Sunday, April 17, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Gudrun Mouw, author of 'From Ashes Into Light'

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
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 fiancĂ©’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.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I spent a lot of time at the University of California at Santa Barbara library which provided good historical information about World War II and the time of the Spanish conquest of California. I also went on a European research trip to the Czech Republic, the former East Germany, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I was able to spend time with relatives, who told  me their personal stories and took me to some of the places that are meaningful to the characters in my book.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I pursued publishers and agents in the late nineties with no luck. Then recently, Raincloud Press offered to take me on.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

I trusted that I would be treated fairly, that she would stand behind her belief that my work deserved a broader audience.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?


Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

The month of release had to do with scheduling issues of editing and printing.

How did you choose your cover?

The publisher works with a designer and a photographer. She has an artistic background herself and put the cover through many revisions. She asked for my input, of course, and we came to a mutual agreement.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I am a big fan of revising as I go along. After writing something, a good night’s sleep can often bring a fresh perspective.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

My publisher last week sent me a lovely postcard to hand out to people; it has a picture of the book cover on the front, a description of the book on the back and a request for help in scheduling a book tour stop. I have already received my first book store connection as a result.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?


What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

We already have done a Goodreads giveaway. I thought it was helpful in getting some good reviews.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

·        Be willing to keep working on whatever is needed to help promote the book.
·        Do not get stuck with high expectations or inflexibility. Revise when asked to revise.
·        Be humble and hopeful. Listen to good advice. Do not see your editors as the enemy. They want the book to succeed as much as you do.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

·        Be willing to travel and make appearances.
·        Do talk about the process on your blog, with people you know. Let them do what they can to help with ideas, etc.
·        Do radio shows, or any other live interviews to let people know a bit more about who you are.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?

My publisher organized book giveaways. She helped me get my blog to post automatically to my Facebook page. I’ve been writing about the publication process on my blog and that has helped to create interest. Also, I’ve joined some groups, like the Visionary Fiction Alliance and writer’s groups on Goodreads where I can talk about my forthcoming publication.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I would love to see this book as a movie.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

This book is an exploration of the depths of historical genocide in order to portray the human capacity for hope, redemption and transformation. May this book uplift you, ultimately.

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