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Dust and Mud, a novel by Sarah Mattern

Dust & Mud

a novel

As her past catches up with her, can the Girl Bomber become the hero she needs to be?

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Ellie Dray is the infamous Girl Bomber.

Four years ago, she destroyed a greenhouse complex at her northern California university, then risked her life to rescue a man on the scene at the time. 

Today, Ellie’s halfway through her prison sentence, and her family and friends have deserted her. Her twin brother Kyle is picking up the pieces of his own life that fell apart in college. Their father, the conservative governor of Nevada, is the president’s next pick for VP.

So why is her prison sentence suddenly commuted? And why is the man injured in her attack inviting her to his property to start a farm? And how on earth does she end up living there, befriended by a community of outsiders?

Ellie has a chance at love and redemption, but trouble’s brewing. (A corrupt agrochemical company, a continued FBI investigation, California’s strange weather patterns.) 

It’s time for Ellie Dray to come to terms with her past and stand up to protect the people and place she’s come to love. Who knows, along the way, she might just become the hero of her own story.

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About Sarah

Thanks for being curious about my world! I’m a designer by day, a bumbling backyard farmer on the weekends, and a lover of big-hearted stories. In a previous life, I studied environmental science and worked in environmental planning. I live in California with my husband Noel and our two big dogs, Ringo and Pilot.

I always wanted to write a novel, and Dust and Mud is my first attempt. It touches on many of my loves and fascinations: bars in the country, trailer parks, sibling relationships, farming and soil science, the beauty of northern California, how we create meaning and purpose in our lives, and how we can come together to heal ourselves and the planet.

If you’d like to connect, I’d love to hear from you! Sign up for occasional notes and doodles above, or contact me directly below.

Sarah Mattern


I made these messy multimedia drawings while writing Dust and Mud. I did it partly because I understand things best when I can sketch them out. And also because I’m very good at distracting myself! Maybe you recognize these people and scenes?

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