Her last book in the “Shadow Girls” series has been completed and will be published in 2022, and author Kate Ristau said she was “very excited to see this series through to the end”.
The book is steeped in folklore and mythology, as are all of Ristau’s books, because she said her experience was folklore and mythology… “I have been reading myths since I was a child.”
Her series of books, ‘Shadow Girls’, is set in Ireland and is published by a small press, Not a Pipe Publishing, and Ristau said: “They are, to put it simply, a dream publisher. They encourage all of their authors to work together and support each other. My last book in the “Shadow Girls” series is finished, but still needs a fair amount of editing before it will be published in 2022. “
Ristau, the former Kate Anderson, daughter of Jeanne Anderson, Geneseo, now lives in Portland, OR., With her husband Bob Ristau, also formerly of Geneseo. The couple have a son.
After graduating from Geneseo High School, Ristau graduated from Illinois State University where she majored in English. She then went on to study at the University of Limerick for an Irish Studies program that explored Irish language, folklore and music… “My time there shaped the stories I would later write”, a- she declared. “I’ve learned that the best stories speak directly to the reader – they resonate with them. My teacher stood in front of the class and told us the story of when a friend of a friend met a leprechaun late one night near the fairy tree. I’ve learned that the stories that stick tell us something about the world we live in – how it works and who we are.
“It’s the thing with mythology, the stories that endure are the stories that matter to a culture and a people,” Ristau said.
She went to college to study folklore and mythology and it was the stories she read about Ireland that sparked her first book, “Shadow Girl,” which Ristau says is about a girl born. in our world but kidnapped by the fey. She returns to our world to find out the story of what really happened to her as a child.
“The draft of this first book slipped out of my fingers, but it took years and many revisions before it actually got published by a small press,” she said.
The young author said she grew up “reading and writing… I still have stories I wrote in third and fourth grades, and so many poems scratched out of notebooks and journals. I always knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t really know how someone became a writer. Now I know you become a writer by, well, by writing! “
Ristau added that reading is just as important as writing and said, “You also have to read. Reading is your chance to explore other worlds and learn from writers. In fact, I learned the most from the books I hated.
His experience in folklore and mythology was part of his childhood when his mother read him stories from Greek mythology. “They helped me understand how stories work and what matters to us,” she said. “We watched ‘Clash of the Titans’ over and over until the VHS tape was finely scratched, and we turned into ‘Hercules and Xena Warrior Princess.’ I kept thinking about these stories and writing my own. I still remember teachers like (Stephen) LaCroix encouraging me and believing in me.
Ristau writes her first drafts quickly, “but they need a lot of work before they’re ready for readers,” she said. “My first reader is, and always will be, my mom. She reads the book, tells me I’m amazing, then gives me advice that always makes the book better. After making changes, I share the book with other readers and do their revisions before my editor rereads it.
Ristau’s most recent book, “Wylde Wings”, has undergone “a big series of edits over the past few years,” she said. “In fact, I got a lot of help from two of my mom’s eighth grade classes. (Jeanne Anderson taught at Geneseo Middle School before her retirement). They read the book and made comments that helped transform the book.
She received a grant from the Regional Council of Arts and Culture to launch her Mythwakers series, a documentary exploration of mythological characters… “I start with the ‘Minotaur’, of course. I have read about her since I was a child and love to share her story with new readers.
“Wylde Wings” is now available for preorder on Kickstarter and all of Ristau’s books are available online at independent bookstores, and “at the library, of course,” she said.
Ristau is a firm believer in the power of libraries and she remembers reading the stacks of books in her classroom while a student at St. Malachie in Geneseo.
“After school, we would go to the Geneseo public library to see what’s new or discover unexpected treasures,” she said. “I always have this feeling of wonder every time I walk into a library with my own son. “
“Since the start of the pandemic, I have also had the opportunity to help with the virtual programming of the Geneseo public library,” said Ristau. “It has been a joy to work with young writers as they explore their own new worlds and create fantastic characters.”
Her advice to other writers – “Being a writer is difficult, but writing itself is so rewarding. When I’m immersed in a story, the world fades away and I can tell truths that I couldn’t otherwise. Stories have a way of revealing love, life, and truth. When you write down your truth, your world opens up, sentence by sentence. You start to see everything differently. Just like mythology, a good story can get us to the heart of who we are and who we want to be. So if you have a hard time just keep writing. Keep telling your truth. The world needs your stories.