Ronlyn Domingue authored The Mapmaker's War. Its sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, is forthcoming in 2014. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, was published in 10 languages. Her writing has appeared in The Beautiful Anthology, New England Review, The Independent and Shambhala Sun as well as on mindful.org and The Nervous Breakdown. She is a Louisiana native and LSU alumna.
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The Mapmaker's War
This will be the map of your heart, old woman.
In an ancient time, in a faraway land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom's mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger, Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy.
With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth. On this most important of journeys, there is no map to guide her. In this tale — her autobiography — Aoife reveals her pain and joy, and ultimately her transformation.
The Mapmaker's War is a mesmerizing, utterly original adventure about love and loss and the redemptive power of the human spirit. Watch for its epic sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, in 2014.
What is the most important lesson readers can learn from your book The Mapmaker’s War: A Legend?
We choose the evil we do to each other—in families, communities, nations—and because of this, we have the power to choose peace and kindness instead.
What motivated you to tell this story?
That’s a tricky question. I don’t choose my novels. They choose me. These characters demanded to have their stories told, and that’s what I did.
The idea for this project incubated for many years and evolved in recent ones. As a college sophomore, I wrote a fairy tale for a literature class which seemed like a great idea for a novel. It was about a young girl who lived in a kingdom where women weren’t taught to read and how she saved the prince by breaking that rule. I worked on the project in my early 20s, and during that period, a subplot emerged about a woman from an ancient culture who was somehow tied to the narrator of the book. I had no clue what I was doing then—the novel was a mess. After a few years of piddling, I boxed up my draft and notes, figuring I’d never look at it again. Well, in October 2006, I discovered the box in my closet. Within two days, the plot completely transformed into something far more ambitious and difficult. I expected to write one epic novel in which the small subplot was part of the story. But the more I wrote, the more it was clear Aoife wanted to have her own say. She wouldn’t be contained as a side story in someone else’s.
What was the most enjoyable part of the process of writing this book?
I liked reading about myths, folklore and fairy tales to prepare for the writing, but the best part by far was finishing it.
What excites you about the festival?
Writing is a solitary profession, and I like having the chance to connect with other authors in person. I also enjoy the Q&As at the sessions to hear what readers have to say.
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