Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Barbara Taylor Newman writes about her new novel, The Dreamcatcher Codes, out now from Green Writers Press.
If The Dreamcatcher Codes were a superhero, it would be The Fearless Girl on Wall Street, the bronze statue of a four foot powerhouse, hands on her hips going head- to-head with a charging bull. She’d say, “Piece of cake,” as she bit into a lavender infused pop tart, ordered by Mother Earth, hand delivered by Wild Oats.
If The Dreamcatcher Codes were a Goddess, it would be Kali the destroyer, sword in hand, slashing dragons, transforming darkness into light. She sings her song, “Outrage is Love Rising,” which is swiftly moving up the Billboard charts. But Kali is not a one-woman band, she reports into the Goddess Council, who borrow rifts from Brandi Carlyle and The Highwomen. They meet on Monday mornings in person, (they don’t do zoom,) in a conference room in the forest, after yoga nidra practice. Sadly, Aphrodite is missing, there’s not an ounce of romance in this book, although some would disagree. Loving the planet is a many splendored thing.
If The Dreamcatcher Codes were a candy, it would be Twizzlers. The strands of licorice are braided, like sweetgrass, like the sisterhood of girls who come together as one strong force to save the world.
If The Dreamcatcher Codes were a car, it would be a Mustang convertible, white not red. It would fly down the highway of ley lines, four girl passengers shrieking like Thelma & Louise. “Thelma and who?” they would say. Not a clue. Not their time zone. The Mustang chariot would connect the dots, leaving and following breadcrumbs, making maps, then parking itself on the runway at Shiprock, only to find that soon, a Tesla would be running it off the road.
If The Dreamcatcher Codes were an artist, it would be O’Keeffe, for her strokes of genius, the women, blooming. She would meet up with Hilma af Klint, the mystic painter who had a spiritual love affair with geometry and form. They would eat peanut butter and cactus flower jelly on sesame crackers and drink vanilla hemp milk and talk about paintbrushes and colors and the shape of life. They would start a salon around the campfire. Maybe make s’mores. I went to O’Keeffe’s home during the writing of this book, her ghost was everywhere, not a marshmallow in sight.
If The Dreamcatcher Codes were a bookshelf, it would be made of wood, from an already fallen tree that needed a second life. It would be sturdy, proud and polished, an altar for carefully curated words, sentences, paragraphs and pages, windows into history, ecology, geology, astronomy, symbols, and a particular cave in France. The shelf would have books about mystics and myths, birds, bees, turtle, eagle, coyote and bear. Stacks of works from Harjo Rilke and Ruiz, Momaday and Macy, CPE and CS Lewis. Books by Mary Oliver, Terry Tempest Williams, and Circe, Blood and Stone, The Cowgirl Way, and a galvanizing new YA eco fantasy called The Dreamcatcher Codes.
Barbara Newman always wanted to be a cowgirl. Growing up in New York didn’t stop her. She took that can-do spirit and became an award-winning global creative director, leaving an indelible mark on brand culture. After hearing an NPR story about the American cowgirl, she was so inspired, she left the ad world and found herself in Montana, Wyoming and Texas filming a documentary about their lives. An advocate for empowering girls, Barbara facilitates girls’ leadership programs, and was part of the think tank that inspired the Fred Rogers Center for Children’s Media and Education. Barbara lives in the Berkshires with her family and their English bulldog. Follow her on Twitter at @newman_writes.