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
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
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
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
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
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
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
they can e-mail me, too. LMarley@aol.com I enjoy e-mail discussions.
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