Grendolyn Peach Soleil was born in the land of sweet tea and misty mountains. She is an old soul and a folk magic fiend. During the day, Grendolyn serves her community as a trauma psychologist, and she moonlights as an author because it is good medicine for her soul. She is the author of Limbo Jubilee and The Mermaids Melt at Dawn. Her books have earned Literary Titan gold awards and a Pinnacle achievement award.
Grendolyn is a member of the Visionary Fiction Alliance and The Independent Author Network. She is a sucker for twisted fairy tales, all things vintage, tales of true love, and creature features. Some of her fancies include key lime pie, red thunderbirds, moonstones, black cats, mermaids, cowboys, mandolins, and sunsets. Grendolyn lives a merry life in the desert where adventure is around every corner. Click on The Bookworm tab above for more information about Grendolyn's books.
You can also read her interviews below with Literary Titan to learn more about Limbo Jubilee and the Mermaids Melt at Dawn.
The Magic Sensation
September 26, 2020
LT: The Mermaids Melt at Dawn spins several yarns into a mythical story that combines many different genres. What was the initial idea behind this book and how did it change as you wrote?
GPS: When I started writing The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, I was inspired to begin the story like an old fairy tale. I also wanted the story to be somewhat tethered to reality, especially in the beginning, so I combined my passion for vintage fairy tales and historical fiction. Rok, a Cajun boy growing up on the bayou in the 1800s, was the first character to enter my imagination, and from there, the story transformed into a nautical adventure to Barbiche Island. I have always been fascinated by mermaids and Greek Mythology, so I decided to add a flair of mythology as well.
I am drawn to stories where humans, gods, and creatures coexist. I think there is something incredible about Rok, a real human, witnessing the mermaids of Barbiche Island. Rok lifted the veil between reality and fantasy and tasted the magic that humans so often dream about. As I wrote The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, I tried to capture the magic sensation we feel when we see the first snowflakes of winter or when we catch the first wave in the ocean.
LT: Yarn 8 is my favorite from the book. Do you have a favorite yarn?
GPS: As I created different yarns and characters, I was curious to see which ones readers would enjoy the most. Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, Yarn 8/The Curse of Rhodanthea is a fan favorite and the most treasured yarn. Yarn 8 happens to be my favorite yarn as well. Of all the characters, I think Rhodanthea embodies a beautiful brokenness and a humble strength. For me, she is the perfect blend of human, god, and creature features. My second favorite yarns are Yarn 7/The Maiden and The Lyre and Yarn 9/The Rot Spine Monster. I had so much fun writing them, and they brought back fond memories of reading Greek Mythology as a child.
LT: Each yarn seemed to focus on a different theme or had its own feeling. What were some emotions or feelings you wanted to capture in your stories?
GPS: Each yarn captures different emotions, moods, and personalities. Much like vintage fairy tales, each character can represent the light and dark aspects of ourselves. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn illuminates common archetypal patterns that are shared by all humans. Some of the experiences I tapped into are anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, love, humility, jealousy, joy, revenge, and remorse. I also crafted the story with some moments of surprise and horror as an homage to fairy tales and mythology, which were not rainbow and butterfly stories. They often had grim and shocking endings. Who could forget when Little Red Riding Hood found the granny wolf in bed, or when the old witch planned to stuff Hansel in the oven?
LT: What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
GPS: With Halloween just around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to write a paranormal romance! My next book is in the early stages of the creative process, but characters and scenes are coming to life more and more every day. I hope to release my newest book within the next 6 months, and maybe it will be in time for Valentine’s Day!
Humans Can Be The Curse And The Cure
July 11, 2020
LT: Limbo Jubilee follows Neala as she experiments with what it means to be human as her panic escalates with every page. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
GPS: I experienced an existential crisis, the gut punch of grief, at a formative age in my life, which inspired me to write Limbo Jubilee. I wrote Limbo Jubilee as an ode to my family, my ancestors, and the misty mountains where I grew up. I wanted to illuminate the intricacies of culture, trauma, and healing. I wanted to share the message that humans can be the curse and the cure and to not give up on each other as tempting as it may be.
