Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sharon Butala, Wise Woman

Dana spied a range of green hills ahead. As she crossed the stony field that lay before the hills, she discovered she wasn't alone. A woman walked there also, a rancher's wife dressed in jeans and jacket, with a scarf on her head. The woman was lost in her own musings, gazing up at the sky.
"This star-ridden, green and scented universe," she murmured.
The Book of Dreams

My friendship with Sharon Butala began with the writing of that paragraph, as I contacted her to ask for permission to put her in my book and also for permission to use the quote which is from one of her own books. Later on in my story, one of Dana's aunts, Deirdre, says "I'll be damned! You met Sharon Butala." And she and Yvonne talk about two of my favourite books by Sharon, The Perfection of the Morning and Wild Stone Heart. They are non-fiction books about the writer's relationship with the prairie landscape and the native spirits of the land. Truly beautiful works. She and I have emailed each other over the years and exchanged books. This month Sharon came to Ireland on a sightseeing tour and we finally met. In fact, I am hosting an author event for her at the Signal Arts Centre here in Bray this very evening: 7:00-9:00 pm, Albert Avenue, down near the Sea Front. Sharon will give a talk on her work and read from some of her books, including her latest The Girl in Saskatoon, about an unsolved murder of a beauty queen who was a classmate of hers back in the 1960s. Yesterday I spent the day with Sharon - brought her to Powerscourt House in Enniskerry - and I have convinced her to return to Ireland in the near future. I've spoken elsewhere about the magic of writing and how JRR Tolkien, noted linguist as well as writer, pointed out that the word "spell" means both a magical formula and a story told. Words have power. Words create reality. By writing about Sharon Butala, I ended up meeting her, just like my character. Magic. (Photo: Duane Prentice.


OR Melling said...

Hey Robyn, answered your comment on post below as that's where it went. Btw have you read Charles de Lint, amazing Canadian fantasy writer? I'm going to drop him a line to look at Cockatoo's website. You're like one of his characters. If you read any of his books you'll know what I mean. (It's a compliment.)

Sabrina said...

I visited Powerscourt when I was in Ireland this summer with my husband. It was one of my favourite gorgeous. I loved watching the horses in the field through the trees. Lovely.

I re-read The Hunter's Moon while I was there--it was so cool to read about a place and then go and visit it the next day. I have a photo of myself in front of the hill of Tara, holding on to the bars and trying to get in...haha. It was because of your books that I fell in love with Ireland as a child. It was so amazing to actually see it! Can't wait to read your new book!