LSSU creative writing professor Mary McMyne’s debut novel has sold to Hachette Book Group in a two-book deal. The novel, The Book of Gothel, will be published in July 2022 by Hachette’s Redhook imprint in the United States and Orbit in the United Kingdom. The Book of Gothel is a speculative historical novel based on the premise that a manuscript found in a Black Forest cellar reveals the secret history of the Rapunzel folktale—as told by the witch.
For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, and Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, The Book of Gothel is a tale filled with witchcraft and magic, mysterious towers, dark woods, and evil princes, secrets and forgotten tales.
McMyne’s second novel, another historical reimagining, will be forthcoming from Hachette the following year.
“I started writing The Book of Gothel after I first moved to Sault Sainte Marie in 2011,” McMyne explains, “when I spent a lot of time exploring the deep dark woods of the Eastern Upper Peninsula.”
As a new professor at LSSU, she was raising a young daughter to whom she began reading fairy tales. She found herself wishing the tales included more active female characters.
“This novel attempts to correct the relative lack of active female characters in European folklore by inserting strong female characters into several folktales like Rapunzel, Snow White, Red Riding Hood,” she says. “I also imagined how women might have been involved in what is known of 12th century historical events.”
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, his wife, Beatrice of Burgundy, and St. Hildegard of Bingen all feature as characters.
In 2014, McMyne was awarded a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation to travel to Germany to research the novel. “I got to walk in my main character’s footsteps, visit city museums, and hike the Black Forest,” McMyne says.
McMyne will teach two creative writing classes in the spring: ENGL 223, Creative Writing II, and ENGL 301, Creative Prose Writing.