My granny taught me that it hurts to be human, and pain is inevitable, but she also taught me that what matters most is how I respond to my pain. Humans are masters at avoiding, ignoring, and numbing their pain in all sorts of destructive ways. Humans are sly creatures and can spread their pain to others along the way. Humans are also incredibly good at getting so stuck in their pain that they can’t imagine living life any other way, but my granny taught me to face my pain with courage. Writing Limbo Jubilee was my way of transforming my brokenness into something beautiful.
LT: Neala is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
GPS: I was born in Appalachia where the line between fairy tales and memoirs is imaginary. What many people call fairy tales and folklore, I call reality. Folk magic is as real as the rolling hills in West Virginia. My granny talks to the rivers, the sunflowers, the moon, and the stars, and she believes that they talk back to her. Granny’s mountain medicine is not a complementary or alternative medicine for me. In fact, there is nothing as powerful as the first sip of granny’s elderberry tonic on a cold, October night by the campfire.
Neala’s character reflects my own experiences growing up in Appalachia where magical realism is a way of life. It is a reality of its own. The human brain constructs memories and narratives, and to some degree, all memoirs are imaginary, existing in the planes of shared realties and unique realities. Memoirs are cultural artifacts, spinning tales of who we are and where we come from. Neala’s character reflects the values and beliefs of her culture, shifting between different voices and different planes of reality. Is she the alien or the human? The little girl or the therapist? The healer or the wounded? The sinner or the saint? Neala is all of them, and she writes in a style that is authentic to her experience.
The way that humans experience the world is based on so many different factors. Naturally then, readers will have a variety of reactions to Neala and to Limbo Jubilee. As for me, Neala is a raw and real character with both light and dark qualities, and at its core, Limbo Jubilee is a story of empowerment and healing.
LT: What were some themes you felt were important to explore in this book?
GPS: Limbo Jubilee is a visionary celebration and explores visionary and metaphysical themes. Limbo Jubilee is a metaphor for being human and alien, earthly and otherworldly, broken and blessed, and all in the same breath. To be in the wheelhouse of visionary and speculative fiction with incredible authors like Margaret Atwood is a dream come true for me.
Limbo Jubilee provides observations and commentary on society. For example, it discusses the pressure for women to have children and how having children is viewed as normal and human. The alien living on planet Spry is a metaphor for how women without children can be viewed in our culture. Limbo Jubilee also explores and challenges the normalcy of addiction, as well as the black-and-white thinking that leads to extremes.
Limbo Jubilee is the anthem for creatures of the in between, shedding light on both earthly and sacred dimensions and exploring religion and spirituality. There are moments in life when we are fully present in our humanity, and moments when we morph into a creature feature, and moments when we shine as bright as the golden gods of eternity.
LT: What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
GPS: I am very excited to reveal my next book, The Mermaids Melt at Dawn. I am currently waving my magic wand and putting on the finishing touches. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a departure from my brain-busting and heartstring-pulling debut novella, Limbo Jubilee. I don’t want to spoil the mystery, but I’ll offer a quick teaser. Close your eyes and imagine a rowdy Cajun from Louisiana, a pair of warring mermaid sisters, a greedy Poseidon, petulant gods, and a magical island called Barbiche. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a melting pot for Cajun fairy tales and Greek Mythology. It will be released in late July or August 2020!
To learn more about Grendolyn's passion for visionary fiction, magical realism, and fairy tales, you can read her article below or click on the link to visit the Visionary Fiction Alliance.
