Guttenberg author completes novel

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Former Guttenberg resident Mary Mueller is the author of a new fantasy adventure book called The Secret of Berry House, available in hardcover, paperback and e-book. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

Imagine being five years old, and suddenly your mother disappears one evening after supper. She went upstairs to check on a strange noise in the house, and she never came back.

As if that isn't frightening enough, for the next five years of your young life, you are left in the care of a wicked old housekeeper and her nasty, troublemaking cat. During this time, your once-loving father slips into depression, losing himself in his work.

One day, you too disappear. You are pulled by a strange force through a crack that abruptly appears in the walls of your old house. This is where your true adventure begins.

Author Mary Mueller recently self-published this story of mystery, fantasy, and adventure as The Secret of Berry House. Mueller spent a decade developing an alternate realm filled with heroes, villains and creatures inspired by her own experiences. “I would say that a great deal of the characters are based on people that I’ve met through my life in different places. I was born in upstate New York and I’ve lived in every state in the Union, but I spent the longest period of time in Oregon,” said Mueller, who moved to Guttenberg after her Cedar Rapids home was flooded in 2008. Mueller and her husband recently moved back to Cedar Rapids, but still keep their home in Guttenberg.

The Secret of Berry House is a story for all ages, from seven to 70, says Mueller. A young girl finds herself on a journey to bring her mother back home, and along the way she makes new friends, learns and grows. 

“I basically had the story in my head. When I started writing I knew that the character was going to be successful, but I didn’t know how. Once I started writing, it just started dovetailing,” said Mueller. “It’s a charming type of book. You’re not going to get blood and guts, but there is action in it. Characters die. There’s enough little gore for oozing and goozing, but basically, it’s a family book.”

The author herself is interested in period drama as well as fantasies like Game of Thrones, The Golden Compass, and The Spiderwick Chronicles. “I always wanted to write a book,” she told The Press. “I’ve written short stories published here or there, and have written poems that have been published. For a while I wrote specialty greeting cards.” 

Mueller is also a talented crafter – knitting, crocheting, felting, and embroidering; growing and painting designer gourds, and making herbal sugars and teas, and the list goes on. She brightens the holidays for many by donating numerous hats and scarves to Senior Santa, a Guttenberg Press sponsored drive that accepts gifts for senior citizens in Guttenberg. 

Her skills and interests make her a sort of jack-of-all-trades. She travels to various events to sell her handmade goods; in the backyard of her Guttenberg home, she tended a certified butterfly garden. “I keep myself busy,” she chuckled, while crocheting a headband. “I teach myself.” 

Now that she’s retired, Mueller can keep herself busy any way she likes. “Right now I’m working on a fantasy book and a very serious book,” she told The Press. “I can write all day if I want.”

The Secret of Berry House is currently being rewritten as a screen play and could be placed in a library where film producers come to search for stories. On finishing the project after 10 years of work, she says, “It’s very funny – you work on it and work on it and you feel like you’ve given birth to something, but finally you get to the point where you can’t look at it anymore, you already know the story so deeply.”

Mueller self-published The Secret of Berry House through AuthorHouse earlier this year. It’s now available in hard cover, paperback, and e-book through, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.

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