Novels

The Beekeeper's Daughter is a novel that explores the theme of women struggling with mental illness through the lens of the life of the American feminist poet and novelist Sylvia Plath. Stilling follows Plath's last months in London, England as she struggles to navigate single motherhood, the end of her abusive marriage to the poet Ted Hughes and her floundering writing career all while struggling to keep her head above water. The Beekeeper's Daughter also explores the lives of three other women in this braided narrative. Lorelei Bauer is a modern women struggling with a terrible loss as she comes to terms with the secrets she learns about her mother's past life. This novel also follows Esther Greenwood, the protagonist from Plath's The Bell Jar in a "found" manuscript that speaks to Lorelei. 

The Beekeeper's Daughter

ISBN-978-1949290196

Lorelei Bauer is a modern-day woman with a penchant for Sylvia Plath, the icon who struggled with the injustices against women in the fifties, her role and status as a poet, her job as a mother, and her mental illness. Lorelei’s own mother suffered from mental illness and when Lorelei learns of her mother’s breakdown and illegal abortion, she goes on a quest to better understand her as a parent. Lorelei soon discovers her life is paralleling Plath’s, and she panics about her fate. During her quest, she meets up with an old friend of her mother's, Joanne, who gives her a secret, unpublished manuscript that her college friend, Sylvia Plath, sent her before her death. It is a continuation of the story of Esther Greenwood, Plath's protagonist from The Bell Jar. Lorelei learns many secrets from the Plath manuscript which both hurt her and makes her hopeful for her own future.

 

 

Into the Fairy Forest is the first novel in the Chronicles of Pan series. Here we meet Philippa "Pippa" Gardener, a 15 year old girl who is whisked away to the Fairy Forest shortly after moving to Upstate New York from California after the death of her mother. Pippa meets satyrs and fairies, wood nymphs and fairy Queens including Queen Mab and The Lady of the Lake. The Chronicles of Pan uses Celtic mythology to explore parallel worlds and as Pippa becomes more and more attached to the Fairy World she not only learns that she is a part of it but that the boy she has fallen in love with is more magical than even the magical creatures in the Fairy Forest had once thought. This book and the entire series is published under the name JM Stephen. 

Into the Fairy Forest - Book One: The Chronicles of Pan

ISBN- 13 978-1941072585

Pippa is a typical teenager, if you don't consider her inability to operate a cell phone. But then a-typical things start to happen. First her mother dies in a mysterious fire, then a fire seems to come after her. After the ground tries to eat her friend, she runs right into the arms of the most beautiful boy she has ever seen, Pan ... Then things get really strange.

When Pan opens a whole new world up to Pippa, she finds herself attending fairy weddings, running with satyrs, and battling a mad centaur. She also learns there are many secrets being kept, some about her and her family, and worse, they are kept from her. But, all she really wants is to find her way back into Pan's embrace.

 

 

Nod is a stand alone Fantasy/Science Fiction novel published under the pen name JM Stephen. Nod uses the story of Cain and Abel to explore the world before time. Nod explores the people living in the town of Nod, the land east of Eden where Cain travels after he is marked. In this story Lailah, the daughter of the chief of Nod, explores the world around her. After "this who have walked with giants" "fell" Lailah and the rest of the people of Nod learn that they have always lived in Nod, as something called Time starts to affect them. The people of Nod learn about life and death, they learn about birth and hunting and then finally, grazing rights. This novel is ripe with symbolism and is written in the vein of novels like Clan of the Cavebear. 

Nod - forthcoming May, 2020
ISBN- currently no ISBN

“And so Cain was cast out and of Eden. He went west, to the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Nod is never mentioned again in the Bible. Where is it? What are the people like? Whatever became of Cain? Now we have the story of the people of Nod, as told through the eyes of Lailah, the woman who would eventually become Cain’s wife. The story of Cain and Able is brought alive and the aftermath examined in a way never before told. But more than that we get the story of a primitive people examining the world around them.

 

 

Betwixt and Between explores many aspects of loss. It looks at what it means to wholly and completely love someone by imagining the ultimate loss of them. This story explores what it means to long for childhood, our childhood, or the young childhood of growing children we know, while also understanding what it means to grow up, let go and move on.

Betwixt and Between

ISBN-13 978-1935439844

Betwixt and Between is told through three separate but intersecting stories that all deal with the death of a child in some way. There is the story of Claire, a modern mother living in the real world whose son, Preston, has just been killed. It follows her as she mourns and tries to remember him, as friends reach out to her and in her greif she ever starts speaking to another killer of children who is in jail. All the while Claire is surrounded by the events connected to her son’s murder investigation. There is Preston, Claire’s son, in Neverland, where he is also dealing with the fact that he’s dead. Preston meets an enigmatic and somewhat tragic Peter Pan, who befriends him, becoming closer to Preston than he is to most of the other Lost Boys, as he teaches Preston about the mysteries of Neverland. In Neverland there are fairies and mermaids, Indians and of course pirates. I wanted to use these familiar tropes from the story to explore what it means to lose a child and so all these figures are people who have died who are somehow connected to the loss of a child. The mermaids, for example, are mother’s who have died in childbirth, the pirates are child abusers and other bad guys, who are sectioned off away from the bulk of Neverland in a dark place that is a kind of punishment for them. Peter tells Preston never to go there, but of course he does, and things happen there as well. There is also the story of Mrs. Darling, living in Victorian London, where her neighbor is the author J.M. Barrie, as she waits for her daughter Winifred to wake up from a coma. While Mrs. Darling is waiting for her daughter to wake up, Winifred is in Neverland, just visiting. There, she meets Peter Pan, who changes her name to Wendy and falls in love with her. It is through his falling in love with Wendy and then losing her, that causes Peter to grow up, making him the sadder, more enigmatic figure Preston meets a century later.

 

 

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© 2020 by Jessica Stilling.