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The Ninth Day

Berkeley, California, 1964. While the Free Speech Movement rages, Hope, a shy, stuttering teen scarred by an accidental LSD trip, plans to keep a low profile. Risk compounds reticence when she meets a time-traveler who claims that Hope must find a way to stop a father from killing his newborn son in 11th century Paris.

Companion novel to award-winning Blue Thread.

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“The story is riveting… and, speaking as someone who was arrested in the Free Speech Movement, the Berkeley sections feel true and authentic.”

—Margot Adler, NPR correspondent

“Reading this book… [reveals] constellations rich with story, myth, and magic.”

—Jen Violi, author of Putting Makeup on Dead People

Ruth's Blog: The Interlace Place


Lay down steel. Pour cement. Repeat. The construction workers on the Janey II are getting up toward the middle of the building. And (ta-dum!) I am getting to the middle on my first draft of Book Three. They’ll have lots of interior work to do eventually, and I’ll have lots of revising. Still, Team J2 and Team B3 are both showing definite signs of progress.

But now our paths diverge. The construction crew aims to erect room after room and floor after floor with a certain sameness that works well with apartment buildings. My aim is to make the middle of Book Three anything but the same old same-old. Middles can be middling if you don’t watch out. The first part of the story has the advantage of newness (NOVELty, as it were), where readers discover who the characters are, where and when they live, and what drives them. The last part has the satisfaction of bringing everything together. […]

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So there I was, at breakfast today, chowing down my regular oatmeal and yogurt on a regular weekday with regular summer weather (unlike the recent scorchers). But something was oddly out of whack. No construction noise. I checked out the window and this is what I saw: lots of steel and concrete and not a living soul. Hey, where’d everybody go?

Builders build. That’s the way things are supposed to work. For months now, that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Janey II crew: five days a week, and sometimes on Saturday, from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. at least. Bonking, banging, clanging, whirring, slamming, whamming, and the occasional BOOM! This morning’s quiet was unnerving.

Builder’s block? The silence reminded me of remarks attributed to Philip Pullman about the dreaded syndrome known as “writer’s block.”

Writer’s block…a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. […]

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Today I put aside my competition with the construction crew of The Janey II. No way can I write the next scene in Book Three, as I remember Margot Adler, who took time from her life last year to write a review of my most recent book, The Ninth Day. She called the story “riveting.” Who could ask for more?

Still, I did.

I was hoping to meet Margot in person this fall during the reunion of participants in the 1964 Free Speech Movement. I wanted to thank her again, this time in person. I wanted her to autograph one of her books, Heretic’s Heart. I wanted, and I wanted, and I wanted.

Margot and I are not destined to meet in this lifetime, as she died yesterday. From what I understand of Margot’s Wiccan beliefs, she has made the crossing into another aspect of the continuum which, now that I think of it, is not so different from the universe-eternity olam I write about in Blue Thread and The Ninth Day. […]

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