Ilie Ruby's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Ilie Ruby Why we love her: Her writing is beautiful and we can't wait to read her first novel, The Language of Trees.

Her latest: The Salt God's Daughter

The scoop on it: Set in Long Beach, California, beginning in the 1970s, The Salt God’s Daughter follows three generations of extraordinary women who share something unique—something magical and untamed that makes them unmistakably different from others. Theirs is a world teeming with ancestral stories, exotic folklore, inherited memory, and meteoric myths.

Meet Diana Gold, who raises her two daughters on the road, charting their course according to an imagined map of secrets drawn from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Meet her daughters—Ruthie and Dolly—who are raised in the back of their mother’s station wagon and then later in an old motel turned retirement home on the ocean, a place where the residents run with half-packed suitcases into the ocean at night, where lipstick kisses are left on handkerchiefs and buried in empty bottles, and where love comes in the most unlikely and mysterious of places—perhaps it even walks right out of the ocean in the form of a man.

Ruthie and Dolly are caught in the wilds of this enchanted landscape, fiercely protective of each other and unaware of how far they have drifted from traditional society. But when they are suddenly forced to strike out on their own, they are caught in the riptide of a culture that both demonizes and glorifies female sexuality. It is within this conflicted landscape that tragedy strikes. Years later, Ruthie’s daughter is born with a secret that will challenge her ties to the women in her family, and to the ocean.

Impeccably narrated in two powerful and distinctive voices, The Salt God’s Daughter puts a feminist spin on a traditional Scottish folktale about the selkies—a provocative, timeless story that explores our ability to transcend the limitations of a world that can be hostile to those who are different, and to find joy and belonging in our unmistakable humanness.

Watch the trailer here.

Our thoughts: We were captivated. It's a beautifully written, magical story that had our full attention until the very last page. PS: As former residents of Long Beach, we loved that the story was set there.

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll pick the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, September 10th.

Fun fact: She was once a fifth grade teacher.

Where you can read more about Ilie: Facebook, Twitter and her website.


1. You will find true love—even if you’re heavy. Stop thinking that you have to starve yourself in order to be loved. You will marry a great man who you met, incidentally, at your heaviest weight, which is, actually your normal weight. He will be tall and funny and charming. He will fall in love with your mind, soul, and yes, even your body—really. And he will make a mean French toast—which you’ll be able to eat and enjoy.

2. You are a good daughter. You are not responsible for your parents’ happiness. This doesn’t mean you are not a good daughter. It only means that you are living the life you are destined to live. Moving out of your house at 15 will save you. This separation will help you forgive them. You will enjoy your parents when you are older, in a new way.

3. Trust your intuition. You will recognize it as your inner pilot light. It is good and right — in time you will see the unexpected opportunities, and inspired decisions all came as a result of listening to your gut. It will lead you to your lifelong best friend, and to your first, second, and third books—all of which will feel like miracles.

4. Gossips are ageless and timeless. There will always be someone who doesn't like the color of your shoes, the length of your hair, or the story you have to tell. Barriers and labels don’t seem natural or right to you, which is why you cross them or shirk them. When you are a cheerleader and want to date a rocker, do it. When you are a punk rocker in a band, date the soccer player you like (he will become your first love). Get used to being judged. It will prepare you for life, both as a writer and as a mother.

5. The incident that you think ruined your life? It doesn’t. You will make peace with it through your art—through poetry, paintings and stories—this is your healing. This is your moving forward. This is your becoming. The fire becomes your creative spark, which is your greatest joy—in addition, of course to your three children.

Thanks, Ilie!


Liz & Lisa