The child of a librarian and a teacher, I’ve had a love of the written word for longer than I can remember. Never bound by one genre in my reading, I found it impossible to restrict myself to one genre when writing. If I feel like a story needs to be told, I tell it in the best way I can, whether it’s fantasy or historical or literary. The only thread that connects those stories is the women at the heart of them: strong yet vulnerable, outsiders searching for their own place in the world.
My current work-in-progress, a fantasy novel tentatively titled The Wild Daughter, tells the story of a young peasant woman named Rianna who awakens from a deathlike slumber claiming she is the reincarnation of enigmatic southern ruler Lady Sable Eistantsor–and Mian, the goddess she carried within her. When the Holy Council learns of her existence, it orders her brought before it. Initially captivated by the idea that they might be witnessing a miracle, the Council members quickly become alarmed by Rianna’s assertions about the gods–assertions that throw their entire understanding of the universe into question. After an exorcism fails to stop her from saying she’s Sable, the Council places her on trial to prove that she is not. She is ordered to give a full account of everything she “remembers” from what she claims is her previous life. Witnesses who knew Sable will then be brought in to testify. If their testimony does not match Rianna’s, proving that she is not Sable, the Council will ask her to recant both her claim and her statements about the gods. If she refuses, she risks being found guilty of heresy. The penalty? Death.
Council guard Torin mac Eamon knew Sable—intimately. Six months ago, he and a priestess named Aislin had been assigned to bring Sable’s son Daric to the sacred isle of Sorsha Tiev for the New Year’s ritual—the same ritual that cost Sable her life. Torin believes Rianna is Sable, and though it puts his job and his life in danger, he believes her proclamations, too. But he also knows when to keep his mouth shut. Believing he can be trusted, the Council assigns Torin to guard Rianna while she is on trial, ordering him to accompany her whenever she leaves her cell and to be present when anyone visits her. Having relied on him once before and wary of the Council, Rianna now asks him to record everything: everything he knows from his brief time with Sable before she died; everything he sees and hears at the trial; and everything that happens to Rianna now. Everything, she says, including the truth about what happened that day on Sorsha Tiev.
I come from a family of people who can’t seem to help writing. My 90-year-old grandmother wrote a fascinating autobiography covering the span of one of the most tumultuous centuries in history. My father, Michael Simonds, wrote two autobiographical essays included in collections of writings by Peace Corps volunteers who served in India in the 1960s, The Other Side of the World and Return to the Other Side of the World.
And now my sister, Susan Simonds is a published poet! In 2013 her poem “Old Dixie Down” was published by Blue Ridge Literary Prose and her poem “Rebel” was published by Vine Leaves Literary Journal and included in their Best of anthology for 2013. Congrats!