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Catherine Adel West Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Saving Ruby King (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Catherine Adel West is a literary fiction author from Illinois. She was born and raised in the city and went to the University of Illinois, Urbana from where she graduated with her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Journalism. She is best known for her debut novel “Saving Ruby King” that she published in 2020. Among her literary heroes include James Baldwin, Oscar Wilde, Nikki Giovanni, and Octavia Butler. Her work has been featured in Lunch Ticket, Black Box, The Helix Magazine, 805 Lit + Art, Five2One, Doors Ajar, and Better than Starbucks. For the most part, she writes during her free time since she is a full-time editor. Since she has to edit other people’s works, she thinks about her work and words all the time and has developed an intuition for what techniques work best and for which audiences. Her overall goal while writing and editing have often been to make her audience tap into their emotions whether it be to make them cry or want to laugh. While she has written a novel, she has recently been blogging and entering short story competitions, which explain the many journals that have published her works. While she is yet to go professional, she still harbors dreams of becoming a successful writer in screenwriting and literary fiction.

It took her five years from the time she started writing her manuscript to the time she had completed the rough draft of her debut “Saving Ruby King.” Catherine initially intended to write a short story but when she attended an old classmate’s wedding someone suggested she make it into a novel. She had no experience whatsoever though she had a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism and figured that it would not be so hard to pen a novel. How wrong she was. Adel started writing “Saving Ruby King” as a hobby but it was not long before it became a passion project and not long after she was obsessed with it. Once she had finished writing the final draft, the hard part came as she had to query tens of agents and submit more than ten revisions before she could get published. When she started, she had no idea what she was doing but luckily, she had many friends that were also authors who helped her in her queries after helping in the editing of her manuscript. Kevin Savoie, one of her best friends was very helpful as he assisted her to navigate the minefield of R&R and agents and held her hand when she was discouraged. After participating in a contest for marginalized authors in 2018 named #DVPit, she got an offer from an independent press and soon after hired Ladderbird Literary’s Beth Marshea as a rep. After several edits, her novel was finally bought by HarperCollins/Park Row and was published in 2020. It was quite the journey for Catherine Adel West and she has had to deal with astounding lows and high though she is grateful for the journey she has had from writing to publication.

Catherine Adel West’s “Saving Ruby King” is a keenly observant ambitious debut work. The novel follows the lives of two friends from South Side Chicago that grew up in a cycle of violence that has been going on for generations. When Alice who is mother to Ruby King is murdered, Ruby is left all alone without anyone to protect her. Luckily, Layla Potter one of her best friends steps in and tries to fill in the role somewhat. West tells the story of the two girls and the neighborhood they live in showing the connections between the present and how they are impacted by events from the sixties. It was in the sixties where Lebanon who is Ruby’s father had been abused since he was born from his mother being raped by her father. The trauma from his childhood had stayed with him for years but as he had his own family it had reappeared as he in turn abused his children. In his teens, Lebanon had been witness to one of his best friends killing another boy in the neighborhood only for him to be framed for the killing. He had been jailed on a charge of manslaughter and when he was released five years later, he had gone after his friend Jackson. He is now a pastor at an evangelical church in town and does not want his past deeds to become known to his congregation. As Layla asserts her determination to rescue Ruby from Lebanon’s self-harm and rage following the murder of Alice, she is particularly worried when she dreams of three matriarchs’ asking her to do something. The climax comes with a confrontation in the Tennessee home of Ruby’s grandmother.

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