I met Mary DeMuth at a writers conference this year when she was the keynote speaker and seminar leader. Mary is an influencer in the writing community and she’s earned that status with her own fiction and nonfiction writing, her speaking, her generous mentoring of new writers, and her writing resources. I received an advanced reading copy of “A Slow Burn” from Mary’s publisher and it was the first of Mary’s novels that I’ve read.
Who is Mary DeMuth? An accomplished writer, Mary’s parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, Building the Christian Family You Never Had, and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Her real-to-life novels inspire people to turn trials into triumphs: Watching the Tree Limbs (2007 Christy Award finalist, ACFW Book of the Year 2nd Place) and Wishing on Dandelions (2007 Retailer’s Choice Award finalist). Find out more at www.marydemuth.com
Interview with Mary
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I wrote the series of stories based on hearing friends of mine talk about their Christian homes that appeared great on the outside, only to hide abuse on the inside. This really bothered me. Daisy became the inciting incident to explore three people’s stories relating to authenticity and hiding. In book one, Daisy Chain, I explore a teenage boy’s perspective to a family in crisis. In book two, A Slow Burn, I examine what would it be like to have deep, deep mommy regrets enough to want to be free from them. In book three, Life in Defiance, I tell the conclusion of the story through a battered wife’s perspective.
I am not a teenage boy. Nor am I a neglectful mother. And I’m not a battered wife. But I’ve interacted with folks who are. It’s for them that I wrote these stories.
What are the major themes of the book?
You’re never too far from God’s grace and love and forgiveness. That God is a pursuing, redemptive, relentless God. He loves His children, even when they run far, far away. That Jesus comes to us in surprising packages, and sometimes we’re so bothered by appearances that we miss Him.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
I had to figure out how a drug addict acted and thought. I had to research what drugs do to a person, particularly the lure and the trips they take folks on. I had to get into the mind of a drug addict, which wasn’t easy for me, someone who is terrified of drugs. I created Defiance from my head and my two-year stint in East Texas.
With which character do you, personally, identify most and why?
That’s really hard. I see myself in all of them. When I feel guilty about my parenting, I relate to Emory. When I feel like an outcast, trying to do the right thing, I understand Hixon and Muriel better.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That God is bigger than our sin, our regret, our hopelessness. He takes delight in intersecting the darkest of circumstances. He is there, available.
Book Review of A Slow Burn
Review by Michelle Rayburn
This is the first book by Mary DeMuth that I’ve read and I’m sorry I haven’t read one sooner. Her style is different from some of the syrupy sweet stories that I’ve grown tired of. She has a way of crafting words into pictures that resonate in my mind and draw me deeper into the story. She comes up with unique ways to express things like, “The porch had an incline a marble would love.”
DeMuth doesn’t wrap things up in shiny little packages that look nothing like reality. Instead, she presents a realistic story with plot lines that look more like the way things happen in our own lives and in the lives of our neighbors, grit and all. Her writing reveals a deep understanding of the shame of a secret.
A Slow Burn is the story of a woman who needs grace but can’t seem to accept it when it’s offered. Emory Chance lives in a swarm of regret that has consumed her. Her daughter has been murdered and a she has left are questions. In Emory’s story, DeMuth gives a voice to the power of forgiveness, and she doesn’t paste Jesus on at the end or stick him in a token chapter. Instead, she weaves the love of Christ throughout the book in the form of a man named Hixon.
Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down, but at first I was a little bit disappointed with the ending. Without spoiling the story for the reader, I’ll go as far as saying that I longed for more closure. It’s the 2nd in a 3-part series, so I’m sure there’s more to come. There were other elements that I didn’t like about the end. Mostly because I’m too used to “they lived happily ever after” endings. But the more I think about it, the more beauty I see in this ending, the beauty of deliverance.
A Slow Burn is also on tour at these blogs. See other reviews by readers.