Lonely in the Heart of the World by Mindi Meltz, Logosophia Books, September 30, 2013. $29. 832 pages. ISBN: #9780981575742. $25 shipping included, if you order for a signed copy before September 30th. Logosophiabooks.com
Publisher's Weekly /gives it this Starred review:
The search for love resonates throughout this fiercely imaginative epic. A princess/goddess flees her glass tower to find the prince who was supposed to rescue her. Named Lonely by the wind, she embarks on a voyage of discovery that includes a unicorn, a wily huntress, gods and goddesses, and a prolonged reflection on why we live. In contrast, independent Delilah has no need for love; she opts for a desert existence but finds her solitude threatened by Dragon, a youth impelled to go on his own quest. The City, built by Lonely’s father at the heart of the world, exalts technology but stifles the spirit of another, unnamed character. In her leisurely but potent narrative, Meltz (Author of /Beauty/) sustains a rhapsodic tone that embraces both the sacred and the decidedly profane, and presents humanity as both threatening and compassionate. The disparate elements harmonize in unexpected and startling ways. Sometimes gushing, frequently heart-tugging, and always gripping, despite its length, this tale will reward the reader with a pantheistic glimpse of destruction, rebirth, and the tantalizing nature of desire and union.
From Don Dulchinos, author of/ Forbidden Sacraments/ and /Neurosphere/:
LONELY IN THE HEART OF THE WORLD is an ancient mystery tour into our connected future. Mindi Meltz explores the deep nature of the City that is built upon the heart of the world. She decries the establishment of that City through resource extraction, alienation and brute force, but then provides some keys to understanding the spirits and gods that animate the City, hints at what came before it, and strives to discover what lies beyond it. Lonely's quest is a poetic initiatory journey of a woman discovering the true world and her own place among the gods of our connected world. Lonely struggles with the dangers and consequences of
abandoning the ancient rites and Mysteries. She finds her way to the power of love in an attempt to heal herself, and then her world.
Lonely's journey is our collective story.
Mindi Meltz's Readings and Signings schedule:
Malaprops Bookstore Asheville Friday Oct 11th 7 pm
City Lights Bookstore Silva Saturday Nov 9th 3-4 pm
Firestorm Cafe Asheville Friday December 6th 7 pm
It begins with the unseen princess—named Lonely by the wind—of a City whose people have forgotten their bodies, hearts, and souls; as she escapes from her illusory tower to search for the mysterious prince who never showed up. Guided in her journey by wilderness outcasts, gods, and wise animals, she gradually becomes human; discovering her first desire with a tortured dragon god of the desert, and awakening to the cycles of earth and family on a humble mountain farm. At last she soars to spiritual heights with her ghost-prince above the clouds, only to lose him again, falling backward into the painful truth of her own past as the polluted river goddess carries her to the City at the Heart of the World. Long ago, Lonely's own father built the City on top of a mystical swamp, displacing her prince's people and forcing them to transform into shape-shifting dream gods. Now her search for her beloved intertwines with that of the dragon god, a seductive huntress haunted by her past, an abused child who in her madness hides her soul in the form of a
unicorn, and the witch who cursed Lonely but who paradoxically holds the key to her salvation. Battling the inner demons of rage and pain, all must find the courage to reclaim their own identities, wildness, and divinity in order to save the City and themselves from cataclysmic destruction.
Interview with Mindi Meltz
1. When did you begin writing? Why?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt such delicious joy and magic in my imagination and inner worlds. As a child I wrote children’s books and chapter books, often from the perspective of animals. I loved pretending, not because I didn’t like the reality I was in, but because to imagine myself inside other places and experiences was fascinating. And I always loved to think in terms of symbols and dreams. When I was very young, I was already wondering a lot about dreams and whether or not life itself was a dream. I was fortunate to attend a tiny, creative school in Maine that encouraged imagination and gave me weekly writing assignments. The earliest one I can remember was: “pretend you are a creature in the ocean and describe what it feels like.” I loved that one! More than anything else, it has always been nature that called me to write about it. As I grew older, I wanted especially to express how nature reflects the human soul, in a way that would be healing and inspire people to feel empathy for other beings.
2. When and why did you begin writing Lonely in the Heart of the World?
I played with the first ideas for it about ten years ago, when I was living in California. The setting there, the people I knew, and the passions that animated our lives at that time all felt very dramatic. I was moved by the loneliness I felt and saw around me, and I had the sense that all these beautiful, lonely people I knew were like gods and goddesses from some other world that, here in this world, had lost their sense of place and forgotten their true identities. That wasn’t the literal basis for my storyline, but it inspired some of the feeling behind it. Perhaps most of all, I wanted to write about humanity’s disconnection from each other, the planet, and our own hearts – and to write an epic story that, like a good dream, might inspire us to reconnect.
