My feminist speculative fiction novel Kingdom of Women (ISBN 978-1-937543-42-6), about a female Roman Catholic priest, was published in 2017 by Jaded Ibis Press. Available in bookstores (Indiebound will direct you to local stores) or at the usual online venues (Amazon, B&N, etc.).
Named 2017 Book of the Year by the online Catholic-ish community Sick Pilgrim
Reviews: Kirkus, U.S. Catholic, OZY, VIDA Review, Foreword Reviews, Women in Theology, Necessary Fiction, American Book Review, Small Press Picks, Fordham Magazine, Feminism and Religion, Read Her Like an Open Book, Latina Book Club, Start with a Story
Lists: 16 Puerto Rican Women and Non-Binary Writers Telling New Stories (Electric Lit); 13 Books By & About Women That You Might Have Missed In 2017 — But Shouldn’t (Bustle); Latinx Books for the Next 100 Days & Beyond (Queen Mob’s Teahouse); 2017 Catholic-ish Gift Guide (Sick Pilgrim); Holiday Book Guide – 10 Books by Diverse Women Writers (Start with a Story)
Readings: “Resistance Knows No Borders” conference (Albany); Duende District “In Cultural Conversation” series, cosponsored by PEN/Faulkner (Washington, DC); New York State Writers Institute (Albany)
Excerpts: The Nervous Breakdown
Praise for Kingdom of Women
“Kearns writes in a precise prose…, delivering sharp images and observant barbs…. The novel’s daring critique of today’s patriarchy never feels didactic or forced.… A bold, politically minded tale with a spiritual soul.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Kearns’s thought-provoking, dynamic novel explores violence against women alongside themes of mysticism, revenge, and the unusual alliances that shape history.”—Foreword Reviews
“The novel covers a lifetime of geopolitical and moral conflict, grounded in vivid and compelling characters.”—Necessary Fiction
“Kingdom of Women is a must-read, a stunning, unforgettable novel that perfectly replicates, and interrogates, our cultural climate.”—Katharine Coldiron, in VIDA Review
“A deeply felt and richly imagined rendering of what the upending of patriarchy might look like . . . and what the unleashing of centuries of women’s suppressed anger might wreak in the world.”—U.S. Catholic
“Spy-thriller tropes keep Kingdom of Women moving at a lively clip … and there’s plenty of passionate this-is-so-wrong-but-don’t-stop sex. The characters are keenly drawn and empathetic, despite their flaws, so it may be easy to miss the extent to which this is a novel of ideas. It is what the grandest of speculative fictions are: a comprehensive, compelling, epic thought experiment. Here Morales Kearns engages not only the Woman Question, but also the great questions of humanity: Who are we at our most desperate? How far will we go for love and justice? Can the ends ever justify the means? And ultimately, what is the purpose of our lives and sacrifices?”— Minal Hajratwala, “Loved The Power? Here’s What You Should Read Next,” in OZY
“A beautiful and terrifying realism.”—American Book Review
“A suspenseful, provocative, and captivating debut novel.”—Latina Book Club
“Kearns’s masterful work taps the deepest secret fears, hopes, and desires of the Catholic women I know, but her ghost monks, tarot cards, and descriptions of survival in post-apocalyptic America … capture an even broader cultural moment, answering #me too with ‘what if?’”—Sick Pilgrim
“Kingdom of Women reminds us that . . . one’s faith is a powerful force for resistance and, rather crucially, spiritual and existential healing.”—Women in Theology
“An absolute joy to read . . . [with] important and well rooted theological and spiritual insights.”—Feminism and Religion
“A rewarding, if also slightly demanding novelistic experience, not only for feminist women but for all thinking people. The prose style, suiting itself to the voice and the context, is at times taut and smart and at times liltingly lyrical. The language maintains a balance between lofty literariness and conversational panache…. Against the backdrop of the global #MeToo movement, … Kingdom of Women feels like a speculative comment—equal parts utopia and dystopia—on our times.”—Suparna Banerjee, Read Her Like an Open Book
“Kingdom of Women is a brilliant, moving novel that delves deep into questions of revenge and compassion, justice and mercy. Can we build a just society based on acts of violence? Rosalie Morales Kearns writes with a deftness and warmth towards her characters. This is a novel full of inventiveness—a must read.” — Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted and The Child Finder
“A raw, fierce, … and provocatively sexy and smart take on women rising up in armed conflict against male violence…. This a war story with magical touches that never forgets the tragedies—and pleasures, whether they be carnal desire or the ‘holiness of running water’—that no human can escape.”—Katherine Vaz, author of Mariana, Our Lady of the Artichokes, and The Love Life of an Assistant Animator
“The conflicts that have given rise to the world of Erda are all too familiar: the corrosiveness of patriarchy in personal lives and political regimes.… Not a fixed vision, rather Erda is a utopia in formation struggling to keep reimagining a future.” — Frances Bartkowski, author of Feminist Utopias and co-editor of Feminist Theory: A Reader
In a slightly alternate near-future, women are forming vigilante groups to wreak vengeance on violent men. Averil Parnell, a female Roman Catholic priest, faces a dilemma: per the Golden Rule she should advise forgiveness, but as the lone survivor of an infamous massacre of women seminarians, she understands the women’s anger.
She becomes embroiled in an affair with a handsome young sociopath and a friendship with a female assassin, and the three of them gradually form a dysfunctional triangle of attraction and repulsion, love and obsession. At the same time, Averil is beset by unwanted religious visions: she sees the souls of dead monks, converses with Jesus, slips into alternate realities.
She had wanted to be a scholar, before the trauma of the massacre. Later, all she wanted was a quiet life as a parish priest. But now she finds that she has become a mystic, and a central figure in the social upheaval that’s gathering momentum all over the world.
Kingdom of Women spans decades and delves into multiple points of view, not only highlighting the personal evolution of a complex, troubled individual but also exploring larger themes like the ethical implications of the use of violence against oppression, and the tension between justice and mercy, revenge and forgiveness.
Rosalie Morales Kearns, a writer of Puerto Rican and Pennsylvania Dutch descent, is the founder of the feminist publishing house Shade Mountain Press. She’s the author of the novel Kingdom of Women (Jaded Ibis Press, 2017) and the magic-realist story collection Virgins & Tricksters (Aqueous, 2012), described by Marge Piercy as “succinct, smart tales rooted in a female-centered spirituality.” Kearns is also the editor of the short story anthology The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women (Shade Mountain Press, 2015), praised by Kirkus Reviews as a “vital contribution to contemporary literature.”
A product of Catholic schooling from kindergarten through college, Kearns has a B.A. in theology from Fordham University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois. She is a freelance copyeditor specializing in scholarly book manuscripts for academic presses. She has also taught creative writing at the University of Illinois, the State University of New York at Albany, and adult education venues.
She lives in Albany, New York, with her partner, the political scientist Pedro Cabán, and three black cats, Morgan, Viviane, and Godiva.