Let's not waste another moment! Interview time. YAY!!!
1.) You are a very busy woman! What drives you towards your ambitions? Anything in particular?
I have two major ambitions in life (other than staying healthy and trying to be of service others). Those ambitions are to have adventures myself and write books with strong, complicated female protagonists. Those goals have taken me from river rafting through the rainforests of Costa Rica, to writing screenplays for Hollywood producers. I also want to inspire other women and girls to make art and experience life fully.
2.) With everything that you have already accomplished, what do you look forward to doing next?
After I’m done promoting THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE, I want to work towards releasing my other novel THE GODS OF FIRE, which is based on my experiences as a forest firefighter. That novel has been optioned for film and is currently in pre-production.
3.) What inspired you to write The Earthquake Machine?
When I was 15 years old I ran away from my home in Austin, TX and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. That made me think about what it would’ve been like to go deeper into the interior of Mexico. So Rhonda, the main character of THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE travels all the way to the Mexican state of Oaxaca, all the while pretending to be a Mexican boy named Angel. I’ve also always been interested in the fact that traveling to remote locations is generally safer for boys than girls.
4.) How did you come up with the title?
The title refers to both a real life earthquake and a machine that Rhonda/Angel comes across on her adventures that literally rocks her world. I hoped for the title to have a double meaning; I was inspired by the title of Thomas Pynchon’s novel GRAVITY’S RAINBOW.
5.) How important do you feel it is to encourage young people that they
can do anything that they want if they set their minds to it?
I think this is particularly important for young women. I think people often don’t realize that there are still MANY careers that are male-dominated. I’ve worked as both a forest firefighter AND as a Hollywood screenwriter. Only 15% of forest firefighters and Hollywood screenwriters are women. Those are daunting statistics. So while it’s important to tell young women and girls they can do anything, it’s even more important to provide ongoing encouragement and support to them. I would not have kept writing if I hadn’t had amazing mentors; I would’ve gotten too discouraged along the way.
6.) What advice would you give young teens struggling with neglectful parents?
I would encourage young teens with neglectful parents to seek support and guidance from other sources. My theory is that though many teens may NOT find the love and mentorship that they need from their parents, they can seek to find it from other people such as teachers, siblings, aunts, uncles and friends’ parents. There’s no point in going to neglectful parents over and over for support those parents can’t or won’t provide. You can’t go to a dry well and expect to get water. But I feel there’s ultimately enough love and guidance in the world for everyone, even if some of it comes from unlikely places.
7.) How can we encourage others who are in need?
The first act of love is to listen. I think Paul Tilloch said that and I think it’s very true. There is incredible power in just showing up for someone and bearing witness. I worked for years as an advocate on the National Domestic Violence Hotline and over and over survivors of abuse told me that just being listened to, believed, and encouraged made a huge difference for them. We often can’t fix our loved ones’ problems, but we can offer tremendous emotional support.
The Earthquake Machine
The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.
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.
Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15, she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.
A huge THANK YOU, to Mary for being here today! You can purchase THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE at Amazon.