3. Explain the basic idea for your book.
Around that time, I also began to see my own journey of searching for a soulmate in a mythical context, which helped me make sense of it. I was haunted by an idea of the archetypal princess in the tower, who gets tired of waiting for her prince, comes down to search for him, and in the process discovers the world. That became the seed of the story. The many other characters in the story were born, at least in part, out of the living landscapes of her journey, which I began to connect with the four elements, Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Often the natural landscapes came into my mind first, and then the characters developed out of them.
4. Tell us about your journey to publication with this book.
To have my writing published and “out there” has been the greatest desire of my life for as long as I can remember. I’m a writer more than anything else, and in some ways what I express in my writing feels truer and more important than anything I express through my everyday personhood in the world. So in a way, I need my writing to be read in order to feel that I exist.
It was a difficult book to publish because of the length and because it crosses genres.
I received countless rejection letters, which was a familiar process because I’d already tried to publish two other books. I trained myself to stay positive and not give in to despair, and that was good for me. Judy helped with that a lot, and psychologically held my hand sometimes through some of the darker moments. Trying to find a publisher, someone who would recognize the value of my story and help me get it into the world, was a process of hope and longing which in a way mirrored the yearning for connection that underlies the novel itself. So it was a very meaningful journey for me.
5. Why did you choose to write about the topic, themes, issues you chose?
(I think I’ve already answered this one.)
6. How have you found it to be published? Share that experience.
My book hasn’t been released just yet, but I can say that working with my publisher has been a really sweet experience. I once talked with Terry Tempest Williams for a few minutes (at my college graduation, where she spoke), and she told me that getting published isn’t about competition; it’s about “finding your people.” And that’s what this has felt like for me. I found people who were kindred spirits, who truly appreciated and understood what I had written, who believed in it so much that they felt they had to get it out there, even though it was a financial risk for them. It’s a small, new publishing company. But I would rather work with them than any big company, no matter how influential. They are wise and kind and beloved to me, and they live right near me so we can meet for lunch, go over our work and our plans, and enjoy a real partnership that gives me the morale support I need to do all the difficult marketing part.
7. Do you have comments from readers or reviewers you’d like to share?
I received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and more recently a very positive review from ForeWord Reviews. You can read those on my website. As of this interview, the book isn’t out yet, but here’s a comment my publisher received from a farmer and permaculturist who read the first chapter (available for free on my website):
Wanted to say I read the first chapter of Lonely in the Heart of the World. I have never been so captivated by a novel in my life. I rarely even like novels. This one, though, is sure to be a jaw dropper. Will refer many people to it in the future.
8. What other books have you published and where, when?
I published a novel called Beauty in 2009. It’s available through my website and on Amazon. It was a shorter piece about a poet who falls for a cruel but fascinating wild man, and about the meaning of longing and what it is to be human versus animal. I also wrote a novella before that one, based on the selkie myth, but though I was able to secure an agent, it was never published.
9. Do you have a work in progress now?
Yes, but it’s very new, which means I can’t be sure yet if it’s going to fly. Even when I was writing Lonely… I was more than halfway through before I knew for sure that I was going to stick with it. I’m in the fun, unfettered dreaming stage of the process. I would tell you about it, but I never talk about what I’m writing before it’s done.
10. If you belong to any writing organizations, e.g., Sci Fi and Fantasy groups, has that been helpful? How?
I don’t. I honestly never considered my work a fantasy until people in the field told me it was. I thought of it as literary fiction with magic in it, set in a dreamscape. I should probably join some kind of group, I suppose that would be helpful. I’m solitary by nature and like to do things on my own, so it takes me some effort to motivate for such things.
11. What else would like to say about your books? Have you another one in the works?
I’m getting more and more into the medium of fairy tale and myth. I will probably continue on that path. Throughout history, fairy tales, folk tales, and myths have been helping people make sense of life in a deep way, deeper than the mind, on a visceral, soul level of understanding. Because of their language of beauty, and because of the sacred structure of story, they can feel more real than reality, as if they are crystallizing reality into a truer, more intuitive form.
At the same time, I love taking the abstract, idealized sketch of a fairy tale and filling it in with the gritty, sensual, emotional details of the living people and beings that inhabit it. And I need to believe in mythical creatures and lands. I don’t know how anyone can live without them.
Mindi's website: www.mindimeltz.com