Today we are visited by middle grade fantasy author Kimberly Ruff. She’s here today to tell us about her novel, Saving Tír na nÓg. But first Kimberly, tell us about yourself, please.
I live in Northern Virginia with my football-crazed husband, two entertaining daughters, and a nut-job-of-a-dog (my daughter’s words, not mine). I teach courses in international relations for the American Military University. Before the COVID-19 quarantine, I also worked as a substitute teacher at my daughters’ elementary school. What can I say? I still enjoy school!
I love meeting new people; exploring magical places; and all the sticky predicaments, adventures, and emotions sparked by books. Reading and writing are two of my favorite things. I haven’t a clue what’s going on around me when I’m writing. The house could be burning down, and I wouldn’t even notice. I’m counting on my husband to save the children and the dog. I’m happiest when I’m in my PJs snuggled next to my dog with a good book or writing on my laptop with Dove dark chocolates and a warm cup of coffee nearby.
Kai: Boy do I understand the house burning down reference. Me too! Now, tell us about your book. What a beautiful cover!
Saving Tír na nÓg is a middle grade fantasy novel steeped in Irish Mythology. It’s a noblebright novel with strong themes of self-discovery, self-sacrifice, kindness, courage, friendship, family, faith, hope, and love. This journey begins with Madison…
Madison is just like any other twelve-year-old mucking through middle school until suddenly she’s not. She should have known something was wrong when her mom forgot to meet her at the bus stop. Those suitcases stacked inside the door, now that gave her pause… but her mother explained them away. Sort of. It’s not like your dad goes missing every day. She was certain it was all a big misunderstanding… poor cell service, a lost cell phone, or a dead battery… but if that mishap scored her a trip to Ireland, she was game. Perhaps those wrinkly little men skulking around the pubs down by the River Liffey should have clued her in that her life was about to change in a very big way… but no. Everything Madison thought she knew about this world, her family, her life was ripped away by six outlandish words… “I am Sidhe, as are you.” “What’s a Sidhe?” you ask. The Sidhe are a regal, god-like people with unearthly beauty and unfathomable grace. They are the immensely powerful, magic-wielding faeries born in Celtic Mythology… the water, air, and wood spirits who have battled against demons and protected mankind for centuries. Madison has just discovered she is one of them… but she is no ordinary Sidhe. Madison is one of the Chosen Ones, one of three young girls secreted inside the human realm at birth, protected by Sidhe guardians until they’re old enough to fulfill the prophecy. “What is this prophecy?” you gasp. Ah. If you wish to obtain that knowledge, then you must journey into Otherworld, cross through Tír na nÓg into Ogham, and eat the berries from the Rowan Tree. Please hurry. The border between the realms is crumbling. Violence, evil, and darkness are ascending, threatening to destroy the Chosen Ones, the human realm, and Tír na nÓg. You must protect them at all costs… or all will be lost.
Saving Tír na nÓg is available as an e-book and in paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FPPV2BN.
Kai: It sounds truly fantastical! What inspired you to write it?
My daughter Madison inspired me to write this book. I’ll admit, I was a little worried when she told me she wanted a book about fairies. I thought… “Fairies? She’s in sixth grade. She’s too old for fairies.” Of course, I was picturing Tinkerbell inside my head. But then, I realized I could introduce her to real faeries… to the very grown up, beautiful, and sometimes terrifying faeries, better known as the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Celtic deities born in Irish Mythology. Now, that was a topic I could get excited about. I’ve always been intrigued by the Sidhe. There is Irish blood coursing through my veins after all. And so… this novel was born.
Kai: What a great way to be inspired! I hope your daughter appreciated your faeries. Okay, are you ready for a little bit of fun? In order for our readers to get to know you better, please share your top three answers to the following:
Top 3 character traits you like to add to all or most of your characters:
I try to ensure my characters are courageous, compassionate, and imperfect. The people I admire most in this world are courageous and they treat others with compassion. Given the amount of time I spend with my characters, it only makes sense that I would want them to have these very same traits. So, why would I choose imperfect? Well, no one is perfect. We all have flaws, and we all make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow. Imperfect characters are relatable, and their mistakes make for a far more interesting read.
Top 3 pieces of advice for kids today
1. I would offer the same advice Madison offered her friends in Saving Tír na nÓg: “Those limits you have been applying to yourself don’t really exist.” Like Madison, I believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Your options and your ability to succeed are only limited if you allow them to be. I’ve met people who have overcome some incredible obstacles, childhood abuse, extreme poverty, and heartbreaking medical diagnoses, just to name a few. I had a team of medical professionals tell me my daughter would never walk, talk, see, or hear. She has proven them wrong at every turn. She can ride a bike, roller skate, swim, and so much more. When it comes to your goals, your hopes, and dreams, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. The second they do, I want you to prove them wrong.
2. I’m borrowing this one from Cinderella’s mom: “Have courage and be kind.” I believe you need courage to succeed in life and being kind to others is far more important than anything else you could possibly accomplish. People need kindness just as much, maybe even more, than the air they breathe. Kindness is healing, it’s heroic, it’s empowering, it’s life-changing, and it’s essential to every living thing. You can make this world a better place and you can literally save lives simply by being kind.
3. My last piece of advice is for those who are going through a difficult time: “Hold onto hope.” When your spirit is broken, when you’re hurting inside, when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed, I want you to know there are better days ahead. This pain you are feeling will subside. You will feel better in time. Happier times are waiting right around the corner. Hold onto hope, and you will find them.
Top 3 personal mantras or inspiration phrases:
My favorite mantra is inscribed above my fireplace. It reads, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s learning to dance in the rain.”
Another personal favorite can be found in my romantic suspense series: “It’s through our brokenness that we find the courage and strength to do great things.”
An inspirational phrase I frequently recite is: “You are stronger than you know.”
Kai: Very inspirational. I’m so glad you stopped in today. Saving Tír na nÓg sounds like a great read, right readers? Feel free to like and share this blog post to support Kimberly and her faeries. Kimberly, where can readers connect with you and learn more about your books?
I would encourage readers to drop by my website, where they will find fun PlayBuzz quizzes, teacher resources (which include a kindness challenge), the Sidhe Street Journal, a “contact the author” form (which is linked to my e-mail), and so much more. Links to my website and social media accounts are as follows:
Sidhe Street Team Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/808392542696771/