Gudrun Mouw was born in East Prussia (formerly part of Germany) in 1944. At the age of 7, she arrived in the United States as a displaced person. Mouw moved many times in the US before ending up in California in the 60s. There she studied at San Jose State University, receiving her Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1969. Mouw has worked as a college English teacher, a Stanford librarian, a columnist, a California poet-in-the-school, as well as a yoga and meditation teacher. She lives in Santa Barbara County, California and has for over thirty years.
Mouw wrote From Ashes Into Light beginning with a research trip to various locations in Eastern Europe, Germany, Austria and Switzerland (in the 1990s). Her research took her places like Dachau, the concentration camp, a Jewish graveyard in Prague, and the streets of Salzburg.
Mouw is a prolific and award-winning poet and her poems have appeared in literary journals such as Praire Schooner, Practical Mystic, The Chariton Review and others. Her collection of poetry called Wife of the House was published in April 2014. Mouw won first place in a short fiction contest at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in 1992. From Ashes into Light will be her first published novel.
For More Information
- Visit Gudrun Mouw’s website
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About the Book:
From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.
Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.
With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancé’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.
For More Information
- From Ashes Into Light is available at Amazon.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Would you call yourself a born writer?
No. I do remember as a child wanting to find a way to express myself creatively, however. My father painted; my mother enjoyed textile crafts. It seemed there was something that wanted to be acknowledged or recognized within myself, but I didn’t know what it was. Only after I became a fluent English reader did a writing pathway gradually emerge for me.
What was your inspiration for From Ashes Into Light?
I survived a war zone in early childhood which exposed me to the devastation of human suffering. I was fascinated by the subject of how healing and transformation is possible despite tremendous obstacles.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I like to explore themes of consciousness and the expansion of consciousness.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
I worked on this novel over 20 years.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
My favorite way to start the day is to meditate and practice yoga. This helps to clear the mind and relax the body. After breakfast, I bring a cup of green tea to whatever writing project may be before me. On days when I have no other commitments, I may write for three or four hours, take a break, go for a walk, check my email, etc. Then, I often continue to write in the afternoon. However, I am not disciplined to the point where every day is the same. When I read about the strict daily routine of the philosopher Emanuel Kant, I remember wishing I was more like that.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
This novel started out one way; over time the content and characters changed, evolved and turned into something I never anticipated. The challenging part was to trust an organic process where the writing informs the writer rather than the other way around.
What do you love most about being an author?
I love the sense of completion that being the author of 2 books has brought about. As a result, this more readily clears space for other writing.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I am with Raincloud Press, a small publisher. This publisher has been very supportive of my work– helpful, reassuring, persistent and innovate in her desire to see that my work receives the wide audience she says it deserves. I had almost given up that such publishers still exist.
Where can we find you on the web?
I have a blog: www.poetrydivine.com