ABOUT THE BOOK:
Through the boarding house window, Julia overhears an argument between Rose and her wealthy father over Rose's illegitimate pregnancy. He drops Rose off, saying he will return in one year, that she must be either single and childless or respectably married. Though from completely different backgrounds, Julia and Rose become fast friends, facing lessons of survival and redemption as their fates become irrevocably entwined.
Patty Dickson Pieczka's second book, Painting the Egret's Echo,, won the Library of Poetry Book Award from Bitter Oleander Press. Other books are Lacing through Time, and Word Paintings.
Winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Contest, the I SPS contest, and the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, she's contributed to over fifty journals and graduated from Southern Illinois University's creative writing program.
CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH CLARICE D'ARBONNIER, 1904
SB: Miss D'Arbonnier, my name is Simon Bunch, and I'm with the World's Fair Newsletter, which will appear in the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. You've been developing quite a reputation as a fortuneteller here at the fair, so I'll begin by asking how you first discovered your "abilities."
CD: The blood moon reached down and stole my man. He stopped breathing right there in my arms with those evil red handprints around his neck. Ever since then, I hear his voice. He tells me things through the wind in the leaves.
SB: You expect our readers to believe. . .
CD: I know where your grandpa hid that cashbox.
SB: What? How could you know anything about that?
CD: I send my shadow out into the night, and it brings back secrets. The river whispers into my ear, and the spirits visit my dreams.
SB: But surely you must know how this sounds to our readers.
CD: Let it sound like anything you want. I know what I know.
SB: Where's the cashbox?
CD: Aren't you supposed to be asking about my work?
SB: Alright, let's get back on track. Are you from the St. Louis area?
CD: No. I'm from New Orleans. But I'm thinking of staying on here when the fair is over this winter. Nothing is as it seems here. People need my help.
SB: When you say, "nothing is as it seems?" Do you refer to the city government?
CD: If I am, I wouldn't tell you.
SB: Fair enough, I suppose. Do you consider these "talents" to be more of a blessing or a curse?
CD: If you don't stop wiggling your fingers at me, they might catch fire.
SB: Answer the question, please, Miss D'Arbonnier.
CD: Once the ghosts came into my life, it's hard to get any peace. They have no manners — don't care whether I'm trying to sleep or if I'm in the middle of changing my dress. But they keep me from evil and tell me what I need to know. Mostly, it's a gift.
SB: Does this "gift" extend to yourself as well as other people? Did you know your "friend" was in trouble?
CD: I warned you about those fingers. But you're right, the vision is clearer at a distance. I'm a lot like all the others. I don't want to know what my heart tells me. Truth is the brightest light, and sometimes it blinds us to look at it.
SB: Many people are skeptical about your line of work. Some go as far as to say you're a fake.
CD: Say that again, and I'll turn you into a crawdad. . . . Oh, and look under the clothesline pole in your backyard.
SB: Really? Oh yes, yes I will! Thank you, Miss D'Arbonnier, you've been most informative.