Tuesday, April 15, 2014

House Of Ivy & Sorrow—A Book Of My Heart

Today House Of Ivy & Sorrow has been released into the world! And believe me when I say I'm excited about that, but in all honesty it also scares me very much. Because this book, while it may look like a story about witches on the surface, is really deeply personal.

At its heart, this book is really about Sisterhood to me, about the bonds that tie women together within and outside of family. Mother, grandma, sister, aunt, friend…these are the foundation of the witching culture I created, since there are no men who can use magic.

I pulled heavily from my own life, especially for Josephine's direct bloodline family. Her mother died when she was seven, which is about the time my grandmother died when I was little. It was my first experience with death, and so much of my lingering grief was put into this book. In fact, I kind of brought my grandmother back to life here, indulging in an alternate world where perhaps my mom died and my grandmother lived.

My grandma Dorothy, who was my inspiration
for Nana Dorothea Hemlock in
House Of Ivy & Sorrow.
My grandmother…she was just an amazing person. I was only eight when she passed, but even I could tell there was just something about her that was magic. As I say in the book about Jo's mom, my grandma "wasn't sunshine—she was the sun. Everything couldn't help but orbit around her, but nobody minded because she warmed them all up."

It's funny how your life just seeps into a book even when you're not trying. I hadn't even noticed until I finished the first draft that I named Nana practically the same name as my own grandmother, that I had created a woman who I imagine acts much like the woman I adored so much. I hadn't realized I built an old, ivy-covered home because of the comfort I felt in my grandma's old house.

I also didn't realize that I had put my dearest friends in the book for Jo to love. Friends were something I struggled to have and to keep in my earlier years, and it still surprises me every day that I have so many amazing friends in my life now who love and accept me and are incredibly supportive. So much so that I consider them family, and I would drop everything to help them in whatever they needed.

So yes, there is magic and cute boys and darkness in House Of Ivy & Sorrow, but what I hope people take away from this story is the solidarity and strength of all the amazing women in Jo's life, herself included. Because while there's some kissing here and there, the true "romance" of this book is the love and support Jo finds among the women surrounding her. And that is a message I think more girls need to hear in this world where women are constantly pitted against each other.

If you want to purchase House Of Ivy & Sorrow, here are some links to make it easy for you to do that:

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository


  1. Thank you Natalie for this sweet and tender tribute to my mom and to the never ending bonds we share through the generations of our ancestors. I've always felt passionate about this book and it will always remain at the top of my list of favorites that you've written. This is a book signing that breaks my heart that I can't be there in person for but I will be there in spirit because you're there representing all of the women in your life. You, your mother, your grandmother, your sisters, your aunts, your cousins, your friends...it goes on and on. I'm grateful for these bonds of love!!! You're AMAZING and I feel very deeply grateful to have you as my firstborn daughter!!!

  2. SO glad this book is out there now! I definitely got that from reading it, the bonds of sisterhood. I'm sure others will too. Love, love, love that this book is so meaningful to you!

  3. Beautiful post, Natalie. And I'm SUCH a proponent of female relationships in stories. Thanks for writing about so many different kinds here. :)

    Also, this line in particular resonates with me: "It's funny how your life just seeps into a book even when you're not trying." Just this past week, I had a huge revelation about my current WIP's protagonist, who is completely different from me in almost every way, at least on the surface -- but when I started thinking more about her journey in the story, I realized that she would be going through many of the same things I had.

    Anyway. Congrats on another book out in the world! I'm sure there will be many more to come. :)

  4. Big congrats Natalie! I can't wait to read this one.

  5. Thank you for sharing that beautiful post. And congratulations on the release!

  6. This sounds beautiful! I can't wait to meet your grandmother.

  7. I'm so excited to read this book! Congrats on the release!

  8. Congrats on House of Ivy And Sorrow's release!! OH GOSH. SO excited to read this one!! XD

  9. That's a lovely post. I seriously adore these behind the scenes thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I also wanted you to know that this book is almost always listed on Amazon next to mine for some reason (the you might also like section & stuff). And I love that.

    1. I am please with this, because you are kinda selling like a BOSS and all;)

  10. Oh my goodness - this post actually made me tear up. I had a very, very similar experience with my own grandmother (the one for whom my mom, Kate, and I are all named!) dying when I was 9. Especially with Kate in the picture, I often find myself wishing she was still around to hold and cuddle her little namesake! Ever since you first started posting about HOUSE OF IVY way back when, I've been particularly excited to read this one! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

  11. pretty nice blog, following :)