Today Jan Marquart is my special guest author! She has penned eight books, including Echoes from the Womb, about resolving mother-daughter conflicts, complete with writing prompts, and The Mindful Writer. She is currently enjoying a successful book tour with literary publicist Stephanie Barko in conjunction with the publication of her latest work, Voices From the Land.
Voices From the Land is a historical novel set in 1860 that relates the story of a small group of people and their indefatigable determination to establish a new town in the days leading up to and following President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed most slaves. The vicious hate sometimes exhibited in an unsettled and lawless new land is juxtaposed against stories of compassion and community. Despite incidents of violence and mayhem, the residents of the new town’s spirits ensures their survival.
The Genesis of Voices From the Land
In 2005, I moved to Lamy, New Mexico, and bought an adobe home that sat on five acres. I had become sick from mold and chemical poisoning and needed a place away from people in order to heal — a clean and natural environment away from toxins. The area was quite beautiful everywhere I looked. In one direction I could see the Santa Fe Mountains and in another direction I could see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Walking around the hundred-year-old pinon and juniper trees, this property exuded such a strong energy that it felt as if the trees were speaking. Of all the places I’ve ever lived, this land was not only a completely different experience, but I could feel myself connecting to the oneness of the planet that I’ve heard others speak about in the past. I felt myself starting to heal and the stillness in the land allowed me to go deeper within than I’d ever thought possible.
The next year, I was explaining to an intuitive the feelings I had living amidst such high-energy land and trees, and how I thought this was what I needed for my healing. He then proceeded to tell me to sit near the trees with pen and paper because spirits living there wanted me to record their stories. I didn’t know what to think. This instruction frightened me and I don’t frighten easily when it comes to spirits, but letting spirits enter my writing was another matter.
One hot fall day in October 2008, when I was looking for something interesting to write, I decided to take the intuitive up on the task. I traipsed out to the section of hundred year old pinon and juniper trees at the end of my property with a camping chair, pen, journal and a cup of hot tea. In the Introduction to Voices From the Land, I explain the details about how the stories came through me, the energy that kept me in place even though I wanted to go into the house and the unique characters that kept moving through me until I wrote everything they needed to say. Eleven days later, I had ninety-seven pages of stories. Together these stories made up Voices From the Land which speaks to a small town in the mid-west in 1860. These voices opened my heart. They speak to the hardships during times of great strife in our country. They tell about how people pulled together and how they had a belief in something bigger to keep them going until they conquered their needs for survival.
When I asked four friends and neighbors to review the manuscript, not one of them would return it. Each described the power the voices had in giving them inspiration and direction and they felt they had become close to the power of the voices so much so that they had to keep the manuscript. One of my friends felt so strongly about Voices that she offered to write the foreword for the book and encouraged me to get it published. I hear from many who read it that it has shifted their thinking and I just love that.
Jan Marquart is a licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in family counseling. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as a master’s degree in Social Work from San Jose State University.
Jan is a member of the New Mexico Book Association, National Writers Union, and the National Association of Social Workers.
To date, Jan has authored eight books, including Voices From the Land, in addition to two booklets. Her various articles have been published in newspapers and journals.
Jan has generously provided an autographed copy of Voices From the Land for me to award to one lucky Colloquium reader (selected at random)! So be sure to visit Colloquium tomorrow, Saturday, July 30, 2011, to read my review of Voices From the Land and enter to win!