The Rainwater Secret: Author Interview

Monica Shaw
Genre: Historical Fiction / Medical Missionaries
Publisher: Self-Published
Date of Publication: March 31, 2017
Number of Pages: 354

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The Rainwater Secret is a deeply moving, historical fiction novel about a woman who travels

to Africa to teach the leper children who were banished from their villages. Single and feeling there is nothing left for her in small-town England, Anna embarks on an adventure as a volunteer teacher with the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Life as Anna has known it is forever changed as she learns the culture that would banish its sick, disfigured, and crippled to the bush. Babies are left to die on roadsides, children are chased away to live by whatever means they can find. The aged are abandoned.

Anna’s daily life is an adventure as she travels from one village to another across a hostile land with few passable roads, rickety bridges threatening to fall apart and casting occupants on the jagged rocks far below, and weather that turns a calm river into a roiling death trap. In spite of the trials, Anna also manages to find love and family in this godforsaken land.

Follow this adventure through disease, weather, strife, death, and determination to turn a few acres of land into a loving home for the outcast lepers of Nigeria.



Interview with Monica Shaw 

What did your great aunt do that inspired this book?

Well, back in 1950, my great aunt, Lily Murphy, heard that the Medical Missionaries of Mary were looking for a teacher to come to Africa to teach the leper children who were banned from their villages because of their disease.  It wasn’t just my aunt, it was the wonderful sisters with the Medical Missionaries of Mary who were able to take a few acres of land and make it into a home for the leprosy patients.  They gave each patient a plot of land to grow food, helped them build a thatched roof home, and gave them medical care and an education.

Also, I want to mention that a portion of the proceeds from the book goes to the Medical Missionaries of Mary who are still very humbly and quietly doing great work all over the world.

This adventure seemed like it would take a lot of courage.

Absolutely! It took them a month by boat to get to Nigeria and then at least another week by kitcar (which is a car built from spare parts) up to Ogoja where the first settlement was built.  One of the nuns I interviewed told me that she was nineteen when she made the trip and thought she was going to be a nurse’s aide and then get trained to be a nurse in a hospital.  She said when they drove up, there were no buildings, no housing – there was just a table under a tree where they were giving the leprosy patients inoculations.

How did you come across Lily’s story?

I was actually reading another book that was based in England, and it reminded me of Lily. I COULD NOT get her out of my head. I think there was a lot of divine intervention involved. I truly believe she was up in Heaven giving me a big nudge to get this story told.  I just started researching, and the more I found, the more fascinated I was. I contacted the MMMs in Drogheda, Ireland, outside Dublin, and planned a trip to research more in their archives. Once I met the sisters there and spent time with them and in the archives, I knew I had to figure out how to get this done.

It took you seven years to write, what was it like juggling being a mom and a first time author? 

Well the easiest answer is that it took me seven years, which should tell you something! It was a trick, but I LOVE this story.  I was so determined to make sure that I got the story told, I worked on it every moment I could.

What was so inspiring about Lily’s journey in life that you wanted to share it?

Lily and all the MMMs basically gave up many, many years of theirs lives to go to a foreign land, not knowing what they were getting into, to help others. Many gave their lives there.  Lily was interviewed in the Dallas Morning News a long time ago, and when they asked her about going on this adventure so far away and why, she just replied, “What’s the use of just working for oneself?”  which pretty much says it all.

What does your book say about the strength and spirit of women?

I think mainly that where there is a will, there is a way.  They went there not knowing what they would find and just had faith that they would be led in the right direction.  If that doesn’t describe inspirational women full of spirit and strength, I’m not sure what does.

Monica Shaw is a native of Dallas, Texas where she has been a successful entrepreneur. She attended St. Thomas Aquinas, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, and earned her Geology / Petroleum Engineering degree from UT Austin. 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 teacher. Monica is married with 3 children.

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APRIL 23-May 3, 2019


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