This week’s other featured book, “Fried Goldfinch,” by Sarah Wyman, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the Monthly Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page.
THE BOOK: Speed of Dark
PUBLISHED IN: 2022
THE AUTHOR: Patricia Ricketts
THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press. As the first hybrid publisher recipient of the 2019 Independent Publisher of the Year, She Writes Press is unique in the world of publishing because they are neither traditional publishing, nor are they self-publishing. As an independent publisher, they bill themselves as a “third way” for authors, and they proudly occupy the gray zone, a much-needed alternative in a rapidly changing publishing landscape. Unlike self-publishing platforms that publish whatever comes through regardless of quality, SWP is a curated press that works with authors to ensure that their books will be well-received in the marketplace.
SUMMARY: Mary Em Phillips has decided to end it all after losing her beloved Mamie, who raised her; her husband, Jack, who has left her for another woman; and her only son, Petey, who has died as a result of a freak bacterial infection. But when Mosely Albright, a black man from Chicago’s South Side, comes to her back door one morning needing a drink of water and seeking directions back to the train, her plans are derailed . . . to the chagrin of Mishigami (so named by the Ojibwe, also known as Lake Michigan), who has been trying to lure Mary Em into his icy depths in the hopes that she will save him.
Mary Em wants nothing more than to end her anguish. Mosely is searching for the love he’s been missing most of his life. And Mishigami—who fears he is dying from rampant pollution and overfishing—seeks a champion.
A story of friendship, survival, connection and the unquestioning power of nature told through three distinct voices, Speed of Dark affirms a love of humanity that transcends all else, including race and background.
THE BACK STORY:
This novel’s start–an image of Mary Em Phillips seated at her kitchen table–worrisome thoughts swirling overhead–came to me in a flash. So I let Mary Em tell her tale as she travels to downtown Chicago on the train working her way through grief. Then Mosely Albright appeared at Mary Em’s back door. Then Nona Concetta showed up on the train and Gerard appeared on a city street corner. It kept happening. And finally, Mishigami, the beloved Lake Michigan, arrived–full of snarky French expressions and ecological concerns.
The correct answer to the question “how long did it take me to write Speed of Dark” is: “a lifetime.” In real time, though I’d say, off and on for about six years.
WHY THIS TITLE?: This simply came to me–a rhapsody on the theme of the expression speed of light. The novel is about the interrelatedness of light and dark as captured in the yin/yang symbol which exists in Mary Em’s, Mosely’s, and Mishigai’s lives. And, of course, in all of ours.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Speed of Dark‘s uniqueness lies in the character of Mishigami, the anthropomorphized Lake Michigan, champion of his own freshwater needs and richly-enamored suitor of an unsuspecting Mary Em Phillips. That’s a fascinating story! Loaded with flashbacks and a harrowing real-time narrative, Speed of Dark will appeal to readers who love a great storyline, to those who have a fascination with magical realism, and to those who are interested in the ecology of our planet earth.
REVIEW COMMENTS: “Speed of Dark is a great read, a compelling tale, which examines grief and how humanity, hope, and kindness sometimes prevail against all odds, with even the forces of nature lending a hand. Its wonderfully textured prose will keep you turning pages.”
—Steven A. Jones, producer/director of Mad Dog and Glory and The Harvest
“I absolutely loved it! Such diverse characters come alive, their lives linked in such intricate ways. Ricketts captures the ‘yin-yang’ relationship between joy and sorrow, love and loss, gratitude and guilt. Wonderful insights.”
—T.R. Kerth, author of Revenge of the Sardines and syndicated newspaper columnist The View from Planet Kerth in Naples, Florida, and Huntley, IL
“What a complex story of these characters’ connection to each other and to the natural world! The dialogue is realistic and rich, Mary Em’s inner struggles are vividly compelling.”
—Betsy White, Instagram’s @BiblioBetsy book reviewer and blogger
Patricia Ricketts penned various essays, short stories, poems, and novels during her 30-year career as a high school English teacher. However, her passion really took off when she received a scholarship to the University of Edinburgh for Creative Writing. Since then, she has had short stories published in New Directions literary magazine, Realize Magazine, The Slate, Meta Magazine, The Blue Hour, on the Storied Stuff website, and in NPR’s “This I Believe” segment. She is currently working on her next novel, The End of June. Ricketts currently resides in Chicago with her partner.
SAMPLE: See the Amazon page.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:
Learn more about Patricia Ricketts on her website, and connect with her on