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Abby D. Jones

Author
abby@asbyandjones.com

Abby D. Jones is an author published with Vulgaris Media. Here is a message from her about what she would like readers to know.

"Stories Let Us Practice Being Brave Before We Have To Be." 

 

This instruction from my mother on the value of stories is woven into my being and is the foundation of my writing. I do not want safe stories. I want stories where death is real, loss is real, where suffering and tragedy are the threads on the loom, but never without hope. A golden thread must be woven through the story of virtue, hope, and a happy ending. When I weave a story together it must be able to bear up under the weight of life, but it must set life right in the end, or how else will I ever be brave? We can’t practice being brave if we

aren’t afraid. We can’t practice courageous endurance if we aren’t crawling through the night. But we also can’t carry on if the stars are not still there. “Paint the canvas black and at the last moment raise the sun,” a reader once encouraged me in a moment of self-doubt. Stories can’t help us through the darkness if they don’t convey some of that darkness themselves - but never darkness only. 

 

“Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat… giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” - Tolkien 

 

I believe that all writers must first be readers, and above all else, I am a voracious reader and always have been. I learned to read young and never stopped. There is magic in words on paper that delights my soul. I can hide away for hours in a book. My first and longest-running literary love is The Lord of the Rings, and really Tolkien as a whole. I have read many of his works and want to read them all. I want every scrap of paper his hand scribbled on. I am almost always in a constant state of rereading The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. I have read them more times than I can now count. Tolkien’s work speaks to me in a way no other literature does. Delving deeper into his heart and mind has made me love his work more, not less, which is a rare gift. But I do not aim to be Tolkien. I believe he was a unique coming together of language, history, war, and imagination that will not be seen again. I merely sit at his feet and try to understand some of the crumbs I can gather off the floor. I very much feel a rustic Sam to his Elrond, Eärendil’s son. 

 

My reading choices have changed much as I have walked this weary pilgrim road of life. I am more picky about my fantasy novels now. I don’t read as much horror or True Crime, though they have lastingly influenced me. One can’t read Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker in one's teens without any effect, nor binge Stephen King and Dean Koontz without stitching parts of them into your soul. But, I’d like to think I’m more shaped by years of reading Louis L’Amour books and my beloved Easy Company stories. I’m from Texas, so Westerns are just part of my life. I grew up on John Wayne and believe that Westerns are our fairytales and myths here in the U.S. They are part of the soil in which we’re nationally rooted. Louis L’Amour is my Western writer. I have inherited both my Dad’s and my Grandmother’s copies. I think L’Amour sets the highest bar for strong femininity that I’ve ever read. I pull from his books without even realizing I’m pulling from his books. They are embedded in my being.  

 

Somewhere along the way in my early twenties I finally found some non-fiction I would devour: Military History. Not political history, but boots-on-the-ground stories of men standing between death and their friends, of courage and sacrifice seen in moments of terror and confusion, of good men doing great things and then quietly going back to their lives, but never really going back. I started with We Were Soldiers Once and Young, moved on to Black Hawk Down, and then landed somewhere in Band of Brothers, the 101st Airborne. I watched the TV show several years after it came out and something simply clicked, like my love of Tolkien. I’ve been collecting Easy Company stories ever since. My husband calls Major Dick Winters my guy. You also can’t study Modern Military History without running into Helmet for My Pillow and Robert Leckie. After Tolkien, he’s my favorite writer. No one loved Marines like that man and it shines through even in the worst imaginable situations. I will admit to writing flash fiction based on some of the stories Leckie told.  

 

Many years ago, someone asked me what my current WIP was about, and going red in the face at having to share something so personal, I said, “It’s a warrior story.” All my stories are warrior stories in one way or another. I have a great love for warriors. I am profoundly moved by their sacrifices, courage, and willingness to do it all again for the ones they love, for their brothers. 

 

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” - Heraclitus 

 

There are two other books I must directly mention because they are always shelved deeply in my heart. Watership Down by Richard Adams is a book I read every year, typically in the autumn which is when it feels most appropriate. In my mind, Watership Down is hobbitish tale. It is so steeped in the same aether that Tolkien was you can feel it, you can feel England. I love the stories, the rabbit myths, the brotherhood (brotherhood is kinda my thing), and the fight they make for their home. This story haunts me. It’s always there in the back of my mind and always feels like home and friends. My copy is worn with comments, highlights, and tears.  

 

The Exorcists by William Peter Blatty is the other book I can’t discount. It’s a newer weave in the loom of my life that I don’t often talk about because it is so hard to talk about. I can’t freely recommend it. It requires a strong mind and a strong stomach. It’s not a particularly fun read though it is gorgeously written, I mean mind-blowingly gorgeously written. But how do you say that a book might be one of the most beautifully written works penned by man as long as you can handle demon possession of a child and Black Mass stuff? But here’s the thing, The Exorcists is a story of a man who has lost his faith in God and an older man who reminds him that just like love is a choice, so is faith, and he needs to choose faith. It is violent, disturbing, and soul-strengthening if you understand the story. It is a canvas as black as they come, but the sun shining at the end is worth the dark, if you can see it. 

 

Ultimately, I adhere as a writer to this quote from Saving Mr. Banks: “…that’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” 

 

As I pick apart the threads of what makes me the writer that I am, I must touch on two final things. First, I never saw this in myself until my dear Alana pointed it out, but I am constantly retelling Beauty and the Beast. I think this ties into my love of warriors. I love the story of the battle-hardened man and the woman who stands by his side, lights his way back home, comforts his nightmares, and empowers him to stay in the fight. Somehow, someway, I’m always reshaping this age-old fairy tale. Second, I am a homemaker to my core. I believe in the profound power of cheering strength and merry durability as they are found in a home managed by a woman who cares. This too shapes the fabric I’m weaving when I set pen to paper and let my imagination gallop freely across the open plain. 

 

All this is me. All this is found in Stoneheart and all the books Alana and I will weave together. 

"Psyche's job, everyone's job, was to do the hard things that needed doing, trusting that somehow it would be well. It would not be, the Song reminded her, an easy hope. It was not a lazy summer morning hope. It was the sharp cut of ice, the depths of snow, the frozen night sky. It did not mean - it had never meant - that anyone escaped suffering. It had never meant that Psyche could not lose everything she cherished. But it was hope nonetheless. A hope that promised all evil, no matter how twisted, could and would be straightened back to good." -Stoneheart 

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