I am so excited to be interviewing Mary Pauline Lowry, author of The Earthquake Machine which is being released today! Check out the interview, along with a synopsis of The Earthquake Machine :)
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.
Tell us a bit about your novel.
THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is a wild, fantastical novel about a 14 year-old girl who runs away from home and crosses the Rio Grande River to Mexico. She then “passes” as a Mexican boy and travels deep into Mexico searching for her one true friend who has been deported to the state of Oaxaca.
How did you come up with the idea for The Earthquake Machine?
When I was 15 years old I ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. (I would NOT recommend that anyone else run away from home—it’s very dangerous and I was lucky to make it home safely). It was such a crazy adventure and it made me wonder what it would’ve been like to keep traveling into Mexico. The novel explores that idea.
If you got the chance to spend a day with any character from The Earthquake Machine, who would it be and why?
I would spend the day with Juan Diego, a peyote-addled man who runs a bar in Milagros, the little Mexican town on the border where Rhonda (the main character) first goes when she crosses the border. Juan Diego is a little crazy and thinks Rhonda is an actual angel that has appeared to him. He helps her transform herself so she can “pass” as a Mexican boy and he gives her the name of Angel (which in Mexico is a boy’s name). He also sends her off with a giant bag of peyote. Juan Diego is so crazy and so brilliant; I think it would be a blast to spend time with him.
What do you hope readers will obtain from The Earthquake Machine?
I hope readers will be inspired to have amazing adventures and to do creative work themselves. I also hope they will be inspired to support their girl friends who are doing the same.
What is your favorite YA book or author?
My favorite YA author of all time is Francesca Lia Block who wrote the Weetzie Bat books. I read WEETZIE BAT for the first time when I was 14 or 15 and it blew my mind. It made me see that American writers can incorporate elements of magical realism in a way that really works. And that YA books can be very hip and edgy.
Do you have any current writing projects? Can you tell us a bit about them?
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.
You can check out more about Mary Pauline Lowry and The Earthquake Machine, as well as her short stories at her website: www.marypaulinelowry.com