Meet some of the four-footed characters in the Hillwilla trilogy and ​Decanted Truths 

For more insights into the Hillwilla series, please click on "Video" in the top right navigation panel. That will take you to a 30-minute interview with Eka Kapiotis of the Front Royal (VA) Women's Resource Center.

The storytelling gene is part of Irish DNA. I was lucky to have some great storytellers in my parents' and grandparents' generation. Decanted Truths, twenty years in the making, was inspired by their anecdotes -- hilarious and heart-wrenching alike. No, this sprawling (dysfunctional) family saga is NOT biographical, but it does explore what it meant to be an Irish immigrant in the hostile atmosphere that was 19th century Boston and what aspirations drove Irish-Americans well into the 20th century.

For the fictional Harrigan and Gavagan families, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston. For twice-orphaned, US-born Leah Gavagan, who comes of age during the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that wreak havoc on her daily life -- and sometimes come true. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping  the generation before her, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan Gold Rush, the Spanish-American War, and the Great War. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. At the center of her new truth is an antique Waterford decanter, an artifact she has mysteriously dreamed about since early childhood. The decanter links three Irish-American families chasing after the American Dream in very different ways. It serves as the bridge between the culture left behind in Ireland and the ethnic identity being forged in the New World.

Some comments from Amazon readers: 

"sure-footed novelistic debut"

"pure poetry"

"wicked sense of humor"

"a rollicking good ride of a telling"

"the characters were fascinating, and, most importantly:  real"

"if you've ever felt out of place..., found yourself living ... out of your comfort zone, this book is for you"

My Hillwilla series offers a quirky take on contemporary Appalachia -- as "come-heres" clash with "born heres." The books offer unique insights into the southern highlands, with both warts and glories on display. At the heart of the stories is Beatrice Desmond, a northern urban transplant with a complicated history. Her life becomes more complicated when she fosters a troubled local girl and begins sparring with another "come-here," a man whose backstory is even darker than Beatrice's.

Readers may identify with the flawed, but endearing protagonists, while encountering other characters they'll love to hate. If you treasure the Great Outdoors and have a soft spot for critters, you won't want to miss these Back to the Land novels.

Melanie Forde, ​author