- The Earthquake Machine
Working as a forest firefighter changed my life completely. I was one of only two girls on a 20 person elite Hotshot crew of wildland firefighters. We traveled the country to battle blazes in high mountains and gorgeous deserts. The job taught me I love adventure, that I’m capable of doing hard work, and that there are still plenty of jobs that are done mostly by men.
When I became a Hollywood screenwriter, I found out that only 10% of screenwriters of major motion pictures are women. That’s the same percentage as female forest firefighters! I want women and girls to know that with support and a sense of adventure, they can do or become anything they want.
Growing up, I loved the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which tells the story of a boy who runs away from home. I wanted to write a book about a girl who leaves home and has incredible and life-changing experiences and who does things she thought only boys could do. And so I started writing 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 kind man named Juan Diego convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the Juan Diego’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, construction worker, open water lifeguard, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. She currently works as a novelist, screenwriter, and regular contributor to the Huffington Post.