CBP: Can you share with us your Christian testimony?
MARY LU: Iím a relatively new Christian. Iím guessing about 10 years; I think I was in my late 30ís that I finally woke up. I spent my childhood in a broken home. My mother was divorced several times and I never had a father. We went to church and I heard the gospel, but it never really sank in. I spent my life looking for a fatherís love. (thereís a loud buzz on this part, I think I missed a sentence) I spent my 30ís in a very uncomfortable condition. I was very unhappy with my life, with my marriage; everything in my life was going wrong. I think the Lord had to bring me to that point before I sought Him.
And at the time, I had an old Bible that I had from my childhood and I remember finding it in the closet and dusting it off. My husband had been very against anything religious. I would sit in bed reading it at night while he was out watching TV, so I started reading from the beginning and about halfway through, something happened in my spirit and I just woke up. All I can say is I ďwoke upĒ. And I realized that what I was reading was true. And I think the main thing was some of the prophecies that were happening to Israel at that time. The Bible was declaring in Isaiah (buzzing) and I remember thinking, ďthis is real.Ē I got on my knees and I gave my life to the Lord.
Itís been a very difficult journey since because my family was unsaved. About five years after that my husband became a Christian, which is a miracle in itself, and my children. Itís just been a wonderful walk with Him and Heís blessed me greatly.
CBP: Thank you for sharing that. I know itís so personal, but I think it just helps to hear from Christians about struggles in their lives, how theyíve come to the place of having a trust in the Lord Jesus. Thatís why I ask people to share it.
You told me how you came to be published, because this is your very first novel and itís just amazing how youíve gotten to where you are at this point. Iím not minimizing your hard work, but itís incredible. Do you want to share how that happened?
MARY LU: Itís just been a miracle, the whole thing. I know there are so many authors out there whoíve worked for years and years writing. I think I would have probably had that experience if Iíd been following the Lord all my life, because I think He always wanted me to be writer, but I think because it took me so long to wake up that in the end He just said, ďOkay, weíre just going to get you in here real quick.Ē
What happened was maybe three years ago I felt a leading to write a novel. I had no plans to see it published. I just liked writing and I had some time on my hands at that moment in my life. My kids were getting older. So I sat down and wrote a novel about a Christian pirate. That was what He wanted me to write and I did it. I never had any training in writing. I donít have a degree in English, I never took a writing class.
Through a series of events He got me connected to some people on-line, American Fiction Writerís group of editors and other people who I got connected with. They gave me some guidelines and help. Shortly after I finished writing it, I got laid off from my job at IBM. Iíd been there twenty years. It was kind of a sign and I said, ďLord, okay. I either need to get a book contract or Iím going to have to find another job.Ē So I sent the book out to twenty agents, got rejected by nineteen and one guy picked me up, and he asked for the whole manuscript. I remember it was last summer, and I sent it out to him then went to visit my mom in Florida and was kind of sitting on pins and needles the whole time wondering if he would think it was worth his time. When I got back home I had a note from him saying he was going to take me on as a client. It was two months after that that he had a contract with Barber. Not only for that book but for two other books that they wanted in a series which I had not even decided to write.
It was a miracle and I give all the glory to God for it because I think it was just His timing for me, and I know that a lot of authors wait for that perfect timing that the Lord has. He knows exactly when itís going to be, and when it happens, the doors will open. And you just need to be patient for that time; in anything whether itís writing or whatever youíre hoping to accomplish in your life. When itís the Lordís time, the doors will fling open, and it wonít be anything that youíve done except that youíve been obedient and doing the work. The whole thing was just such an awesome miracle for me the way it happened. So praise God!
CBP: Didnít you say you went to a writerís conference too?
MARY LU: I went to a writerís conference after the fact, after I got the good review. I had never been to anything like a conference or anything; it was all new for me. I donít know many people in the industry, and I know a lot of people have a lot of contacts and know a lot of people before they get published. My name is kind of new out there right now.
CBP: So you have three books coming out with Barber, and one is already out, The Redemption. Why donít you tell us, briefly, what the story in Redemption is.
MARY LU: Redemption was born out of, really, my own personal journey in search of a father. The story involves a heroine who never had a father and sheís raised in an abusive home and she sets out from England to search for her father who she believes is a merchant in the Caribbean. It starts out with her in the middle of a shipwreck and the ships sheís on goes down and she ends up on an island.
Without giving too much of it away, she is rescued by a pirate who happens to be a Christian, and he takes her under his wing; tries to protect her and finds out that the father that sheís searching for is the most wicked pirate in the Caribbean. Heís a man who the hero, Merick, has been trying to find and bring to justice.
CBP: Then the second book, what is the title to that?
MARY LU: The name is The Reliance. Itís also the name of a ship; the main ship in the story. It catches up with Charlise and Merick, the hero and heroine of the first story. It continues their adventure.
CBP: I know I asked you this before, but how did you come up with the idea of writing about Christian pirates? To me that seems like an oxymoron, but you found out there actually were good pirates and bad pirates, right?
MARY LU: I had watched the Pirates of the Caribbean when the first one that came out. I really love pirates; I donít know why. But I thought in my mind, why do pirates have to be so wicked and were there any good pirates? So I did my research and found out that, indeed, there were really good, moral pirates called privateers who worked for the British government and others who worked for other governments. Their goal was to Ė they did pirate on ships, but it was more of in a war-like atmosphere. They raided Spanish merchant ships trying to keep the Spanish trade down in the Caribbean when England and Spain were at war. So they were not vicious, vile, violent guys that went around murdering and pillaging. They actually only attacked Spanish ships and they had to give a percentage of their treasure to the British government. So I was really pleased when I discovered this fact.
CBP: So then you just decided to write a story in that setting but also giving the story of your own journey, in a sense.
MARY LU: Yes. Incorporating my search for a father Ė I wanted to show that there are men and there were men back then who could be a pirate, who could have adventurous lives and still be godly men, they could still be Christians. I think Christians get a bad rap in the media and movies and TV, and I wanted to show that we donít lead these boring lives and we wear robes and chant and have to read the Bible 24 hours a day. We can have adventurous lives; that God calls us to lead adventurous lives and I wanted to show that in my book.
CBP: Is there anything in particular that, in the process of writing The Redemption, that the Lord really taught you?
MARY LU: Because, like I said, I didnít have any formal training, I was just writing and had no confidence that it would be published, and I think through the whole process He worked me through this and gave me the novel, and I realized I need to trust Him for everything; for the writing, for the story, that Heíll put it in the right hands, Heíll get it published if itís meant to be. It also confirmed, of course, as I go through Charliseís journey, my own lack of a father and realizing that God is the ultimate father. Whether you had a good father or not in your life, ultimately Heís your one true father. Heíll never leave you, never forsake you, Heís never too busy for you. I guess that just confirmed what I already knew in my spirit as I was writing it.
CBP: Well I know youíre working on book three right now, but have you started to think beyond that what your next novel or series would be about?
MARY LU: I thought a little bit about it, Iím just sort of waiting for the Lord to give me direction. If these books do well, Iím thinking I might continue adventures in the Caribbean; not necessarily with pirates, but thereís a lot of activity going on in that time. Thereís trouble with Spain and the Dutch and the French; thereís a lot of really exciting things happening in the Caribbean at that time, so Iím thinking of maybe some more historicals along that line.