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was a ghost.
She was somewhere outside of my current reality. Her long dark hair fell on her shoulders, her translucent body hovering like mist over a tombstone. Her white dress touched the overgrown vines on the ground. And something about her... there must have been a line of questioning on my forehead, for I am sure I frowned in this pursuit of a long lost memory as I stared at her. It did not take me long to recognize the face as my own.
I should have been shocked, but all I felt was sadness. And a hint of painful melancholy.
From where she stood, she could see me too: me, the part of herself that controlled this machine we call life. Me, the cynical, hardened, aggressive woman looking back at the ghost of all the beautiful things I no longer was.
This could be the first line of my latest book, but it's just my way of explaining to you why this shop exists. And maybe you can relate to my story even if you have never heard of me before.
I need a place to celebrate the female soul!
Taverna da Ilsa, or Ilsa's Tavern in Brazilian Portuguese, is a tavern in one of my stories. When I first started the shop, the book was leaning towards medieval fantasy. Well, I created that story when I was 16, and at that time I thought that all fantasy stories had to be set in a Tolkien world. The book was published in Brazil in 2014, and over time I have evolved into what I was meant to be in the first place: a restless soul, longing for beauty and passion. A longing to run barefoot on the hills by the sea, under a cloudy sky of clouds that move as if they, too, were running away.
Once I found out that I was much more of a Jane Eyre and Carmilla type of girl, I knew I had to change the book. Rewrite it. And I did. In 2023. But the shop was born in 2021. I was not happy with it, I must confess; epic fantasy is so wonderful, but sister, I thrive in gothic stories. And I rewrote the novel, which now has almost nothing of medieval fantasy and a lot of gothic. My protagonists no longer bond on the battlefield, they now fall in love during the nights they spend in a castle library, studying a very important and mystical book about creatures that may or may not exist, by candlelight and food.
The tavern itself, run by the charismatic Ilsa, has become not only a place to eat and drink, but also a café, because now, on the second floor, there are bookshelves where you can borrow books while enjoying your pastry and coffee. You can also sit and listen to one of the many actors of this very artistic city of Cillighan (based on Prague) read and perform stories for you.
A place that feels like home. True home.
So the original story that gave birth to this shop is now a story about a young woman who longs to find her soul and runs barefoot on hills under an overcast sky, following heavy clouds that also seem to be running away.
Phew! What a relief!
I feel like I am back on track, and when I read about Dark Academia, I knew I had to rebrand the store and follow this path and find the way back to myself. But well... I like mysteries and the supernatural, so I added a little gothic horror feeling here, if you don't mind.
The Tavern is a place to meet friends, eat, drink and talk about life, love, art and running away. It's about celebrating the restlessness, the darkness, and the power of being a woman. It's about honoring the divine feminine, one little treat at a time. So we can carry them around with us as a reminder of who we want to be when the world tries to crush us.
This is Taverna da Ilsa, and you are very welcome here. I hope you stay!
And I would like to welcome you here.
Hi, I am Ariane, better known as C. A. Saltoris, and I am the founder and creator of Taverna da Ilsa. I am a Gothic Fantasy author, published in Brazil and currently independent everywhere else. I was born in Rio de Janeiro and have been living in Germany for the last seventeen years.
I have been writing ever since the tender age of eight, when I wrote about a family tragedy, and since then I have been creating stories to process life. Not all of my stories are therapy sessions, but many of them are. My stories are tinged with tropical gothic, a reminder of my heritage, and I love it.
My first writing award was for a poem when I was twelve. I have been involved in amateur theater since I can remember, and when I came to Germany I became a professional actress and theater director, which influences my writing quite a bit. I am a mother, a wife and a hobby baker, a soon to be book publisher, professional reader and a lover of gothic stories. My first novel, Banshee: The Guardians, where you will find Ilsa's Tavern, was published in Brazil in 2014, when I was too young to know that the story didn't reflect who I was. You may ask, why would someone agree to be published with a work they don't really believe in? It's a simple question, from today's perspective: I was lost.
My twenties were hard for me. You see, I came to Germany very young, at the age of eighteen, and it took me about seven years to realize how crazy it was. At that age we are trying to find ourselves and coming to another country, another culture without knowing the language certainly made things harder for me. Things you don't see when you're eighteen... A few years later, after graduating and not knowing what to do with my life, I got depressed. I had been depressed since my freshman year, but I guess I was too stubborn to accept that I needed help, and things got worse. Especially because in trying to fit into the new culture, I completely forgot who I wanted to be, I forgot to nurture the parts of me that kept me strong. Or maybe I didn't know how else to do it.
I could have gone home, of course I could, but the damage had already been done and I did not feel like I belonged in Brazil or in Germany. By the time I was 25, I was in really bad shape and I asked myself what I could do to get back on track, and there was only one right answer. Two, actually. One was to go back to reading Gothic stories, something I had completely neglected, and the second was to write.
So I rewrote Banshee, a story I created when I was 16. When I did it, I had no intention of publishing it in any way: I did it to remember who I was. Writing is a matter of identity for me. But because I was on a path of trying new things, I sent the book to a publisher in Brazil and was surprised when I received an offer for a contract. Being the very practical person that I am, I accepted it. Despite the fact that I don't really write epic fantasy. I only kept the book as it was because I didn't want to betray my 16-year-old self, but I never felt at home in that world.
Fast forward nine years, I rewrote the book because I was under contract with a new publisher, and now the story is how it was always meant to be. Of course, I was forced to keep some of the medieval fantasy aspects because the story has readers who want to revisit the universe they love, but I managed to get rid of all the things that bothered me so much: battles, politics, queens and kings, high fantasy, and a few other details that were not at all my style. One of the things I really wanted to keep was Ilsa's Tavern. I cannot explain why, but I always felt like I knew that woman and how I would love to visit her establishment, so I made a store out of it.
I always wanted to have a store because I come from a family of merchants and grew up in my Portuguese grandfather's stores. I started in the business when I was about thirteen, you could say. When I decided that having my own store was a better deal than getting a job as a mother with no support system, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: create products for readers to make them happy. The rest of the story is above. It was a hit and miss until I found the right tone, just like my stories.
Now I am so happy and proud and I believe in the importance of awakening or reviving the female soul, with gothic stories of course!
If you are curious about my work as an author, I would be happy to welcome you to my website: www.casaltoris.com. There you will find my stories, two of which are already available in English. You can also open my drawer and read my free stories Blown in the Wind.
You can go there, grab a book and come back here, sit on one of our cozy couches and read, and of course.
I hope you enjoy this place. I created it with love for you, and if Ilsa were a real person, and in a way she is, she would say:
May the Goddess bless you in all your phases.
And so it is.