The Poultney Public Library presented an evening with Cecilia Galante, author of two popular books, "The Patron Saint of Butterflies" and "Hershey Herself" June 30.
Galante read excerpts from the her first novel, "The Patron Saint of Butterflies". She focused on the scene when Nana Pete takes the children from the cult. Agnes, one of the main characters, speaks about the "regulation room" and the "kneeler" but does not mention the horror of the wall of various chains for punishment.
Born and raised in a religious cult in upstate New York in 1971 proved to be the inspiration for Galante's first novel-a fictional account of two 14-year old girls who escape from a cult.
Galante attended King's College, later married, then moved to Long Island, N.Y., and gave birth to her first child, Sarah.
"After one year, my baby and I had to seek help at a battered women's shelter," said Galante. "I met women there that changed my life-I went in as a girl and came out a woman."
This troubled experience gave life to the author's second novel, "Hershey Herself", the tale of a 13-year old girl who attempts to hide the fact from her school friends that she and her mother are living in a women's shelter.
Galante remarried to Paul Galante; the couple had two children, Sophia and Joseph. As a mother, Galante pursued graduate studies and received the M.F.A. degree from Goddard College in Plainfield.
Aside from writing, Galante also teaches high school English classes in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
"People ask me why I still teach, but I do it because I love it," said Galante. "It has been rewarding. My students have become characters in some of my other stories, as well as certain family members have crept into them."
A highly disciplined author, Galante writes daily from 4-6:30 a.m. during her summer-long vacation. Fortunately, after numerous rejections and queries, Galante found herself an agent that wants to spend a career with her.
Publisher Simon & Schuster will release Galante's third book, titled "Willowood", this winter. This novel concerns a girl named Lily Sinclair who befriends a man who has Down Syndrome and discovers a secret about him that will change both of their lives forever.
Galante's fourth book, "The Sweetness of Salt", is tentatively scheduled for release in the summer of 2010, and its setting is in Poultney and East Poultney. It is about two sisters who have been estranged from one another. A bombshell announcement results in the younger sister returning to Poultney where she spends the summer helping her sister fix up an old bakery, as well as mending the broken pieces of their past.
"The bakery is what used to be the Poultney Inn," said Galante.
"I decided to write about Poultney because I absolutely love the town. I consider Poultney to be a character in 'The Sweetness of Salt' because the beauty of the town is one of the things that helps brings these two girls back together. They share many meals at Perry's and meet the people at the 'table of knowledge'-those that know everything about the town."
Galante's popularity is spreading not only into the curriculum in schools in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, but is also gaining acclaim in getting her books on audio, in movies, and has sold foreign rights to her first two books.
Advice for aspiring writers from Galante: "Don't take no for an answer. Keep reading, writing, and go for your passion. Also, it's important to have a good agent to get you into big houses."
To learn more about Galante's work, visit her website at www.ceciliagalante.com.