Fairy Tales, Memoirs, and Other Appalachian Mysteries
June 22, 2020
Fairy tales and memoirs share some common elements. They can develop reflective narratives for understanding the world we live in. They can explore the good and evil aspects of ourselves and others. Fairy tales and memoirs can express common emotions and universal experiences, and they can impart wisdom and deliver important messages. Both fairy tales and memoirs grapple with existential issues and satisfy our curiosity as humans and as creatures.
The Imaginary Line between Fairy Tales and Memoirs
I am grateful to have been born in Appalachia where the line between fairy tales and memoirs is imaginary. Making a distinction between fairy tales and memoirs feels very unnatural to me as an Appalachian woman. What many people call fairy tales and folklore, I call reality. Folk magic is as real as the rolling hills in West Virginia. My hilljack granny talks to objects on a daily basis, and she believes that the rivers, the sunflowers, the moon, and the stars talk back to her. Granny lives in the here and now. Her stories are not sequential. She goes wherever the wind blows and wears her heart on her sleeve. Granny’s mountain medicine is not a complementary or alternative medicine for me. In fact, there is nothing as powerful as the first sip of granny’s elderberry tonic on a cold, October night by the campfire.
Pearls of Wisdom from My Hilljack Granny
What my granny lacks in formal education, she more than compensates for in pearls of wisdom.
It hurts to be human, and pain is inevitable. My granny survived The Great Depression, the death of her father, domestic violence, the death of her son, mental illness, and addiction. Granny’s mama never took a shine to her, and once upon a time, I asked her why there was bad blood between her and her mama. A quote from my granny sums it up better than I can. “Reasons don’t grow on trees. Sometimes, there ain’t a reason, so stick that in yer pipe and smoke it. Besides, that old bitty don’t bother me no more. I’m a rich woman cause I got me the rivers, the hills, and the trees.”
What matters most is how you respond to painful experiences. Humans are masters at avoiding, ignoring, and numbing their pain in all sorts of destructive ways. Humans are very sly and can spread their pain to others along the way. Humans are also incredibly good at getting so stuck in their pain that they can’t imagine living life any other way, but granny teaches me to face my pain with courage and let it transform my brokenness into something beautiful.
We are creatures of the in between, and we need to nurture both our earthly and our sacred dimensions. In her own humble way, granny asks the tough questions in life and dares herself to live a life of purpose and meaning. Granny teaches me that there will be moments when we are wholly present in our humanity, and moments when we morph into a creature feature, and moments when we shine as bright as the golden gods of eternity.
Humans live in the land of fairy tales, and there is magic in simplicity. Fairy tales take common objects and transform them into conduits of the divine. Fairy tales transport us to a world where anything is possible, and there is no limit to our imagination. Granny teaches me to worship roses, rabbits, apples, mirrors, and spindles because any object can have magical properties.
Limbo Jubilee: A Visionary Celebration
After many long and painful years of trying to reconcile my reality with the world’s reality, I decided to write a memoir to capture my experiences and to conjure up my healing. In my quest for the cure, I explored the lonely frontiers of the human spirit and wrote Limbo Jubilee, my debut novella. Initially, when I read the final product, I was very worried. It troubled me that my novella didn’t fit neatly into any category, but somewhere along the way, I embraced the mystery. After all, memoirs live in the land of fairy tales where memories are constructed, and narratives are imaginary.
Limbo Jubilee is a visionary celebration. It is a metaphor for being human and alien, earthly and otherworldly, broken and blessed, and all in the same breath. In our modern world, we talk endlessly and try to explain everything, but when children read fairy tales, they open their hearts and expand their minds, hoping that something unexplainable will happen. Magic and mystery make life worth living. They are common languages that unite humans and beasts.
Visionary fiction and magical realism are not just fancy literary concepts. For me and granny, they are a way of life. They are family values that I carry with me. They are my lifeblood and my north star. When I write visionary fiction, I transform my joy and my pain into something meaningful, and it nurtures both the Appalachian woman and the slippery creature within me.
© 2020 by Grendolyn Peach Soleil