“The Soul Mender” by R.S. Dabney is the first book in a trilogy. Kirkus Reviews recently named it as one of the Best Debut Indie Novels of 2016. [Courtesy image]

The holidays have come and gone, and for many, it’s time to relax and curl up with a good book. This season, Back of Beyond Books is carrying something new and different, yet close to home.

Robyn S. Dabney was raised in Moab, and “grew up running around the red rocks and ravines in the deserts of southern Utah, building forts, fighting battles and living the lives of all the characters she and her friends created,” according to her biography.

On Friday, Dec. 30, R.S. Dabney returned to Moab as a successful young woman, for a book signing to celebrate the first two novels of her “Soul Mender” trilogy, which are now available at Back of Beyond, 83 N. Main St.

“Science fiction futuristic novels aren’t necessarily (the bookstore’s) forte, so I was a little concerned about turnout,” Back of Beyond Books owner Andy Nettell says. “But we had about 35 to 40 people here. It was so fun to see a lot of Moab folks who knew (Robyn) as a child come to support her 15 years later. It was a feel-good event.”

By Dabney’s count, publishers rejected her book 42 times before she finally found someone who believed in her story. That faith paid off late last month, when Kirkus Reviews named “The Soul Mender” as one of its Best Debut Indie Novels of 2016.

The books take place in a contemporary multidimensional Southwest that calls upon the main character to dive into her ancestral past.

Dabney describes “The Soul Mender” and “The Peace Keeper” as having something for everyone – “a sprinkle of suspense, a dash of adventure and a whole lot of good versus evil.”

The stories follow a young woman named Riley Dale, who is about to graduate from college. Dabney says the trilogy is most intended for young people heading out into the world on their own for the first time – either right out of high school or college.

“Based on my interactions with other people my age, and those at pivotal points of growth in their lives, I’ve learned that there are many who are frustrated and struggling with their own ideas about the world, religion and politics,” Dabney says. “Overall, this trilogy is about tolerance, empathy and the world being a solid shade of gray versus black and white. I think it will be something that those people can relate to, are searching for, and will want to read.”

Dabney moved from Moab to Austin, Texas, in 1999, the summer after her fifth-grade year. She graduated from high school in Austin in 2006.

According to her biography, Dabney has been always been an avid nature lover. She attended Texas A&M University, where she majored in wildlife ecology and conservation and minored in park and natural resource management. Dabney worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for three years before she pursued her dream of writing a novel.

“I really enjoy hiking and mountain biking,” she says. “Growing up in Moab really helped me fall in love with the outdoors, so it has always been important to me to be some place where I can spend time recreating and connecting with nature.”

Since Dabney’s parents Walt and Carey moved back to Moab several years ago, the young author says she finds herself in the area at least once a year.

“It’s hard to stay away,” she says.

Dabney currently lives in the Big Bend region of West Texas with her husband, two dogs and cat. When she isn’t writing, she is exploring the desert.

“Needless to say, I’m still celebrating the recent release of book two!” says Dabney, referring to “The Peace Keeper,” released on New Year’s Day. “But I’m hoping to have the third and final installment, still unnamed, available around (this) Christmas.”

Author with local ties celebrates release of first two novels in a trilogy

“It was so fun to see a lot of Moab folks who knew (Robyn) as a child come to support her 15 years later. It was a feel-good event.”

For more information, go to www.thesoulmendertrilogy.com, or find Dabney on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @rsdabneyauthor.