Friday, June 19, 2009
Book Launch: Lifting The Sky
I'd like to introduce you to an intriguing new title with a wonderful sense of place from author Mackie d'Arge titled LIFTING THE SKY.
Congratulations on the publication of your novel, LIFTING THE SKY. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
While showing some kids how to feel their energy fields—and seeing how easily they picked it up—I thought, hmmm…I could do a story about this! And then quirky little Blue appeared out of the blue. It was as if I’d uncorked her and she just started chatting away. Blue sees what she calls ‘the lights’ around people and things. When her mom lands a job on an isolated, ramshackle ranch and she’s handed two bum calves to care for, Blue realizes she has a gift for healing. The story is about Blue’s exploration of this gift, her search for her long lost dad, and her relationship with a Native American boy who is also searching for something.
Setting is very important in your book. Would you care to elaborate?
Ever since I moved to the reservation 20 years ago I’ve been fascinated by certain places that are considered to be sacred. Some of these are near our ranch. The canyon with the petroglyphs where the Shoshones go for vision quests is one valley away. There is also a cave similar to the one in my story, although that one was partly inspired by a transforming dream I had years ago. And of course the Little People and Water Ghosts are real--just ask anyone who lives around here!
I was careful about how I wrote about these places. It was with huge relief and pleasure when the book was taken in by the Native American community. It is being used in the school at Fort Washakie as a teaching tool.
Can you describe your path to the publication of LIFTING THE SKY?
I was just lucky. A while back, a friend was going to the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and asked me to come along. I think I’d had too much wine because I said sure! But then I had to write something…. I’m an artist, and I’d only written once in a while in my sketch books. I came up with an autobiographical piece that got me picked up by the agent who read it. I continued on with that for a while but decided it was better as therapy than something I wanted to put out there. Fiction, I thought, would be a lot more fun! I didn’t want to disappoint my sweet agent, Charlotte Sheedy, so I figured I’d better get to work. Half-way through Blue’s story I sent the ms to her and it got picked up by the first editor she sent it to. The editor sent me five pages of notes. I followed her advice as best I could and got rid of one character but kept another, who’d appeared in the story as a ghost. That one I kept alive but sent off to Montana.
So I guess my advice for beginning writers would be to follow your passions, be a bit crazy, drink wine and write something full of feeling, and head for a good writers conference!
Can you tell us something about your personal life—inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I seem to take myself off to unusual places and end up living strangely different lives in each case. I was born in Panama and grew up all around the Mediterranean—Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Italy, and France. I’m an artist, and my studies were done in Florence and Paris. Afterward I lived in a village in southern France and on Crete and then in India. I didn’t come to live in the states until I was over 30. So although I write in this book about ranching, I was not born to it. I married a professor, came to Wyoming, and found an isolated ranch on the snowy side of a windblown mountain. Within a short time I was divorced with two young sons to bring up and a rundown ranch to try to make a living on. So believe me, I learned ranching the hard way.
In my book, Blue draws a picture of what she thinks of as her special place, and then she finds it. That actually happened to me, because I drew a picture of the ranch before I even came to Wyoming. The place had been deserted for 20 years, and the house in Blue’s story is the house on that ranch. I’ve used visualizing ever since I was a child, and the amazing places I find myself in come about because of it. I also work with healing touch and am fascinated by how sound, love, and intention can be used for healing.
I recently married my longtime partner, a Wyoming rancher. We’re both in love with this landscape and the people here on the rez.
Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I’m starting on another story and throwing it across the river to the Badlands.
Do you have a website where readers can learn more about LIFTING THE SKY?
Yes! Please go to www.mackiedarge.com