I’m so very proud of my friend, fellow author, and CatholicMom.com contributor Erin McCole-Cupp, who recently released a wonderful new book entitled “Working Mother“. In my review of this very affordably priced work of fiction, I shared:
“When I contemplate the Holy Family, I often wonder about those ‘hidden years’ — the decades left biblically undescribed that laid the foundation for Jesus Christ’s public ministry. In Working Mother, Erin McCole Cupp offers us one possible scenario in a story that is emotionally gripping and filled with heart. Based on known biblical precepts, Working Mother contemplates the depths of Mary and Joseph’s ‘yes’ to God’s will for their lives.”
Today, I’m honored to share my recent email interview with Erin. I encourage you to spend time with this wonderful work of fiction!
My name is Erin. I have one husband, three daughters, two dogs, one cat and one cockatiel. I’m a revert, a lay Dominican, and when I’m not homeschooling, keeping house, or playing Taxi Mom, I write stuff.
Q: Tell us about Working Mother. What motivated you to write this book? Where did you get the idea? How would you describe the book to our readers?
I actually wrote “Working Mother” about seven years ago. Our family took some financial hits, and my freelance writing income was scanty and unreliable. I had to go back to working outside the home. I remember the day I told my kids that I’d be going back to work, and my middle child said, “But Mommy, I thought you were a writer!” I don’t remember how I replied, but I do remember being glad that I was driving at the time and the kids in the back seat couldn’t see me cry. I had to lay aside what I was pretty sure were good, holy desires–staying home with my kids and leading them to the Lord–and I could not see the sense in it. Why wasn’t God helping us enough that I could go back to working from home, doing what I loved for His glory? Every Catholic I knew advised me, “Go to Mary. She understands.” I would snicker and say, “Yeah, well, Mary never had to get a job.” Finally, it was like I heard a voice in my heart ask back, “Are you sure about that?” Over lunch breaks and after bedtimes, “Working Mother” was written.
Q: The book is getting rave reviews! Congratulations–that’s well deserved! How does the finished product relate to what you originally envisioned?
Thank you so much! It’s so exciting to see how the story has touched others. Actually, the finished product is pretty close to the original drafts. There weren’t many changes to the actual story besides the usual spit and polish good editing provides. Originally I had marketed it to a handful of magazines over the years, but they were either not interested in this kind of story, changed to formats that no longer included fiction, or just out and out folded. So I put the story on the back burner until one time last summer. I was talking with my editor Ellen Gable at Full Quiver Publishing, brainstorming about ways to get more of their usual readers to look my way, because my novel Don’t You Forget About Me with with FQP is a bit quirky in that it’s a murder mystery, a little outside their usual catalog. I took a chance on asking Ellen to consider publishing “Working Mother” as a low-risk way to get my more obviously Catholic work in front of more readers, especially if we offered it for only 99 cents. She was willing, so here we are! Not what I expected, but what ever is?
Q: What is your hope for this book?
Well, sure, there’s the aforementioned practical, “funnel marketing” hope for this story to send more readers to check out more of my work. Still, I wouldn’t have bothered writing “Working Mother” in the first place if it hadn’t been for hope. I wrote it out of pain, exhaustion, confusion and disappointment. Writing “Working Mother” gave me hope that in having to work outside of my home, I wasn’t being driven away from what is good but that God was sending me and my children out to fulfill part of his plan for us in this world. I wanted to share that hope with others who suffer from “mommy guilt,” whatever form it takes. If you’re following God’s call, whether you’re at home, at the office, or at the home office, then you’re going where God has sent you. Period. Let go of the guilt and hold on to hope in Christ. God has a purpose for all of our pain, exhaustion, confusion and disappointment. I know there are a bajillion blog posts and non-fiction books telling us that’s true, but as a fiction writer, I get the opportunity to show you how that could be true–in Mary’s life then and in our lives now.
Q: How has Working Mother changed the way you relate to our Blessed Mother and the Holy Family in your spiritual life?
As a fiction writer, I have to employ my all my senses through imagination. I can’t just think deep thoughts. I have to think, feel, smell, taste, hear, see what the characters experience. Having spent some time with the Holy Family not just on a prayer card but in my actual brain has breathed a whole new dimension into my prayer life, into how I put my own struggles into perspective. I had to research what their world was like, where they might have hidden in Egypt, what their home would have been like, what would their interactions with the Gentiles have been… I could go on and on. Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in dust and dirt and bad smells and real life risk–all for us. The act of having to take those ideas and put them into something that readers could also experience themselves has shown me not just the humanity of Mary and the Holy Family but how they lived their virtues as well. Seeing that Jesus could have made their lives comfortable and chose not to has shown me that there is purpose in all suffering. So much of our Catholic faith teaches us that, but having to adopt it in my own imagination, trying to see through the eyes of a possible experience Mary may have had, has really brought it all home for me. I hope it does the same for the readers.
Q: What is next?
I am working like crazy on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me (yes, the sequel’s chapter titles will be the titles of ’80s AND early ’90s songs). Inspired by my research for “Working Mother,” I’m also working on a non-fiction series for girls ages 8-15 called First Disciples, which will teach girls the life skills that Mary, Elizabeth, and all the women of their time would have known: fire building, spinning, weaving, and so on. It’s very exciting and hands-on. If you’re interested in being a beta-tester, visit my First Disciples page and we’ll be in touch!
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors, both fiction and non-fiction? Who inspires and influences you as an author?
Okay, this question is always very humbling, because I don’t read a ton of them thar highfalutin Catholic classics that I’m “supposed to” read, so bear with me. I do tend to read a lot of fiction, because that’s my thing: older Neal Stephenson/Stephen Bury, William Gibson, Tracy Chevalier, Jane Austen, Katherine Patterson, Elizabeth Gaskell, John Desjarlais… and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Charlotte Bronte, considering my first novel is a sci-fi retelling of her Jane Eyre. In the past year I’ve become a HUGE fan of Amy M. Bennett‘s Black Horse Campground Mysteries, Leslie Lynch‘s Appalachian Foothills series, and anything at all by Dena Hunt. Ellen Gable, besides being an editor, is quite a skilled author in her own right. As for non-fiction, I adored Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia and The Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey–and I’m not just saying that to kiss up! Right now I’m savoring my way through Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial and loving that, too.
Q: Are there any additional thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Not to beat a dead horse, but our sufferings have value. Seriously. Don’t back away from them. Examine them, mine them for meaning, and ask God to help you see that your suffering is as precious to Him as Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Oh, and pray that I can remember these lessons as well. I forget them all to often.
Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey
- Working Mother – Erin McCole-Cupp – all rights reserved – used with permission
- Erin McCole-Cupp – Erin McCole-Cupp – all rights reserved – used with permission