A story of retribution about American missionaries in rural China in 1910 whose toddler son is stolen by Mongol bandits and whose search for him across a dangerous land comes to haunt them, changing not only what they believe but who they are.
When she learns that her husband has been kidnapped in Afghanistan, the swirl of events here and abroad sends Clarissa into the late-night streets of Brooklyn and connects her to a wider world of warriors and survivors.
Disgraced and fired from his newspaper job, a young man returns to the Florida town of his birth to begin searching for a daughter he has only recently learned may exist and who could be at considerable risk.
Below are words from Virginia Pye, Author of River of Dust, an Indie Next Pick for May, 2013
Every novelist I know has at least one unpublished manuscript tucked away in a drawer. River of Dust is my sixth novel, though it’s my debut book publication. Novel writing often requires a long apprenticeship, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Each book I’ve written has been better than the last, and while at the time I didn’t see it this way, perhaps it’s all for the best that the early ones never met a general public. Those books were more for me.
Which raises a question: for whom do we write? I remember my very first poem. It was about a snowflake melting on my forearm when I stepped indoors from a winter storm. The poem suggested that the inevitable melting was like life itself. In the second stanza, I tied that image to an even weightier one of a match being blown out—more evidence of the brevity and sorrow of life. I was eleven years old and very pleased with myself.
I held my notebook up before me and didn’t know enough yet to be nervous as I read aloud my first poem to my mother who stood stirring a pot on the stove. When I finished, she said that it was very nice, and then asked me to grab the milk for her from the refrigerator. She wasn’t dismissive. Not at all. She was kind and encouraging, but I still felt a shocking let-down. Did she grasp what my poem really meant? Did she understand the magnitude of what I was trying to say? Not exactly. She had dinner to get on the table.
And so I learned quickly about the yawning gap between what a piece of writing can mean to the writer and what it may mean to a reader. I think most writers don’t have a reader in mind when we start scribbling in journals as young people, recording events and observations. We riff off of dialogue we’ve overheard because it’s fun. We comment on life in clever ways on pages that no one will see but us. This lack of audience provides room to experiment and develop our own keen voices.
But then we’re faced with the task of taking that initial impulse and amplifying, honing, and perfecting it for the sake of actual readers: to go from simply enjoying our words, to learning how to tell a story that others will find interesting, or if we work really hard at it, profound. The process is so complex that when we finally do achieve success, the reasons for it may remain mysterious to us.
But that impulse to share a vision of the world through words which I first felt as a snowflake melted on my arm—that’s where it all begins. I liken that moment to when God gives Adam the honor and thrill of naming each and every thing. From there to a published novel is as long a path as the one Adam has been taking ever since.