All Over the Map with Mary DeMuth
Erin: This book deals with difficult subject matter: childhood sexual abuse and its residual affects. How did this book emerge?
Mary: My passion is to write about redemption through the avenue of story. I started the first book, Watching the Tree Limbs, in a flurry. In my mind I saw the streets of Burl and a girl who didn’t know where she came from. Because my personal story involves different instances of sexual abuse, I wanted to write a story that showed the reader how God could intersect an abuse-victim’s life and make a difference.
Childhood sexual abuse is not talked about very often, and seldom covered in novels.
What made you decide to write about it? For that very reason. The more victims are quiet, the less healing they will receive. The more we talk about it, bringing heinous acts to the light, the better able we are to know we are not alone. I wrote this book so other abuse victims would feel validated and heard. And to offer hope.
Reading the introduction to Wishing on Dandelions- just a few short paragraphs- I was moved to tears. Mara's attempt to own her broken childhood and the damage done upon her spirit just pierced me. Can you comment on the "push-pull" in all of us to embrace the pain inflicted by a fallen world while still yearning for complete healing?
It’s a strange dichotomy. We long for complete emotional healing, but we keep butting up against pain, so that we always need more healing. God made us that way so we’d long for Him. And we’d long for that Place where there will no longer be any mourning. Heaven will be so much more heaven because of that.
One image from your first novel, Watching the Tree Limbs, has stuck with me. Aunt Elma's drawer full of moldy can lids. For such a minor, quirky detail, the symbolism it carries throughout the story is amazing. Were you thinking anything in particular when you penned that section, or am I just reading into it? (And if you weren't conciously trying to hit me between the eyes, let me just say that in my book, the moldy can lids are right up there with Frodo's ring in the "symbols-with-ooomph" category. Well done!)
That actually came from a story that circulated around my extended family. It struck me then, years ago, so when I wrote about Aunt Elma, the image popped back into my mind. Caked can lids might not be as evil as the one true ring, though. :)
You've also written a couple of non-fiction books on parenting. Which is your preference to write, fiction or non-fiction? Why? I prefer fiction. When I write nonfiction, I tell a lot of stories; therefore I consider myself primarily a storyteller. If I write nonfiction, the subject has to grab me. I have to have tons of passion for it to be able to sustain me through the writing. With fiction, the simple act of seeing a story in my head and writing it on the page, is life-giving—creativity at its utmost.
As a Christ-follower in France, what has been a struggle for you? What has been a particular blessing about your situation? Where do you feel God leading you next, personally, as you minister in France?Struggle: adjusting to a completely and utterly different life and dealing with my longing for home. Blessing: the pace of life in France is so much slower than the US. I love that people aren’t running around with their heads cut off here, that they value a long, enjoyable meal, and that family time is sacred. Leading: I’m not sure. We don’t know how long we’ll be here in France; it’s pretty open-ended. In terms of my ministry with writing, I sense God is continuing to expand that.
What other creative ventures besides writing do you undertake to unwind, interact with God, refuel, ponder life, and engage the world? I run. I know that doesn’t seem creative, but many of my creative thoughts come out when I’m running. I also read. And I create little pieces of art (like SoulPerSuit). I try to spend time in nature, as that is where I tend to refuel.
I know you enjoy cooking. Is there anything you cook that your family thinks rivals the famed cuisine of France?
Ha ha! Well, my daughter Julia really-really loves my tortilla soup. (link: http://www.relevantprose.com/Recipes/tortillasouprecipe.pdf) And since that’s so different than French cuisine, I’d say she thinks it’s better than French food. The cool thing is that my French friends say I make very good bread! It took me YEARS to learn how to make bread, so this was a really cool compliment.
Next time you see the sights of France, what museum or monument are you going to visit? And can I come too?Yes, of course you can come. I’d like to see Normandy. I’ve never been there and heard it’s quite moving. And I’d love to revisit the French Alps. Wow.
What do you want your reader to take away from Wishing on Dandelions? That redemption of a broken life takes time. We’re all on a journey of healing. Sometimes it’s slow going, but if we can endure through the dark times, God will bring us to new places of growth. I want the images and characters to stay with a reader for a long time.
Thanks, Mary for visiting with me. I'll pack up my art supplies and be on the next plane- ready for some tortilla soup with you and the gang. And hey, Normandy...Alps... I'm easy!
Click here If you'd like to take a gander at the first chapter of Wishing On Dandelions.