with a new family as Judy's new family watches the growth of fascism.
The saga continues in "Forest Song: Little Mother." The novel, set between 1933 and 1938, sees Judy's family helping Jews escape from the impending German death camps, one of whom she falls in love with.
SpiderHawk has also written the "Forest Song Cookbook," consisting of Eastern European recipes of the type that her characters would have eaten.
Vila SpiderHawk is the author's pen name.
"'Vila' is a Middle European goddess who raises herbs and protects animals. When hunters come into the forest, she dances them to death," she explained. "Spider reminds us to find the divinity in the tiniest creature. The spider is a meditative creature that waits for nourishment. Hawk is a predator that uses its great vision, speed and agility to find what it needs to survive," she explains.
"I pour my soul into each passage," she noted. "I can sit for an hour and come away with one sentence, and you know what it's one hell of a sentence. It's the closest I can come to perfection at that moment in my life."
For more information, call the Dimmick Library (570) 325-2131.