(Updated: Sep 17, 2019)
I'm delighted to introduce you to Monica Shaw from Dallas. Her debut novel, The Rainwater Secret, started off as a personal research project looking into the life of her great aunt who became a missionary to teach the leper children in Nigeria. It quickly morphed into a deeply moving, historical fiction story about a woman who becomes a missionary in Africa after the death of her mother. I think it's fascinating that you were able to do that, Monica! And what a life she led. Okay, lets get started with a few questions.
Ask away, Dana! And thanks so much for having me here today!
What made you decide to write a book about your great aunt?
I was reading another book based in England and it reminded me of my great aunt Lily Murphy. The main character, Anna Goodwill, is based on Aunt Lily. I couldn't get her out of my head, so I started doing some research about her life in Africa as well as on the Medical Missionaries of Mary. After a trip to Drogheda, Ireland to visit with the MMM’s and research their archives, I knew I had to try to get this story told.
What kind of research did you do and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
I did a lot of research. As I mentioned above, I went to Drogheda, Ireland where the MMM’s are based, and researched their archives. I also read every book written by anyone who was in Africa with the MMM’s. It took me about 4 years of research off and on before I really buckled down to get the story written.
How did you come up with the characters in the book?
Lily wrote for the MMM’s newsletters. Each month, she would write a story about life in the Ogoja Leprosy Settlement. She wrote about different leprosy patients, so I based my characters on the patients she wrote about.
How did you decide on the cover for your book?
The cover of the book is actually a drawing of a picture that Lily took while she was in Nigeria. I had a local artist – Josiah Jones – draw the cover for me, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!
What would you like your readers to come away with after reading the book?
I think mainly that despite all the negative news in the world today, it is important to spread the word about all the good that is happening as well. The Medical Missionaries of Mary are still very quietly and humbly doing great work all over the world. And a portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Rainwater Secret are donated to them. www.mmmworldwide.org.
A portion of the proceeds benefit Medical Missionaries of Mary
Amazon Reviews 4.9 average (119 reviews)
" The Rainwater Secret is a compelling story, based on a very real individual, that captures the reader from the first page and only gets better as the story continues. "
"First time author Monica Shaw has done an extraordinary job creating a work of fiction based on facts surrounding the life and work of her great aunt and the Medical Missionaries of Mary "
"I couldn't get enough of the vivid details of the leprosy settlements in 1940's Africa and the missionaries who served them. It sets the harsh, bleak realities of the time against incredible devotion shown by those offering hope. It's a beautiful example of living one's faith and how the power of love, community and acceptance of 'the other' can transform lives. "