For every person, there is a place. A magical place—magical if only because it is yours.
So begins my novel, Mt. Moriah’s Wake. Many people have asked me what the book is about. What a difficult question to answer, for it’s about so many things. It’s about love—that exhilarating feeling of finding a special person, and the gut-wrenching abyss that forms when that love slips away. It’s about friendship: the enduring camaraderie that is more familial than many sibling relationships. The kind of friend beside whom you can sit silently and speak volumes.
It’s about faith and the notion that faith is not a finality but a journey. It’s about the tragic events that make us doubt God and the ways in which we struggle to believe again.
The novel is about motherhood and families and the complexities of each—about the paradox of misguided, stifling love that still bears fruits, still sustains us even when we turn away.
But most of all, Mt. Moriah’s Wake is about the sense of place. I believe that for each of us, there are places that remind us of our childhoods, places that bring a smile to our lips, or to which our minds retreat when we are frightened, when we are overtaken with sorrow or when our hearts are bursting with joy. A place “with smells and tastes and sights so familiar your throat catches” (MMW, page 1).
There are many such places that my senses remember, both significant and trivial. My grandparents’ houses. The pine-smelling laundry chute tucked inside the second story linen closet of my childhood home. The distinctive scent of the marble entry to my pediatrician’s office in the towering medical center, and the tinny elevator ding that announced I was on his floor. The scent of Jergen’s that a kiss from my mother left behind.
The entangled limbs of the oak tree on the playground at my daughters’ elementary school. Overgrown honeysuckle bushes lining my childhood backyard that remind me of grassy picnics with my rowdy dog Winky.
Our church sanctuary where my friend and I wrote notes, where our parents shushed us. The pew in which my dad let me nap against his shoulder, while sun bursting through stained glass spilled a myriad of colors across my face. Where there were weddings and baptisms and funerals and thousands of ordinary Sundays punctuating our family’s weeks. Resolute traditions cushioning life’s changes.
The university campus that ever evolves, yet feels exactly the same as when my 18-year old legs first explored it. The magnolia canopies that bear my secrets and, swaying in the breeze, whisper of infinity.
Mt. Moriah’s Wake is not action-packed, and I’m okay with that. Life’s subtleties are what fascinate me, make me want to write. I have long been intrigued by people and personalities—by their motivations, their fears, their dreams. The characters in Mt. Moriah’s Wake are as real to me as my own family. I wish JoAnna would clip her hair back out of her eyes, and I wish Maddy wouldn’t clear his throat so much. Doro never stops moving and her energy makes me nervous. I want to say, “Stop and sit down for a minute!” Tuck is just a little too cocky for his own good, and why doesn’t Tom realize what a catch he is! As for Grace, she is an incredible person, but she also craves attention, doesn’t she? I love them all and, like my own family, they aggravate me at times. My husband likes to remind me that these characters are not real. Well, he can think what he likes. I know the truth.
One reviewer wrote that Mt. Moriah’s Wake is “a novel that is beautifully written and while it is not explosive with action, it is filled with realism and humanity that will immediately rub off on readers.” Oh, I hope so. I hope you will read it and its story will remind you of those places lingering in the recesses of your memories. I hope you will enjoy your travels to Mt. Moriah, and the place will stick with you for a while.
And I hope your places remain embedded in your heart — safe havens always ready for your retreat. Teasing us at the edge of our laughter and tears, our places are what made us. Gentle reminders, permanent blessings.