My life in comics

His 11-year-old daughter is living with him full time now. “I didn’t know,” he says. “I just didn’t know. She thinks her life should be a comic book. And I agree with her, it should, but, you know, it isn’t.”

No. It isn’t. Although sometimes we feel the POW! And sometimes we have our mask on but someone recognizes us anyway. And that moment when we realize that we aren’t invulnerable –that moment is devastating. Well, shit. That fucking hurt. My spleen. Dear god, my spleen.

I have one long image of happiness. The room has dark wooden floors, and a white bed with an ornate metal frame. There are two sets of French doors and they are open, billowing white curtains into the room in a tangle. And a girl is walking across the room. Wrapped in a sheet with her legs bare. She never gets to the bed. She never leaves the room. She’s always in the act of walking. Her hair blown forward, her hair blown back. The sheet exposing a shoulder. She is unrecognizable. She’s a stand-in for no one and everything. She’s the way I picture love.

Of course, there’s a soundtrack for the image. The opening moments of Caught a Lite Sneeze by Tori Amos. I can’t explain any of it. I can’t explain where the image came from or why it’s so resilient. I can’t explain why I lift at my center whenever I think of it. It’s ridiculous. It’s a music video. My romantic touchstone is a music video: it lasts 8 seconds and loops decade after decade. I don’t remember a time before I saw like this.

Why shouldn’t she live in a comic book? The characters there have been human and flawed and brave and egalitarian since the beginning. They’ve been struggling to reconcile goodness and power.

I think that girl is me. I think she’s a myth I wrote. A character to reside in a bright, simple room that opens onto a garden. And she’s always in the act of moving through that room. She is bare but not yet vulnerable. She’s a template.

 

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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