Author and fellow blogger Mary DeMuth is celebrating the September 15th release of her second novel, Wishing on Dandelions, and she’s embarking on a round-the-world blog tour. I’m thrilled to be hosting her second stop here at Mom 2 Mom Connection.
Mary is the mother of three, and she and her family live in France, where they’re part of a mission organization establishing a church. She visited us back in February here and here, sharing pictures of her family and home.
Mary, thanks for coming back to Mom 2 Mom Connection. You visited us a few months ago to tell us what it’s like to be a mom and writer in France. What’s new in your life now?
Our church is starting to come together here in France. We’re hoping to start weekly gatherings soon. And we’re looking forward to a huge service project in June, where we and volunteers from the States blitz Nice and the surrounding area with acts of service—social service kind of stuff. We’re excited about the possibility.
I was so moved by your first novel, Watching the Tree Limbs, as were many readers. Can you tell us briefly what that novel was about? How does Wishing on Dandelions continue Mara’s story? Can a reader pick up this novel if she hasn’t read your first one?
That novel was about an abandoned girl named Mara who was being sexually abused. Though the abuse is a small part of the novel, how she deals with it and how far God goes to reach her represents the bulk of the story. Mara is 17 in the second novel, so a little over 7 years have passed. Yes, you can pick up Wishing on Dandelions if you haven’t read the first book.
What made you choose East Texas as the setting for both novels?
The South fascinates me. I grew up in the Northwest. When my last child was born, my husband was transferred to East Texas to start a department in a hospital. Because I was a stay-at-home mom and home schooling, I didn’t have much else to do there except to observe small town southern culture. Because I didn’t grow up in that culture, my senses were heightened and I eventually began to really appreciate the differences.
In both of these novels, you tackle difficult issues that stem from your personal life. Is it hard writing about something that is so painfully close to you?
Initially, no. It’s easy. Because I’ve had similar issues, I can breathe emotion into characters who encountered some of the things I’ve encountered. But, after the final draft was done, it felt very, very hard. Like I was naked, sending my nakedness out into the world for all to see.
So, are you Maranatha?
In some ways yes, some no. Like Maranatha, I felt like God had transformed my life in such a radical way (like her name change from Mara—bitter—to Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus). Like Maranatha, I endured sexual abuse, but I was much younger when it happened. Like Maranatha, I wondered if I had been marked, that every sexual predator could “tell” I was a ready victim. I wrestled through relationships in my teens with Maranatha’s twin feelings of revulsion and attraction. But, she is not me in many other ways. She is more independent. She has no parents. She lives in an entirely different culture. She is less ambitious. She has the privilege of many wiser people to mentor her through life.
What do you hope readers will gain from Wishing on Dandelions?
An understanding that no matter what you’ve been through in life, God is all about redemption and healing and pulling you through.
Do you recommend any resources for parents who are also dealing with grief, regret, healing from abuse, or broken relationships in their families?
Well…there is my book Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook Press) that deals with all these issues. Others: Changes that Heal by Cloud and Townsend. Inside Out by Larry Crabb. The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender. There are more resources listed at my Pioneer Parenting blog.
Can you tell us about your personal blog? What’s up over there these days? What other blogs and websites are you active in?
Besides Pioneer Parenting, my main blog is Relevant Blog. There I post things about life in France, what God is teaching me, and pieces about the art and craft of writing. I post on The Master’s Artist blog on Tuesdays and the CAN (Christian Authors Network ) marketing blog on Fridays.
Who are your literary heroes?
I love Harper Lee. I only wish she’d written more. Leif Enger, who wrote Peace Like a River, greatly inspired me to write visually and artistically. I love Sue Monk Kid’s Secret Life of Bees, how you could almost taste her characters. I’m fascinated and intimidated by J.R.R. Tolkein—how he managed to create an entire world with several languages is way beyond my literary prowess.
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.
What one piece of advice would you offer women who long to heal from a broken past?
That being healed takes guts. I find most people are unwilling to walk through the excruciating process of healing, so they content themselves with living half-lived lives. They limp, though they don’t need to. Many of us become so accustomed to our pain that we nurture it. It becomes comfortable to us. Dare to break away from that and let Jesus shed light on the dark places of your past. Let Him bring His light. Let Him heal you.
Thanks for stopping by, Mary. Au revoir!
You can learn more about Mary and Patrick’s mission work in France on their new website, Crossroads International Christian Church, Cote d’Azur. It looks like a great place to worship!