Catholic Mom Book Spotlight

The Child Goddess
by Louise Marley

"science fiction"
Function: noun: fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component

Source:  Merriam-Webster Online

Since its inception, one of the goals for has been to promote quality work by Catholic artists and authors that are in line with the teachings of the Church.  Given this stipulation, I was somewhat hesitant when I received The Child Goddess by Louise Marley.  In my interview below, you will note that I question Louise regarding some of the topics that are covered in the book.  Given Louise's heartfelt responses to my questions and the tremendous message of hope shared through The Child Goddess I have chosen to "spotlight" the book and her writing. I want to underscore that the book is a work of science fiction. I encourage you, as readers and Catholics, to read the interview and make a determination for yourself.   

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The Child Goddess
by Louise Marley
hardcover, Ace Books, 336 pages, May, 2004



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CM: Louise, thank you for participating in this book spotlight about your latest work, The Child Goddess. Please tell our readers a little bit more about your personal and professional lives.

LM: First and foremost, of course, I'm a Catholic mom! I have a son who's now in college, and my husband is a businessman. I've also been blessed to have two fulfilling careers, first as a classical concert and opera singer, and now as a novelist. I taught at an arts college in Seattle for a long time, and also taught voice privately, juggling that with my family duties when my son was small. Now I'm concentrating on writing, which has given our family more time together.

As part of my musical career, I was the alto soloist and section leader for the St. James Cathedral Choir in Seattle. That position led to my conversion to Catholicism, and ultimately to the conversions of both my son and my husband. My husband is an usher, and my son serves at Mass whenever he's home from school. I can hardly put into words how much it means for me to have my whole family in the church!

CM: Faith and spirituality are at the core of this book. How has your faith journey affected your writing career?

LM: My very first novel, a fantasy titled Sing the Light, was inspired by my conversion, as well as based on my musical life. And I think all my books and stories, even when they're not overtly Catholic, are deeply influenced by my faith. And there are things I simply can't put on the page, things that offend my beliefs, like curses that use names that are holy to me. I'm not at all sure that helps my writing career, but I can't do it any other way.

CM: Can you please tell our readers the basic story line of
The Child Goddess?

LM: The story takes place about three hundred years in the future, and its main characters are Isabel Burke, a woman priest, and Oa, a child from a lost colony of children. Oa has been taken from her home world of Virimund, and Isabel becomes her guardian and her champion. When Isabel and her friend Simon Edwards learn that there is something very mysterious about Oa, they travel to Virimund to try to solve the mystery, and to find the other children. Throughout, the corporation that hired Isabel is trying to use Oa for their own purposes.

CM: As a science fiction genre novel,
The Child Goddess takes place in the distant future, in a world far evolved from our own today. The book also features a Catholic Church which has changed somewhat from our own modern Church. How have you managed to explore this world while remaining respectful of our current Catholic Church views and teachings?

LM: I've spent some time, as so many contemporary Catholics have, studying the history of our church. In fact, one of the things that drew me to the Roman Catholic Church was the feeling of connecting with Christians over the centuries--twenty of them now! And I'm struck by how much orthodoxy has changed over those centuries, and how much energy we all need to put into trying to discern God's own words and wisdom in the confusion of human conclusions.

Before I wrote a word of
The Child Goddess, I sat down with Sr. Francis Wink, SNJM, and asked her a lot of questions. I had help from the pastor of St. James as well. Then I wrote a story of faith and hope and deep belief in Christian teachings. Science fiction, of course, allows us to project possible futures, by no means probable or certain ones. In my possible future view, the Church, for a variety of reasons, allows women priests, though they are not recognized by all Catholics. This is Isabel's situation. She moves through her world of conflict and secrecy and doubt, her faith challenged, but her actions always in the Christian model. She's made one great mistake, and is searching for renewal of her faith, and to reaffirm her commitment to her calling.

It's fascinating to be answering these questions from a sister Catholic; more often, I have to field questions from nonCatholics, whose point of reference is completely different. They want to ask about celibacy, and why that's necessary; and they challenge the very existence of the Church three centuries hence. Those are harder questions to address! So much of this novel draws on my Catholic perspective, and I'm often startled to be ask questions about liturgies and vows. Of course, I remind people the Church has been strong for two thousand years. I doubt
The Child Goddess will convert doubters, but I hope it does show the incredible love and sacrifice that goes into the priesthood. And that was my intent from the outset, to honor and explore priestly life.

CM: As an author, how do you come up with your ideas? Would you like to share information on any of your past or future books with our readers?

Ideas come from the oddest places. Sometimes it's a book I've read, something I saw when I was out walking my dog, some odd thing that popped into my mind when I'm doing laundry or driving to the grocery store. We authors hesitate to explore this question too deeply, for fear we'll jinx the process!
The Child Goddess began with a title, and the rest of the story came from someplace I can't name--I think of it as a spiritual journey, really, figuring out what a story is going to be. I have no other way to explain the strangeness of the creative process.

My next novel is a young adult fantasy called Singer in the Snow, which will be out in 2005. And after that, I think I'll be working on another fantasy, although I'm not certain yet. My last two books were both science fiction, The Maquisarde, about a French musician who becomes a fighter for the resistance in the late 21st century, and The Terrorists of Irustan, about women who rebel against the veil. In between those I wrote The Glass Harmonica, a historical fantasy about Ben Franklin and his invention of the glass harmonica, and two young girls who play the instrument.

CM: What is the main message you hope to spread through
The Child Goddess?

LM: It's love. Love of God, love for children, love and forbearance with each other, with those that are like us and those who are different. And I didn't really understand that was the message until you asked the question!

CM: Thank you so much for sharing with us about this book, your faith, and your writing. Are there any additional thoughts or comments you wish to share with our readers?

LM: It's been my pleasure. I would like to mention that there is a subgenre within science fiction, usually dubbed 'social science fiction,' in which some of the sociological and cultural issues of our time are examined. It's safer, in a lot of ways, to look at them through the lens of a different era, even a different planet. In
The Child Goddess I think I was trying to show the active part faith has in the lives of people who are blessed with faith; other books tackle other issues.

If any of your readers have more questions about my work or my thoughts on writing, please invite them to visit my website at  And they can e-mail me, too. I enjoy e-mail discussions.



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