Author Spotlight Featuring The Path Home's A.J. Pellegrino

Author Spotlight - A.J. Pellegrino

What do you want your readers to know about The Path Home?

A few years ago, The Path Home would have been a completely different story but I'm so glad that it's the story it is today. I love these characters. I love the paths that they're on and the mess they make along the way. I love the choices that they make, and even more so, that they make them for themselves.

What inspired you to write The Path Home?

The Path Home Cover

The short answer is a Hozier song. Without listening to NFWMB on repeat I don't know if I would have gotten Bryony and Iris where they are now. I was stuck. This story was stuck. It really was just letting my mind run wild to those lyrics that helped me break through that. The longer answer is a combination of a few things. The idea of familial love and how that feels even as you grow and learn to make your own decisions, especially if that contrasts with what your parents think or want. Also, not just queer love but queerness in general. Both Bryony and Iris go through this transformation that fulfills them and brings them closer together. I really wanted to touch on queerness not needing to fit into a nice, neat box to be acceptable.

With The Path Home being a retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth, can you tell us more about how you went about bringing the myth into a contemporary world?

I definitely hit some roadblocks here as I was writing. I wanted to tell this story without just retelling the myth we already know or being influenced by other retellings. I think for me it was about the connection to nature and really rooting both Bryony and Iris in that. The temptation of a new life and freedom comes from nature, the changing of the seasons is reflected in the death and healing of nature, the pomegranate seeds are reflected in the number of days both Bryony and Iris sleep in the heart of the forest. Then, of course, I also wanted to make sure this story focused on consent. There was never a version of this where Iris was kidnapped by the forest, or Bryony was kidnapped by Iris. They make their choices willingly, even as kids who wander further and further until they find the heart of the forest. They may be being pulled there, but they make the choice to follow, which I felt was important that Iris stressed to Dawn.

Are there any other favorite myths or folktales that you hope to explore in your writing?

Yes! I want to explore some different types of vampire lore in my writing as well as some Arthurian tales, though probably not in the same stories.

What's your favorite quote/moment from The Path Home?

I think that would probably be the confrontation between Iris and Dawn. Trying to write all the complexities of that relationship in one scene was really what made it the part of the story I was most intimidated to write. I really like the way it turned out, especially with intercutting it with Bryony and Mona's interrogation.

Top 5 books that everyone needs to read?

Oh man, I always have such a hard time with top 5s! I think those would probably be: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, and Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher which I really liked! It's a great, creepy, short retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher with a non-binary main character and lots of fungus. I'd definitely recommend it.

What are your reading goals for 2023?

I want to read more newer releases than I usually do and continue to read more stories from diverse authors. I have quite a few pre-orders on my list! I have a reading goal of 12 books for the year because I like to be realistic with what I can actually accomplish, but I do hope to read a few over that goal.

Anything else that you want our readers to know?

Just that I really appreciate everyone who's been interested in reading The Path Home. The fact that even one person might want to read this story, that even one person might like this story, makes me feel incredibly humbled.


The Path Home is available wherever books are sold


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