You can read more about Mary Pauline Lowry or buy The Earthquake Machine at www.marypaulinelowry.com
Growing up, I became tired of reading books and watching movies about boys having adventures. I wanted more books about girls doing wild, amazing things. And I wanted to experience life fully myself; I didn't want to have to be stuck “staying safe” and being demure.
I have always been a handful—I know my parents worried about me a lot. When I was 15, I climbed out the window and ran away from home. I made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. (I would NOT advise anyone else to try this—most runaways end up in terrible trouble). When I was 21 I joined an elite “Hotshot” crew of forest firefighters and traveled all over the country battling wildfires. After that I got a job in Durango, Colorado as a carpenter’s apprentice. When I was tired of working outside in the cold, I started a job at a domestic violence shelter, helping women and children stay safe.
But no matter where I was or what I was doing, I always read tons of books. They helped me both escape and understand my own life. And I always wanted to be a writer myself. I wanted to create female characters that would inspire other women and girls to take risks and live life fully. Hopefully I’ve done that with my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE.
The Earthquake Machine, a fun, fantastical and exhilarating tale, explodes the distinction between Young Adult and adult coming-of-age novels, even as it explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish.
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.