New Short Story Collection Invites Readers To Find Solace & Healing Through Dreams

What does it mean to reconnect with ourselves and tap into our dreams? Where does healing come from if not from within, and from our own creativity? In MariJo Moore’s new book ’11 Conjured Stories’, the prolific Cherokee/Irish/Dutch author and poet has assembled a collection of short stories and poems that draw on her Native Heritage and the culture of tapping into our dreams as a form of healing.

The stories range from the sharing of how she receives stories from spirits to an enlightened Nana speaking out for young women of the earth. This collection offers a fresh perspective to rethinking our inner selves and the world in which we dwell, through the venue of creativity. The “Comments” section shares results of the author asking 11 various people to each give a personal quote on a particular story as an abstract way of learning that humans are interconnected, even if not always in obvious ways. The cover art titled “A Dream I Thought I Had Forgotten-Something Was Eating The Moon” is also by the author. Oh and no big deal, but this is her 27th book!

“Moore’s newest book calls us to the global Story-fire of healing and possibilities where ancestor spirits and dreams are a norm, not a forgotten and suspicious fringe experience often scoffed at by modern folks,” writes Stephanie A. Sellers, Ph.D., Native American Studies educator Gettysburg College, PA, in a press release about ’11 Conjured Stories’.

Stephanie also goes on to say that MariJo’s collection is a great lens through which to analyze the most pressing issues of our time, including climate change and reproductive justice.

We had the chance to speak with the author about this new collection, how it has been received by readers since its release in September, and how Roe v Wade being overturned impacted the conversations she has with her granddaughters through the stories and poems she writes.

Author and poet MariJo Moore

First of all, congrats on the release of your 27th book! What made you want to put together this collection of 11 short stories?

The last few books I have edited and published were anthologies of Indigenous writers, artists, activists. Although I enjoy helping others who have a right to be heard, it feels good to be back in my own writing.  It was time. I don’t believe in writer’s block – only incubation. I also used my own art on the cover. The piece is titled “A Dream I Thought I Had Forgotten-Something Was Eating The Moon.”

I am at the age now where I no longer feel obligated to explain, argue about, or apologize for what I am and what I am not, things for which I have at times been criticized. I speak only for myself from living an expanding, episodic life. I am who I am and so very grateful for my life and the creativity that still finds an outlet through me, and for those who choose to read my books, buy my art, and appreciate my spiritual guidance. This new book makes all of this certain.

Can you tell us about your background and heritage you drew from as inspiration for these stories?

I was sixteen years old when my first poem was published in The Commercial Appeal, a newspaper in Memphis. TN. The poem, titled “Souvenir” was about the Vietnam War. The year was 1969 and I was in the eleventh grade.  I have been writing ever since. I was blessed to have a high school English teacher who recognized my writing ability and encouraged me, and an English professor in college who did the same. The most meaningful advice I have ever received was from a Cherokee elder.

When she complimented me on taking the path of being a writer, I complained about how hard it could be. To which she replied, “MariJo, life is hard anyway, so you might as well do what you love.” A few of these 11 stories deal with Indigenous issues, but others deal with autism, the importance of paying attention to dreams and some are modern-day parables representing that everything has a spirit. I also have Irish blood, and one of the stories “Long Ago Ancestor And Her Unborn Baby” gives homage to my Irish ancestry.

Something to ponder: For any of us to be here today descended from 12 generations, we needed a total of 4,094 ancestors over the past 400 years. Amazing information a friend recently shared with me.

Art and creativity have become ways for us to make sense of the world, and give us a voice. What kind of messages do you hope ’11 Conjured Stories’ will resonate with readers? 

These 11 short stories offer an opportunity for existential journey reading – to experience matters in a way that might not be available to some in their daily lives, thus adding a new perspective on ideas that they have never deeply pondered, or maybe have forgotten. An opportunity to journey into a deep reality that sometimes people miss due to structured reasoning, political mind sets, organized religion, culture, lack of knowledge, misunderstanding the importance of all people, etc.

Basically we are all interconnected through our spirits, and the spirits of everything in this universe. Creativity helps me to understand not only the way I think, but just as importantly, the way I feel. I write because I am fated to do so. I create art because I must. All to feed, as well as heal, my ages-old soul. As one reader commented, “MariJo Moore (in these stories) has given each of us back a piece of ourselves that we didn’t even know was lost. Bravo.” This made my heart sing.

Since you have written so many books and built up an audience along the way, what has been the most surprising or eye-opening feedback you’ve received from readers? 

The most inspiring feedback has come several times over the years in the form of others telling me how they were made to rethink what they had been taught concerning Indigenous peoples. And the feedback from the writers who were given the first publishing opportunity in one of my anthologies. 11 Conjured Stories (which I published though my little minority press) has created response from parents of autistic children, people who have had to deal with abuse, and some that just want to tell me how much the stories inspire them in a mystical way.  As one reader stated,    

“Moore’s newest book  11 Conjured Stories calls us to the global Story-fire of healing and possibilities where ancestor spirits and dreams are a norm, not a forgotten and suspicious fringe experience often scoffed at by modern folks. No matter who our Ancestors are, we all come from people, no matter how long ago, who honored dreamers, shamans, and conjurers.” The most wonderful feedback was when my oldest grand gal told me this was one of her favorite books.

One of your stories is written from the perspective of “an enlightened Nana speaking out for young women of the earth.” Can you tell us more about this and how it relates to what we are seeing today politically, socially and globally? 

“This Earth Is Tilting-An Enlightened Nana Speaks,” which is dedicated to my oldest grand gal, (I have three) is a story that is  touching the lives of many – especially young women and mothers and grandmothers. It was inspired from a Tree of Life necklace my grand gal gifted  me. I have had long talks with my grand gals about being a female in today’s society, especially since Roe V Wade was overturned. I have encouraged them, as well as all females I know to vote, to speak out, to make their own decisions.

I honestly believe the time has come for females to step up and not be subjected to the whims of those – male and female – who want to keep them pushed down, so to speak. I took a different approach to comments in this collection and asked eleven different people (both male and female) to each read one of the stories and give feedback, which are included in the book. The response I received from a mother of a new born female concerning “This Earth is Tilting-An Enlightened Nana Speaks” brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. 

As someone of Native American descent, can you share more about how storytelling and creativity is an important part of your community and heritage? 

I consider storytelling and creativity an integral part of everyone’s heritage. Stories, art, any form of creativity –  offer a way to truly get to know a nation of people, and to understand the similarities as well as learn to respect the differences.  I am Irish, Dutch and Cherokee, so I feel grateful to have creativity from all three of these in my spirit. I dedicated the book as follows:

To the absolute, undeniable knowing that creativity (in any form) is experiencing life with inexplicable, mysterious wonderment. 

What was your favorite story to write in this collection, and why did it resonate with you so much?

I really love all of these short stories – each is different but offers a genuine message – sometimes overt, sometimes covert. All are rhythmically structured, intertwined with subtle, yet hopefully lingering thought tunes. I am a seer/medium (inherited from both Indigenous and Irish/Dutch ancestors) and I explain in the first story titled “Stories From Spirits,” how I write; how stories are given to me.

If you could use one word, or a few words to describe what you hope readers will feel after reading ’11 Conjured Stories’, what would they be? 

It is my hope readers will feel their souls and spirits Inspired to tell their own stories, use their own creativity,  and understand we all have a place in this world. We are all, after all, our own muses.

Please note this book can be ordered worldwide by clicking HERE. And by purchasing a copy, you are supporting an independently owned, minority publishing company, Renegade Planets Publishing.

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