H. A. Byrd

About

Mythical creatures attended Harriet Arden Byrd in her youth, fostering an active imagination which refuses to be suppressed by adulthood. Free from concerns about fashion, Harriet shows respect for cultural and literary tradition and for the lessons about tolerance which history provides us all.

As an author of magical journeys that adults can enjoy, in often humorous and sometimes visionary escape from reality, Harriet feeds the spirit and offers relatable magic.

For the first thirty-odd years of her life, Harriet experienced existential depression in the form of a deep frustration about the great mysteries: the purpose of existence, the nature of reality. Then she had children, a move which both amplified her sense of humor and taught her patience. She learned again to explore the world with wonder in her eyes. For better or worse, as time went by she claimed her place as a formidable female with strong opinions.

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Aru’s Realm

As she steps through the doorway into womanhood, Aru must leave behind everyone she’s ever known.

Now she must find her way in a world where others have control of her life. With the help—and hindrance—of the friends she makes, Aru unravels the secrets of a mysterious sorcerer’s interest in her and her strange abilities.

Will her courage and creative thinking be enough when this journey places the fate of multiple worlds in her hands? No. No it won’t. Although, maybe with the aid of a little magic…

But there is so much more to the tale than the plot alone! It’s a playful journey with details to observe and connections to make. A visually artful story, it is all about color, nuanced textures, and perspective.

Come, enter Aru’s Realm. We all need magic in our lives.


Watch for a sequel to this visionary fantasy novel!

An unusual form of epic or high fantasy, Aru’s Realm may also be considered gaslamp fantasy, absurdist fantasy, and coming of age fantasy. Built on strong female characters and written with gender sensitivity, this old-fashioned, classic style fantasy novel is set in a parallel-world Victorian era and in a peaceful universe.

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Mum 

Our mothers are a part of us. Like it or not, we carry much of who they are inside ourselves. But we are also a part of them. A piece of me that lived within my mother Barbara was lost when she left this world last week.

My pain comes not from losing a happy or kind mother, but from saying goodbye to my beautiful, proud, and hurting mother. There is no healing for the knots of string which will never be untwisted. The fragments of her and my relationship are now carved in stone. I’m thankful, though, that we parted with love in our hearts, a love which has always been.

Mum was fond of mustard and liverwurst, and cashew chicken. Also thin mints, mint chip ice cream, and grasshopper pie. She had quite a sweet tooth actually, but she was smart about nutrition and ever since starting her family in the 1950s she made an effort to serve us healthy food.

My mother enjoyed the symphony, the opera, and theater. She knew something of the history of visual art. She painted a forest scene on the dining room wall of our home. Beautiful and tasteful, it matched the chandelier with tole metal flowers and leaves that hung above the oak dining table she and Daddy had refinished. In the early 1960s she created elegant pottery in her ceramics class. Once when she found herself without a babysitter, Mum brought her three young girls to the studio. She taught us to make snails by rolling a coil of clay and then curling most of it up to form a spiral for the shell. The vase she built that evening, with our lumpy little snails encircling the bottom, sat by the fireplace for fifty or more years.

The ocean. My mother loved to be near it, but not on or in it. She found happiness among tidepools, poking at tiny crabs, pocketing interesting pebbles, and experiencing the sound of the waves. The Oregon coast was dear to her, as childhood memories of visiting the beach cabin of her “Auntie” Una. The mountains called to Mum also, with their geology and breathtaking scenery. She and Daddy hiked and cross-country skied. She was a birdwatcher, and she knew the names of the shrubs and wildflowers. Fond of animals of all kinds, she passed that love on to her children and grandchildren.

With a conviction that there is more to this world than meets the eye, Mum had an interest in transformative systems of thought. She wanted to understand the mystery of existence. Her curiosity about other cultures and their history led her to travel. She went on several elderhostel trips and spent some time in Sweden.

My mother cherished her time with her grandsons when they were young. She loved her family and also the greater community of the world. She cared about the environment. She donated both time and money to assist organizations working towards progressive political and environmental causes. It was her great joy to be here with us long enough to cast her vote in the November election.

A self-directed woman, my mother was apparently undaunted by gender boundaries of her era. When I was eight and my sisters were entering adolescence, Mum went back to school to get her masters in behavioral psychology. Our garage was full of cages containing rats. Rats ran mazes on our dinner table and pressed levers in a Skinner box. It was okay because all our family liked the rats. Exhausted in the evenings, Mum had me read her textbooks to her. I couldn’t understand a thing, but I could pronounce most of the words well enough that she could figure out what they were. Later we moved from California to Saskatoon, where she taught and did research at the university for a year.

When we all moved with my father to British Columbia, my mother was unhappy with the public schools there. She started the Fraser Valley Alternative School, enrolling the three of us daughters and a few other kids. The downstairs of our historic Victorian house was the campus. We kids developed critical thinking, learning community effort through a holistic educational program. Mum did a fantastic job with this school, which only ran for two years before we moved to the Seattle area. I’m thankful that throughout my life my parents encouraged me in all my artistic projects and in adventures big and small.

My mother had to cope with adversity in her life. She grew up during the Great Depression, the daughter of a principal and a schoolteacher. After college, she met and married my father, who was a good man (and handsome, to boot). Daddy, an electrical engineer, had a heart attack at thirty-five and was transferred to a job in a rural area. This had an enormous impact on the direction of both their lives. But more impactful than these sorts of setbacks, Mum had lost her little sister as a child, and later her own infant son. Both of these losses were devastating. Then, in 1982 my sister died at age twenty-four. Crista’s light meant so much to all our family that none could bear her passing.

Even with the heartbreak sustained by these losses my mother retained her sense of humor and her desire to leave this world a better place than she found it. I hope, wherever and however she exists now, she is able to see that she has done so.

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