Not Enough Bookshelves: Guest Post: Mary Pauline Lowry

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Guest Post: Mary Pauline Lowry

I am delighted to be hosting Mary Pauline Lowry on the blog today. I’m really looking forward to reading her book, The Earthquake Machine, it sounds fabulous. Thanks for stopping by Mary!

Traveling Through Mexico

I’m so excited to be featured on NOT ENOUGH BOOKSHELVES. Since our fab blog host ALEXA spent time living in MEXICO CITY, I want to write a little bit about why most of my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is set in Mexico.

As a little girl, I often traveled with my family to Cuernavaca, Mexico. The foods, smells, language and culture were so different from anything I’d experienced before. Going there was like entering a fantastical otherworld. 

When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home and traveled all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. That was such an exhilarating, scary experience. And I always wondered what it would have been like to travel deeper into the country’s interior. 

So when I was 21 or so I traveled from my hometown of Austin to Oaxaca on a bus. That was a fantastic adventure and I wanted other people to be able to experience it vicariously through fiction. So I wrote THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE.

The novel’s protagonist RHONDA runs away while on a river rafting trip in Big Bend National Park. She swims across the RIO GRANDE RIVER to MEXICO. Once there she cuts her hair and dies it black so she can pass as a Mexican boy named ANGEL and travel alone to the state of Oaxaca to find her family’s yardman. 

RHONDA/ANGEL senses as soon as she crosses the border that MEXICO, and the Mexican people, language and culture, are all incredibly different than what she knows. But she’s lived in such a bland, stifling American neighborhood that she’s eager to drink in the culture that’s as rich as Oaxacan hot chocolate. She travels across the desert on a burro, walks through a jungle at night, and goes on the run from a band of Mexican boys who are angry she’s discovered their secret; and it’s by being in a strange and magical country that she learns about her true self. 

THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is an adventure story about the amazing and enchanted things that are possible for a girl who takes risks. 

Book synopsis:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read, 
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

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.

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.


  1. I will be reading this one soon and I am looking forward to it!


  2. I kind of wish I had run away to Mexico when I was a teenager now. 🙂 This book sounds amazing!



    1. I know I wish I'd had some kind of adventure! At least I can make my characters have them now 🙂


  3. Oh! That sounds really good and exciting. I'll read it!


  4. This sounds like a terrific book! I used to dream about running away to Mexico!



    1. Really? Have you ever been? It's an amazing country


  5. Oh, this sounds like a fantastic book, and Mary sounds like such an interesting, inspiring person. I love books with a really vivid sense of setting, that give me a genuine taste for a place I've never been. This sounds exactly like one of those–I'd love to go to Mexico one day, but for now I'll have to settle for the read. Thanks for the recommendation!


  6. Amie – me too, I adore great settings and they are so hard to do 🙂 Hope you enjoy it.


I adore comments, so thanks so much for taking the time. I'll try and return the favour 😀