By Emma Young
Belinda Miller, renowned creator of fictional fantastical worlds and a Manassas resident, also knows how to create fantastical events. The award-winning author is launching Reunion, the last installment of The Ragwort Chronicles, in a free, immersive event which includes viewing original art based on the series by Manassas-based Emily Thomson, along with aged vinegar, fresh olive oil, and dessert tastings, and a live Eurasian eagle owl.
Hosted at the Manassas Olive Oil Company on “First Friday,” Dec. 1, in Manassas, the event begins at 6:00 p. m. with the author herself available to sign copies of her The Ragwort Chronicles and Phillip’s Quest series. The books, written for elementary- and middle-school ages children and youth, describe a world where gnomes, dragons, wizards and other wondrous creatures find themselves on treacherous adventures which lead to revealing and important life lessons.
“It says a lot to the importance of friendship and priorities. Knowledge, friendship and love are the three goals, the three priorities,” said Miller.
Emily Thomson, who illustrated Reunion, found it easy to picture the universe Miller created. “It is fantastical, mysterious world with appealing characters and when reading the story, you can visualize everything that is happening. Belinda has a way of writing that brings the characters to life,” Thomson said.
The admiration is mutual. Said Miller of Thomson’s work, “I’m very happy with this book. It is the most beautiful book. It was wonderful to have a local artist. It is absolutely gorgeous.” Thomson’s artwork will be available at Reunion’s Launch event.
Perhaps the most unique event element is Mr. Hoots, a Eurasian eagle owl, reminiscent of SilverSnow, a forest seer and important character in The Ragwort Chronicles. Rodney Stotts, who was featured on NBC Nightly News with Lestor Holt in July for his work with challenged youth, is a falconer from Washington D.C. and Mr. Hoots’s handler. He will teach participants handling and feeding, as well as caring for and touching Mr. Hoots.
“It is a heart-warming story that people will gravitate to,” said Thomson. “Adults, any age, can enjoy it too,” she said.