Ilie Ruby

Ilie Ruby is the author of The Salt God’s Daughter (September 2012) and the critically-acclaimed novel, The Language of Trees. Raised in Rochester, NY, she attended the University of Southern California’s Professional Writing Program, where she was fiction editor of The Southern California Anthology. She holds a masters degree in education from Simmons College, and specialized in documentary filmmaking at Emerson College. Awards include the Edwin L. Moses Prize for Fiction, a Kerr Foundation Scholarship, and the Phi Kappa Phi Award for Creative Fiction. Ruby is also a recipient of the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference Davidoff Scholarship and the Barbara Kemp Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship. Ruby is currently working on a sequel to The Language of Trees. Visit her website here.



Set in Southern California against a magical landscape, exotic folklore, and a world teeming with the spirits of sea lions comes a feminist folktale of mythic proportions about sisters Ruthie and Dolly, who survive in a virtually motherless world as they search for a home and for true love. Caught in the riptide of a culture that both glorifies and demonizes female sexuality, the girls refuse to accept the labels and the limits that are placed on them. Ruthie finds herself in the arms of a man who walks out of the sea, who is somehow different from other men. When she has a daughter who is born with a secret, she discovers just how far she'll go to protect herself and those she loves. Imbued with a traditional Scottish folktale and hints of Jewish mysticism, The Salt God's Daughter illuminates the tremulous bonds of maternal love, the lovely and often harsh realities of girlhood, and the mixed blessings of identity--a stunning, raw evolutionary tale.

It's luxuriant writing, thoughtful, pleasingly moody, rustled through with wind. Yet, no matter how surreal the story becomes, it offers real places, every day truth."—Beth Kephart, author of Small Damages

"When a blue moon rises, mistakes can be undone, lost children can find their homes, and sea lions can shed their skins. The selkie myth lies at the heart of Ruby's (The Language of Trees, 2010) second novel.... This is a bewitching tale of lives entangled in lushly layered fables of the moon and sea."—Kirkus Reviews

"Certainly other readers have had this experience: you discover a book that is thrilling in its truth about the world, a book that captures your imagination so completely that you actually feel scared by the thought you might have never held this book in your hands... The Salt God's Daughter is that kind of book."The Rumpus

“…a lyrical, luxuriantly mystical meditation on being female. The Salt God's Daughter is astonishing and unusual because selkies--mythical shape-shifting creatures who are human beings on land and seals in the water--are part of the story. In the otherworldly universe Ruby creates, the existence of selkies do not detract from the authenticity of the characters. Quite the opposite: the myth sharpens the characters' humanity… Ruby's novel comes as close as possible to achieving a deep understanding of the possibilities of being female.” —Leora Tanebaum, The Huffington Post

"Ruby’s second novel (after The Language of Trees) imbues the complex relationships between mothers and daughters with legends and feminist mysticism . . . Ruby’s writing is elegant and insightful...”—Publishers Weekly

"The book beautifully evokes scenes of two girls adrift in the late 70s and early 80s bohemian beach culture...the result is a breathtaking, fiercely feminine take on American magical realism. Ruby spins sweeping mythologies without straying far from the story of a young woman just trying to survive." Interview Magazine

"Lushly woven with elements of folklore, Ruby’s novel is a captivating inquiry into the generational, wayward bonds of mothers and daughters."Booklist

“This is a bewitching tale of lives entangled in lushly layered fables of the moon and sea.”Kirkus Reviews

“The characters and the setting hunger for each other …the ocean is everywhere, its saltiness fills the pages, lingers on the characters… Lovely in its complexity, Ruby has written in many layers. Yes, her book is mystical and fanciful, but at the same time it is intensely raw, and often unsettling.”Bookslut

Rights: Counterpoint, World English



Echo O’Connell knows that the summer holds its secrets. They are whispered in the rustling trees, in the lush scent of the lilacs, in the flurry of the mayflies batting against the screen door, and in the restless spirits that seem to clamor in the scant breezes on hot evenings. It is in summer that she returns home to Canandaigua, to confront these spirits, both living and not, and to share a secret with her first love, Grant Shongo—a secret that will forever change the lives of many people in the town and put to rest the mysterious disappearance of a little boy more than a decade earlier.

Grant, a descendant of the Seneca Indians who call this place “The Chosen Spot,” has also come back to face his past. After a broken marriage, he has moved into his childhood home, a lake house that has withstood happiness and tragedy. He knows the spirits of the past must be dealt with—that of the little boy who disappeared all those years ago; the boy’s sister, who never overcame the loss; and the love Grant still has for Echo. But before the healing must come the forgiveness.

The Language of Trees, like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass though in a magic realist vernacular, refreshingly asserts that deeply American conviction: the gravest natural instinct is to heal and be healed. A shimmeringly heartfelt story.”Gregory Maguire, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked 

“Crafted with suspenseful pacing and delicate imagery, Ilie Ruby’s book combines the qualities of an irresistible ghost story with a healing tale of redemption.”—Elizabeth Rosner, author of The Speed of Light

Rights: Avon, North America; Spring International, Taiwan