Saints, Sinners and A Whole Lot of Ham: The Miracle of Saint Myrtle by Donna Ison

Saint Myrtle

    Local author Donna Ison, frequently known by the sobriquet The Bourbonista, joined me for a look at her novel, The Miracle of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild, a frolicking, festival of fiction.*  In The Miracle of Myrtle, Ison posits that the Myrtle, aunt of Jesus Christ has found herself adrift in Purgatory and after two thousand years, would like to join the rest of the family in Heaven.  For some reason, in order to do so, Myrtle has been sent to rural Kentucky to accomplish several “good works” during the weekend of the annual Ham Happening in Steadfast, Kentucky.

     Donna answered some questions, gave me a great menu and perhaps the best playlist ever featured on daeandwrite!  I want to create this playlist just for everyday listening.  Thank you, Donna Ison.

Dae&Write:  Having read the Miracle of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild, I know you have a wacky sense of humor.  Where did you ever come up with the idea for this book?

Donna:  It was threefold.

First, everyone has an insane aunt, an Auntie Mame, that they adore. I personally had a crazy Aunt Maida. One day, I started wondering whether Jesus had an aunt, and the concept of Mother Mary having an evil twin became a hysterical premise to me.

Second, I love the festival culture of small towns and how seriously they take themselves. When someone visits from a big city, I always try to find a festival for us to attend, so I can see it through virgin eyes. It never disappoints. Plus, the backdrop offers up so many characters, sights, smells, sounds, and tastes.

Third, approaching forty, I was feeling the overwhelming pressure of not living up to my potential and really wanted to explore that topic.


Dae&Write:  In my book club, we always begin with this question:  what character did you most identify with?  I’m curious about your answer to this one.  Tancy, Miss Rosalind, Myrtle, Mary Sue Ann?  Someone else?  And why?

Donna:  Easy, Myrtle–because as hard as she tries to curb her Bohemian nature and stay on the straight and narrow, she always manages to veer off course and find the nearest trouble and closest bar.

Dae&Write:  Another favorite part of our book club is casting the movie version of the book. What famous movie star do you see as Myrtle and the other primary characters?  I know of your acting experience so what part will you play?

Donna:  I love this question!


Myrtle: Chelsea Handler or Leah Remini       THE KING OF QUEENS           chelsea

Tancy Sloane: Jennifer Lawrence or Kaley Cuoco

Beau Sloane: Matthew McConaughey (with about forty extra pounds).

Miss Rosalind: Melissa McCarthy

more melissa

Stevie de Panache: James Franco  (Dae&Write:  this cracks me up!)

Mary Sue Ann: Taylor Swift

Roy McGuire: Bradley Cooper

Janie Beth Barlow: Eden Sher

Alexis Monroe: Kirstie Alley

Crystal June Johnson: Kristin Chenoweth

As for me, I want to take the Stephen King route and just show up in a totally random scene as a bit player like “Woman Being Mauled By Chicken” or “Cotton Candy Stand Girl.”

Dae&Write:  What are you working on next?

Donna:  A little novel called Hemlock Holler. Hemlock Holler is not only the birthplace of country-punk superstar, Jezebel Jackson, but the most paranormal place on the planet. The Barbarian Queen, as Jezebel is known to her fans, is hanging up her electric fiddle and fur thong and retiring. But first, she is determined to throw one more successful Hootenanny in the Holler concert. In the process, she unleashes a battle between good and evil where the warriors include: old hippies and new-age punks; a psychic drag queen; a mermaid; an ex-extreme sports star; a trio of witches; and The Morality Maidens, a zealous, pro-celibacy group. Caught in the midst of the madness is Quinzie Prewitt, a former child prodigy turned young adult slacker. Against her better judgment, she agrees to ghostwrite Jezebel Jackson’s life story, which is punctuated by boozing, brawling, pills, promiscuity, and a sordid past that invites a supernatural nemesis bent on revenge. Once Quinzie discovers the truth about the Barbarian Queen, neither she nor anyone else is safe.

Dae&Write:  If a book club is reading Saint Myrtle, and wants to base a menu on the book, what would you suggest?

Donna:  Southern with a twist. Follow each course with a healthy shot of good Kentucky bourbon.


First Course:

Country Ham on Beaten Biscuits

Purgatory Eggs (Elevated Deviled Eggs) – Recipe Included.

Main Course:

Fried Chicken

Bacon-Cheese Grits

Collard Greens

Dessert Course:

Funnel Cake Bread Pudding with a Chocolate Bourbon Glaze.

Purgatory Eggs

12 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and halved.

1 ripe, avocado, seeded, peeled, diced, and smashed.

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. red onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

½ tsp. salt

2 splashes Red Hot sauce

1 squeeze of fresh lime juice

  • Boil eggs for 13 minutes, rinse in ice cold water.
  • Peel and split eggs.
  • Remove yolks and blend with all other ingredients.
  • Put a healthy dollop in each halved egg.
  • Try not slap your mama…cause it’s so good it will make you want to

Dae&Write:  What about a soundtrack for a book club? 

Donna:  Crank up the volume and put on this eclectic line-up.

Girl from Ipanema, Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz

Neutron Dance, The Pointer Sisters

Salzburg Symphony, Mozart

YMCA, The Village People

I Love to Hate You, Erasure

William Tell Overture, Rossini

Dirty Deeds, AC/DC

Jolene, Dolly Parton

Fox on the Run, Emerson & Waldron

Boogie Wonderland, Earth, Wind, and Fire

Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Baby, Barry White

Thank you Donna!  I can’t wait to try the recipes and that funny cake sounds too devilish to be anywhere near purgatory.   The book is available on Amazon:


*Style in homage of the Bourbonista.

Images from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail logo, More Magazine, vintage Country Life magazine


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