Emily’s note: Two of my in-real-life friends also recently released their first book, a novel! I’m honored to share this space with them today so they can tell you a little more about their new book and why they were inspired to write it. I hope you will find some inspiration for your family as well!
Guest Post by Ila Woolet
I grew up torn between two worlds. Outside, there were bikes, frogs, trees and sunshine. Inside, there were video games, TVs, instant meals, and computers. In both worlds, there were lights: streetlights, screen lights, sunlight, and starlight.
While all the man-made lights were created to serve a noble purpose, they dimmed the most ancient and powerful lights in the evening sky.
I rarely noticed the stars in my youth. They were simply out-shined by the city at night. Even after moving to a darker sky on the outskirts of town, I couldn’t really point out any constellations, though I attempted to make almost any four stars into the most famous “big dipper.”
Looking back as an adult, I wish that I had relished more in the glory of the stars.
Since the beginning of humanity, the stars connected us all. They made us feel small, in a good way. These millions of tiny bright lights invited our imaginations to explore mythical creatures and the heroic stories of ages past.
They gave us hope that we could shine brightly and beautifully even when darkness consumed the world around us.
As a parent, I still have the electronics, gadgets, and the man-made lights, but I’ve learned to use them as tools and inspiration for returning my family to the natural nightlights. With stargazing apps and beautiful online celestial images to guide us, my family can now wander outdoors on a clear night and find many of our favorites like Orion, Cassiopeia, Scorpius, the Pleides, and Ursa Major—the bear who turns out to have the “big dipper” inside of him.
Our newfound love of these ancient lights inspired my husband and I to create new stories and a new world using the old constellations. The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister was born, our first novel in the World of Arcas series.
All of the creatures and characters in this world are connected to stars, constellations, or deep sky objects. We’ve shared the story with our kids, posted stars on their ceiling and love seeing their excitement when we haul the large telescope out on a clear night.
Now, when we gaze at the night sky, we don’t see just Orion the constellation; we see our friend The Hunter. He’s a strong and fearless man who is quick to protect others but also quick to protect his heart.
We see the great bear—Otava, as the Finnish call him—who is loyal, quirky, and a bit paranoid.
We see the Pleiades cluster and hear Merope’s enchanting song echoing, “Mira, Mira, one name for two; the river Eridanus a playground for you.” It’s a song about the constellation Cetus and the double star “Mira the Wonderful” that appears to ride upon his back.
Jackson, a teen from Earth, finds himself thrown into this ancient world connected to the ancient nightlights. It is a world that has excited my children and brought our family outside many nights to gaze at the stars.
Yes, it is easy to let the florescent bulbs and multimedia touch screens separate us from the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world. And it would sound romantic to pretend that we’ve trashed the artificial lights to sleep in a tent under the stars every night. Or perhaps we’ve even forsaken the modern world for an Amish, electric-free lifestyle.
But the truth is more practical for us, and I’m guessing more useful for you as well.
We’ve learned that technology can allow us to enjoy the stars in a whole new way. We can see images like the beautiful Horsehead Nebula (pictured above) located in Orion that never would have been possible to enjoy before.
My family may start our journey to the stars in front of screen lights, but we end it outside with heads tilted up and a sense of overwhelming awe below the natural lights.
Whether you use an app, a telescope, or a story as inspiration, I hope that your family will also wander outdoors to enjoy gazing once again at the glory and beauty of the night sky.
Most of us choose to accept the man-made lights in our world. But instead of allowing them to dim the organic world around us, let’s use them as tools to inspire our families back to the natural nightlights.
The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister by B.I. Woolet is available on paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com and as an eBook on the iBookstore and bn.com.
B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister. They enjoy creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature. They are happily married and live in Indiana in with their children. Benji manages a busy veterinary hospital, and Ila manages a busy home! This is the first book in the World of Arcas series.
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