The author’s journey from Ashland, 91, inspires the local book publisher to publish her novel
Ruth Wire, right, and Hilary Jacobson, with her parrot Dulcinea, discuss books at Jacobson’s Medford home on Thursday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
A Southern Oregon author whose first novel came out after her 90th birthday refuses to let its delayed publication keep her from finishing her story.
Ruth Wire’s second novel, ‘Saddle Shoes and Stardust,’ is nearly ready for release just a year after she published her first novel, a coming-of-age story, called ‘The Night Birds Still Sing,’ last year at the age of 90.
The novel is the second in what Wire calls the “Phoebe Rising” series, novels loosely based on the author’s experiences growing up in Southern California. “Saddle Shoes and Stardust” depicts the challenges of a school-age Jewish girl growing up in Los Angeles after World War II, her upbringing and awakening, as well as her path to studying nursing in the 1950s.
At 91 — she’ll be 92 in May, Wire points out — one might assume that two loosely inspired novels about her life and experiences would be enough; however, Wire says only half of what gets printed.
“I’m writing number five,” said Wire, of Ashland. “I hope I live long enough.”
Hilary Jacobson of Medford, owner of Rosalind Press, published the first two Wire novels and plans to publish Wire’s third and fourth chapters, and possibly the fifth. Since 2013, Jacobson has attended Wire’s writing group, HayWire Writers Workshop.
“I was listening to Ruth’s novels and loved them,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson — already an accomplished non-fiction author writing about alternative health — released his first novel this year, “Red Madder Root,” with the help and inspiration of Wire.
Wire and Jacobson plan to discuss their passion projects together during an autograph and author talk at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Ashland Library’s Gresham Room, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.
Wire has already completed manuscripts for the third and fourth installments which explore the character’s life in Mar Vista and Venice Beach, California—tentatively titled “Love Among the Grownups” and “Universe of Two”—as the character explores the changes of society and the inspiration in counterculture movements in the 1960s and beyond, the trials of single motherhood – not to mention many twists, turns, loves and losses.
Wire has been developing the ideas behind these stories for years in the writers’ workshop it has hosted since 1995.
Jacobson called Wire an “institution in the Ashland Writers Workshop scene,” but Wire said he found inspiration to start his own writers group after a series of rejections.
“I’ve been kicked out of two groups of writers,” Wire said.
Her realistic writing projects would focus on women’s experiences, including menstruation.
“It was too much for the sewing circle that called itself a group of writers,” Wire recalled.
Jacobson has self-published three alternative health books over the past two decades focusing on nutrition and natural remedies for nursing mothers, “Mother Food” in 2004, “Healing Breastfeeding Grief” in 2017, and “A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues” in 2021. But working with Wire and the writing crew helped inspire Jacobson to release his ambitious writing project this year.
Jacobson’s historical fiction novel explores the roots of long-running fairy tales across different eras and weaves in Jacobson’s extensive knowledge of women’s health and herbal remedies.
“Instead of evil sorceresses, you have mothers and daughters,” Jacobson said. “It’s kind of multi-layered but very delicate. He is teaching our forgotten ages.
The title of the book, “Red Madder Root”, alludes to the plant that would have dyed Little Red Riding Hood’s cloak.
“Red madder root was an abortifacient,” Jacobson said, adding that the fact was something that would have been widely known at the time.
Jacobson has been cultivating the idea behind the book since the 2000s, when he lived in Switzerland. When she sold the idea to publishers, however, she was encouraged to continue her studies on the historical suppression of women’s medicine as another non-fiction book.
She shelved the manuscript until the summer of 2021, when thick smoke from wildfires in Southern Oregon disrupted outdoor events and COVID-19 lockdowns canceled indoor events.
“I felt desolate,” Jacobson recalled.
He found a refuge and a respite from smoking in nature and inspiration from fresh eyes by looking at the project he started so many years ago.
“I’ve heard my voice from years and years before,” Jacobson recalled. “I just started crying.”
For more information about Jacobson, see hilaryjacobson.com.
For more information about Wire, see ruthwire.com and for more information about books published by Rosalind Press, see rosalindpress.com.
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