"From Ashes Into Light" by Gudrun Mouw has won 2016 International Book Awards in the categories of New Age Fiction and Visionary Fiction. "From Ashes Into Light" is Mouw's debut novel, although she has been writing and publishing poetry since the 1970s.
Mouw, a well-known yoga instructor in the Santa Ynez Valley, is a resident of Lompoc. She has been living and working in the Santa Barbara area for nearly 30 years.
Part of her book is set locally. Mouw writes about modern local landmarks and how they may have looked at the time of the conquistador invasion. Although she changed the name and details of the setting, it's not hard to see the commonalities with Santa Barbara.
Mouw gave a book reading sponsored by The Book Loft and the Solvang Library at the Los Olivos Grange on May 7. Her award came just two weeks later.
In her acknowledgments, Mouw thanks the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians for their gift of the Samala dictionary, which helped her craft a story with some cultural relevance.
Of the Native American characters, Mouw said, “While I was living in Painted Cave at the top of 154, I was lucky enough to be allowed in the cave after which the community is named (the cave is locked behind a fence). After sitting quietly in this spot, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this had been a very sacred place for the native Chumash for who knows how many thousands of years. That experience inspired my extensive research of the Chumash, especially what we know about their lives during the conquest; which is pretty awful if you get into the accounts. I know I’m probably still getting a lot of it wrong, that’s why I never name the tribe in my book. It’s not supposed to be an accurate rendition of events, but a fictionalized attempt at bringing that time in history to life.”
Mouw is working on a third collection of poetry and a nonfiction book titled “Yoga With Mom.”