Madelon Phillips’ “Twig” is the story of an eighteen-year-old girl’s third marriage. Mattie Collins grew up in a family enveloped by poverty, sorrow and bitterness, and under the rule of a father who continually said, “I wish to hell you kids were grown and married.” The future of this spirited young lady appeared to be set at a young age by her father’s need to “break her spirit.”
”Sit down, open up “Twig” and call in food so you can keep reading Madelon Phillips’ debut novel until the very last page. That’s what I did, and I’ll never forget Mattie Collins, her wit and her spirit. Mattie is snappy, intelligent, full of heart, and her perspective on life kept a big smile on my face. In “Twig” Madelon Phillips deftly creates the story of Mattie’s life and peoples it with characters that breathe.”
–Tina Welling, Cowboys Never Cry
“Madelon Phillips’ “Twig” is an astounding feat of storytelling. Just as Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are not only gripping stories, but emblematic of their times, so it is with “Twig”. It is the story of Mattie Collins, who comes of age in the fifties, a woman of her time and place, brought up by her father to think of herself as worthless. She marries to escape the war zone of her parents’ home and enters into a struggle to find her self-worth and freedom from the mental prison built by her father, then completed by her husband. It’s a heartwarming story of personal triumph. “Twig” is one you won’t soon forget.”
–James N. Frey, How to Write a Damned Good Novel
The Pearls of Snake Hollow
Merle Pearl’s three daughters have come back to Snake Hollow to give their murdered father a proper burial. To some in Snake Hollow Merle Pearl was the devil Himself, to others the voice of the Lord. Emboldened by the desire to prove their Papa was on the side of righteousness, each women uses her individual and as yet untapped strength to reveal the lies, hatred, and evil underneath the holier than thou derision heaped on them by the members of Preacher Peesley’s congregation. With one foot in reality and the other out, the power of good overcomes evil in this serious and humorous story of the survival of Merle Pearl’s daughters, and the reclamation of their Papa’s good name. Madelon Phillips’ storytelling and development of character is such that Ed, Preacher Peesley, Martha, Bernice, Zola, and Papa himself will remain in your head long after you’ve finished the novel.
The novel is complete at 253 pages and 60,000 words.
Comments from other writers include the following:
“The Pearls of Snake Hollow is a delight. Madelon Phillips has caught the images of backwoods American existence and brought them to us shimmering in the half-light of wry humor, pathos, and a gentle humanity. The story is a mystery underlined with the unnerving fervor of religious fanaticism and the otherworldly conviction of three young sisters that if they stick by each other, they can find justice and defeat evil. It is metaphor and legend, reminiscent of the writing of Sharyn McCrumb at her best.”
–J. L. Bautista, author of Fiestas (2007) and The Road, and Nothing More (Oct 2012)
“The Pearls of Snake Hollow is a delicious blend of allegory and summer beach reading. The story is set against the backdrop of the Ozarks, 1952, a world of church suppers, hand-churned ice cream, pickup trucks, and hound dogs dozing on the front porch, where a girl might be described as “powerful pretty” or “no bigger’n a minute.” Phillips captures the charms of rural life with textured detail and memorable dialect; at the same time, she doesn’t shy from the psychological underbelly of small towns: the gossip and betrayal and superstition. Phillips maintains many delicate balances: her story is playful, even as it wrestles with dark human impulses; her tone is light-hearted, while evil feels like a weighty presence; the time period details are meticulous and realistic. She grips the reader with her original voice and her mastery of plot and suspense. A rollicking read!”
–Tarn Wilson, author of “Slow Farm”
“What in tarnation has Madelon Phillips written? A tale chock full of varmints and vermin, moonshine and murder, churchfolk and Satan, and many fingers apointin’ to one another. I don’t reckon you’ll be able to put it down, even as neighbors come callin’ with fresh apple pie amid a bushel of similes.”
–Alison Owings, author of Hey, Waitress (2004) and Indian Voices (2011)