Author explores cults, girlhood through fiction

The Poultney Public Library presented an evening with Cecilia Galante, author of two popular books, "The Patron Saint of Butterflies" and "Hershey Herself" June 30.

Galante read excerpts from the her first novel, "The Patron Saint of Butterflies". She focused on the scene when Nana Pete takes the children from the cult. Agnes, one of the main characters, speaks about the "regulation room" and the "kneeler" but does not mention the horror of the wall of various chains for punishment.

Born and raised in a religious cult in upstate New York in 1971 proved to be the inspiration for Galante's first novel-a fictional account of two 14-year old girls who escape from a cult.

Galante attended King's College, later married, then moved to Long Island, N.Y., and gave birth to her first child, Sarah.

"After one year, my baby and I had to seek help at a battered women's shelter," said Galante. "I met women there that changed my life-I went in as a girl and came out a woman."

This troubled experience gave life to the author's second novel, "Hershey Herself", the tale of a 13-year old girl who attempts to hide the fact from her school friends that she and her mother are living in a women's shelter.

Galante remarried to Paul Galante; the couple had two children, Sophia and Joseph. As a mother, Galante pursued graduate studies and received the M.F.A. degree from Goddard College in Plainfield.

Aside from writing, Galante also teaches high school English classes in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"People ask me why I still teach, but I do it because I love it," said Galante. "It has been rewarding. My students have become characters in some of my other stories, as well as certain family members have crept into them."

A highly disciplined author, Galante writes daily from 4-6:30 a.m. during her summer-long vacation. Fortunately, after numerous rejections and queries, Galante found herself an agent that wants to spend a career with her.

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