Here I have an interview with the amazing Mary Lowry! I have had the privilege to be able to e-mail her and get to know her and after talking a while we decide to do an interview to you guys as well what an amazing author and to get you guys excite for her book " THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE"that is coming out later this month! February 27! Look for my review that day or shortly after (depending on how school is going... usually it makes me fall behind on my reading)
I ope you guys enjoy the interview as much as I did!
Me: As a writer I am always interested to find out how other authors make up characters, are they a little like you or do you try to make them as opposite of you as possible? What is your process to making them become real?
Mary: I think my protagonists are always a little bit like I am. They are always fun adventurous girls trying to navigate through the world.
I don’t have a process to make them become real. I just show up at the page and type and they seem to form themselves.
Me:Are any parts of ‘THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE’ based off of your life or anybody close to you such as friends and family? Where do you get your ideas from?
Mary:THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE isn’t based on my family at all, but bits and pieces of the novel come from real life experiences. For instance: there’s a part where the main character ANGEL walks down a road through the rain forest in Mexico alone. Well, once when I was traveling through Costa Rica, I walked a long way at night through the rainforest. I could feel the rainforest dripping and pulsing around me—It seemed so alive.
ANGEL travels through Mexico by bus; and once I took a bus from my hometown of AUSTIN down to Central Mexico—so that’s an experience I’ve had.
I’ve also spent a lot of time in and around Big Bend National Park in the desert of West Texas where some of the book takes place. Plenty of times I’ve paid a Mexican man a dollar to row me across the Rio Grande to Mexico and I’ve always been fascinated with the crossing. All that goes into the book as well.
I didn’t plot the novel at all. I just sat down and channeled it, if that makes sense. My job was to show up at the keyboard every morning and let the novel come through me. Writer Anne Lamott says when she drafts a novel she almost goes into a trance and lets the words pour out of her. Then she goes back with her rationale mind and edits it and “cleans it up.” That’s how I feel about my writing process as well.
Me:When you first e-mailed me what really grabbed my attention was all the things you have done with your life, firefighter, open water lifeguard, screenwriter, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. You have been very busy! What made you decided you wanted to be a lifeguard, screenwriter, advocate and firefighter?
Mary:I’ll try to go in the order I did each of those jobs:
1. I was a lifeguard at a giant spring fed pool called Barton Springs in Austin, TX. I first worked there when I was 14 years old and I worked there in college as well. Barton Springs was my favorite place on earth—it’s just a heaven of cool water in the middle of a hot Austin summer. So it was natural for me to want to work there.
2. As soon as I graduated college at 21, I was hired onto an elite, Type 1 Hotshot Crew of forest firefighters. My roommate’s sister had been on a Hotshot Crew and seeing photos of her standing in front of a wall of flames, or lounging casually on the ground in the woods with a bunch of burly firefighter guys blew my mind. It looked like such an adventure and I wanted to try it. It also sounded more fun to travel all over the country hiking and camping than to get a “real” job.
3. Becoming a screenwriter actually came from being a forest firefighter. I wrote a novel called THE GODS OF FIRE about being on a Hotshot crew. When the novel didn’t sell to a publishing company, I flew out to Hollywood and convinced a major producer to option the book for film. He asked me to write the screenplay, so I did. There is now a director attached to the project and the script should go out to actors soon! I hope to release the book in 2013.
4. I worked for 8 years in the movement to end violence against women. The first advocate job I got was in a domestic violence shelter in Durango, Colorado. I had been working construction and was waking up really early to write THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE before framing houses and building fences outside all day. I was really tired all the time and really cold and wished I had more time to write.
I heard that advocates at the local domestic violence shelter lived in the shelter for 3 days a week and then had 4 days a week completely off of work. I knew I would love the job because I am a feminist and wanted a chance to support women who were going through a difficult transition. And I also knew the job would give me 4 whole days a week to write, which it did.
After that I worked on the National Domestic Violence Hotline and did work lobbying the Texas Legislature for funding for domestic violence shelters.
I’ve always been a big fan of trying out different jobs that support me financially and shelter my writing.
Me:You even ran away from home and made it all the way to Mexico at 15?! What did you do in your time in Mexico and is any of your book based off your time there?
Mary: When I ran away from home at 15, I was mostly busy feeling nervous and liberated. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Actually, THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE isn’t based on the time I ran away to Matamoros. I drew more material for the book from the time I took the bus from Austin to the Mexican state of Oaxaca when I was 22 or so.
Me: Do you still have that very first manuscript you ever wrote and at the time you thought it was gold, and now you look at it and smile? In a small paragraph can you tell us what it was about? Have you let anybody else read it or does it stay hidden away in your closet?
Mary: The very first manuscript I wrote was the first draft of my still unpublished novel about being a forest firefighter. I still have it in a drawer, but I never look at it. But I did revise the book for YEARS and now the final version is in great shape and hopefully will be published in the next year or two.
Me:When you were writing ‘THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE’ what message were you hoping to get out to your readers?
Mary:I was hoping that the book would inspire women and girls to have adventures, live life fully, and not feel stymied by limitations imposed on women because of gender.
Me:How long does it normally take you to hammer out a book, without doing the painful task of doing edits or anything?
Mary:It takes me two to three years to draft a novel. Then the editing starts!
Me:Do you prefer to write a novel or do you prefer to edit it after you’re done (I know I prefer the edits after I’ve written one..
I don’t have to worry about what to write next just what I missed!)
Mary:I’m exactly like you! I’d much rather edit a novel than write a first draft. That first draft is hard and scary. Once the draft is on the page, then I can focus on making it better!
Me:What is the part that just makes you want to pull all your hair out after you have paced your house for the thousandth time and screamed at the top of your lungs until you’ve lost your voice?
Mary: For me the WORST part of writing novels is sending it off to agents and editors. That is so scary and nerve-wracking. Writing the novels is such an intense, intimate experience. It’s hard to send my work off to be “judged.”
Me: Ok, I’ve been very good about this so far but I just can’t hold myself back anymore! And I’m sure our readers will want to know, can we get a sneak peek into this amazing book of yours?! Pretty please with… a cherry on top (or whatever you want if you don’t like cherries).
Mary: Sure thing! Here’s the synopsis of the book:
The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.
Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.
Me:Is there anything you would like to say to your readers or possible readers?
Mary: THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is a book about a young girl who takes incredible risks and has a big adventure. I hope readers will give it a try. It’s not your usual love story, but in its own way it’s a book about passion.
Thank you all for reading the interview! Again, "THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE" will be out for you to buy Febuary 27!