I recently had the pleasure of reviewing The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry.
The Earthquake Machine is a moving coming of age story about a young girl who is struggling to find her place in the world and come to terms with her blossoming womanhood. It was an absolutely fantastic story and I am honored to be able to offer a free copy to my readers as a giveaway!
If you are interested in the giveaway it run through
4/13/12 to 4/20/12
Mary also agreed to do an interview with me as well, so without further ado please welcome Mary Pauline Lowry to The Lit Bitch!
The Lit Bitch: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read The Earthquake Machine?
- Mary: You should read The Earthquake Machine because it’s a very literary adventure story about a young girl who has a sexual (and spiritual) coming-of-age.
The Lit Bitch: What was the inspiration behind The Earthquake Machine?
- Mary: The Earthquake Machine is inspired by my own brand of aggressive and intellectual feminism. Also, living in Texas I’ve always been acutely aware of the fact that many Mexicans immigrate to Texas for a chance to have more economic opportunities, or to send money home to support their families. I wanted to write a story about an American girl who goes to Mexico to seek adventure and a more stable and healthy family life.
The Lit Bitch: Who was the hardest character for you to identify with or hardest scene for you to write in The Earthquake Machine?
- Mary: The hardest character for me to identify with was Rhonda’s father, who emotionally abuses her mother and keeps her mother hooked on prescription drugs. The hardest scene to write was Rhonda’s mother’s suicide.
The Lit Bitch: How much time did you devote to researching your novel? What do you love most about the Hispanic culture that you wanted to really come through and shine in your book?
- Mary: I didn’t do any “research” for the novel, per se, but I did have lots of adventures traveling in Mexico that gave me the background and ability to write about an American girl seeing Mexico and experiencing the Mexican culture for the first time. I wanted to convey Mexicans’ unique take on death. I had a professor once in Mexico who said, “Mexicans have no concept of the future and therefore can laugh at death.”
The Lit Bitch: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp or come away thinking about? Was it gender roles? Culture? Faith? A combination of all?
- Mary: I want readers to understand that it’s possible to defy expectations imposed on use because of our gender. It’s amazing the limitations created by gender. I’ve worked as both a Hollywood screenwriter and a forest firefighter– two professions that are both 90% male and only 10% female. And I want women to know we can do things that women still aren’t “allowed” to do. In a similar vein, I want women to understand that we can take what works for us from patriarchal religion and create ideas about faith and spirituality that make sense to us.
The Lit Bitch: I really like how you addressed the gender issues and how culture often influences gender roles. I think the Las Verduras group was a great tool to illustrate this concept, which Las Verduras bandit do you identify with most?
- Mary: Las Verduras are a band of female bandits who dress up like men when they commit their crimes so that they will be taken seriously as robbers. Each of Las Verduras is nicknamed after the vegetable that she resembles most. The bitchy, prickly one is named after a cactus, the one who cries a lot is named after an onion, the maternal, nurturing one is named after a gourd, etc. I’m not prickly OR maternal; but I do cry a lot so I guess I’m most like Cebolla.
The Lit Bitch: I know you changed the cover design for The Earthquake Machine to appeal to a wider audience, how has that been working out for you? Any feedback so far?
- Mary: So far most readers seem to really love the new cover and quite a few book bloggers told me they want to read the book now that it has a more contemporary “YA-looking” cover. It was pretty amazing to have award winning author/cover designer Suza Scalora (The Fairies) create a cover for the novel.
The Lit Bitch: What are your plans for your next project? What are you currently working on?
- Mary: I’m finishing up the screenplay adaptation of my novel The Gods of Fire, based on my experiences as a forest firefighter. The novel hasn’t been published yet, but there is already a director attached to the project, and the script should be going out for casting in the next week or two! Right now I’m working on finding a home for the novel
The Lit Bitch: Who is your literary inspiration?
- Mary: E. Annie Proulx, whose first novel was published when she was 58.
The Lit Bitch: Do you like to write any other genres?
- Mary: I write YA fiction, adult fiction, and screenplays.
The Lit Bitch: Who is your all time literary crush?
- Mary: Fun question! I think my all-time literary crush is on My Secret Agent Lover Man, who is a character in the Weetzie Bat books by Francesca Lia Block.
The Lit Bitch: And of course the quintessential question I ask all authors….what advice do you have for aspiring authors/writers?
- Mary: Wake up early and write first thing in the morning. And NEVER show your early work to anyone unless you are 100% sure they will be supportive.
About Mary Pauline Lowry
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’s a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
About The Earthquake Machine (summary from Goodreads)
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.
I again want to thank Mary Pauline Lowry for stopping by and granting me an interview and giving away a copy of her book! Make sure to enter the giveaway and if you haven’t done so already, add The Earthquake Machine to your TBR list, you will not be disappointed! Cheers!