Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Killing Beauty

My novel Killing Beauty is out. I hope you'll take a look at it. It has been many years in the making. I had the idea 15 years ago when a mentally ill woman from Clark County drove into Skamania County in Washington where I lived, drove her children into the forest, and shot them. It was such a stunning and senseless act, and I wanted to understand it. The story didn't end with the murders. Her husband, who apparently was not mentally ill but "just" religious, wouldn't bury the children at first because he believed God would revive them. Finally, after two months, he allowed the burial. I was haunted by this crime and another in my community.

Years before these murders, a young woman was raped and murdered in the forest. The young man who did the killing said something just came over him, and he had to rape and murder her. To me, that is absolutely terrifying. Could that really be the truth? I talked to people in my town who knew the kid. Apparently he was known to torture and kill animals. But no one had done anything to stop him? That was stunning to me.

When I was a teen growing up in Michigan, a classmate of mine was murdered. She was someone I admired immensely, and I learned of her death when I was babysitting and listening to the news one night. Bill Bonds mispronounced her name and described vividly how she had died. I almost lost my mind. I ran around the house trying not to scream. The world tilted. And I don't think it has ever untilted. I phoned my dad, and he came and sat with me until the parents of the children I was babysitting came home.

I believe murder and other acts of violence and betrayal can affect communities for decades, maybe forever. I think these events reverberate through time and space, perhaps. In any case, I wanted to write about how these acts of violence can affect the individual and the community. In Killing Beauty, the town is dying. Which came first: the violence or the end of a viable community?

I hesitated to write this book for a very long time. I didn't want to do anything to exploit someone else's tragedy. I didn't want to "cash in." Then one day I talked to a friend of mine about my reluctance. She said, "Kim, it happened in your community, so it happened to you, too. You get to decide how to deal with it." I knew she was right. Of course I had a right to figure out how to deal with it. Writing fiction is how I do that. So I wrote Maternal Instincts, the first part of this book first, as a standalone novel. Then I wrote Beauty Falls and realized it was all one novel.

I wrote Killing Beauty from the viewpoint of a retired cop, Katie Kelly. She was part of a group of teens who went out to the woods one night, and one of them was killed. Katie lived the rest of her life trying not to think of that night—and trying to keep everyone she knows or meets safe. And she has esssentially kept life at bay. And then one day, everything begins to unravel for her and her community, Beauty Falls.

Read more here...

Monday, November 4, 2019

Retreats at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary

"At the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, reality is part fairy tale, part magic, and all Sonoran Desert. Stories are everywhere here. Come find yours."

You can now stay at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary via airbnb. Go here to our listings.

Here's more:

As some of you know, about 15 years ago, Mario and I started going to writing retreats at a place in the Sonoran Desert during the winter. The second year we were there, I wrote Church of the Old Mermaids. We called the place we stayed at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary because it wasn't a public retreat so we were being discreet, and we called it that because the setting for the novel was modeled after the Sanctuary. We loved the place and were heartbroken when it was sold about 5 years ago. This winter, in December 2018, when we were staying at a friend's place, we heard that the Sanctuary was up for sale. I called our realtor, and she called around, but as far as she could tell, it was not up for sale.

About 10 days later on a Sunday, I said to Mario and my sister (who was visiting) that I had to go out to the Sanctuary. This was kind of silly because you can't see the house or anything from the road. It's just a dirt road in a cul de sac. But they were game, so we drove out to the cul de sac (which was nearly an hour from our friend's house). And there was a for sale at the end of the drive! I stopped the car, jumped out, and phoned my realtor. She called me back and said the place was not officially up for sale yet, and it wouldn't be until Tuesday. I begged her to ask the other agent to let us see it before it went up for sale. The realtor wouldn't do it unless we were pre-qualified (which I understood), so we arranged for that to happen.

The next day, we went out to the Sanctuary. Mario and I walked around the place hand in hand, half the time in tears because we were so glad to be back. We knew it was crazy. We had never owned a house before. We didn't have the money to buy it outright so the only chance we would have to purchase the place would be to through a mortgage, which we had never wanted to do. But we looked at each other as we walked the grounds, and we nodded. Without figuring out a budget or anything—which is unusual for us; we are very careful spenders, and we don't debt—without figuring out anything, we went back to the realtor's office and told her, "Make an offer." A few hours later, the owners said yes. On December 31, we became the owners of the Old Mermaids Sanctuary, at least unofficially.

Read more here...
All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.