Today we have a return guest, Delores Moraga Carter Russell, the heroine of The Lyre and the Lambs and The Sheepwalker’s Daughter. Dee, I devoured the continuation of your story, this time set in the 1960s, as fast as I did the first novel.
Your life has sure has some twists and turns. Would you mind sharing a little about what has happened to you since we last saw you?
Fourteen years have passed quickly! I spent about ten years in Carmel working at the gallery, and growing as an artist and business woman. Roger was immersed in his career, travelling all over the world. We saw each other when we could but I guess neither of us were willing to give up work we loved to be together, that is until Roger had his heart attack. That changed everything. When you begin to feel your mortality you get serious about your priorities. You know, Fay, a brand new start keeps us young!
So that’s the secret. I can see that the same-old/same-old can make us feel pretty old as our feet dig the ruts.
I loved the eclectic family that you have gathered around you. Your arms were opened to bring others into the fold. Knowing you as an intensely private person from the previous novel, I’m interested in knowing what you found the most difficult about dealing with this new situation?
Doesn’t life have a way of bringing situations to your doorstep you never thought you could handle? Being an introvert, having people around me all the time exhausted me. I used a lot of energy biting my tongue! I didn’t want to be a lecturing mother and a crabby wife, so I tried very hard to keep perspective on the situation. Trying hard only gets you so far, though. I really learned to pray for grace during the time we lived in the Glass House. And I have to say, when I began to see things from the point of view of the young people, it was very energizing. I loved hearing about their hopes and dreams.
Your story comes to us from the 1960s, a turbulent time in our nation’s history. Two members of your family group are not American citizens when they come to live with you, but despite the escalation of the war in Vietnam and the possibility of a draft, they make plans to become citizens. This was mentioned briefly, but as the parental figure of the group, how did you feel about the draft that possibly loomed ahead and how it would change their lives?
I lived through the war years and married a soldier, so to my way of thinking military service is a privilege, a price we pay for freedom. Being from Israel, David understands this. And Danny’s Basque heritage is a culture of resistance against a government that tried to suppress his native language. They both believe that freedom is worth fighting for. But you are right. These boys are like my sons. No mother wants to watch her sons go off to war, especially this war. I really don’t understand why we are in Vietnam. I’m not pleased about the possibility that they might get drafted, but I love my country. I believe in the American Dream, and I’m proud they both made the choice to become citizens.
Your friend, Laura, refers to you as a lyre to the lambs you have gathered around you. I’d love it if you’d share a little more about this with us. It’s a captivating thought.
I discovered my heritage and faith late in life, I take seriously my responsibility to pass down family and faith traditions so the generations that come after me will know who they are.. Laura knows the Bible better than I do. When she shared with me how David played the lyre to soothe Saul, my artist’s eye could visualize fingers plucking strings in an effort to communicate through music what words sometimes cannot. God’s message of peace and love plays out in art, nature, and music. Laura helped me see that although I don’t always say the right things, young people flocked tour home because we made it a soothing, safe place for them to grow. We made the sounds of family, and they came.
That is a lovely thought and a beautiful picture. As your little family began to grow, it seemed things outside their control began to erode the situation. Your new husband, Roger, shared a verse in Psalms. Would you mind sharing that verse and what it means to you in light of all of the troubles that begin to exist around you?
Yes, of course. Psalm 121:1. I like the King James translation,” I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my hope.” When we wrap ourselves in our woes we fail to see the hope and the future that is there for us. It is an act of will to broaden our perspective on a bad situation. Roger had to take me out on the patio and point me in the direction of the hills I love to pull me out of my funk and help me take the long view. Despite the mounting stress of our situation we knew there would be justice because God is faithful and good. I needed to keep plucking along, living a life that sent out messages of hope and love. You know, I almost missed the fact that in the midst of trouble, my husband moved closer to the Lord!
Dee, again, thank you so much for sharing your life with the readers. I enjoyed both of the novels so much, and I look forward to the interview with your author, Sydney Avey, on Wednesday.
More About The Lyre and the Lambs:
A feast of family can be a plate-load of problems!
It’s the Sixties. Modernity and tradition clash as two newlywed couples set up house together. Dee and her daughter Valerie move with their husbands into a modern glass house Valerie built in a proudly rural Los Altos, California neighborhood. When their young relatives start showing up and moving in, the neighbors get suspicious. Then a body is found in the backyard and the life they are trying to build comes undone.
Father Mike is back to guide Dee through a difficult time with humor and grace, even as his own life is unraveling. Now he’s going to have to take some of his own advice about love.
The Lyre and the Lambs explores the passions that draw people together and the faith it takes to overcome trauma.
Sydney Avey lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a lifetime of experience writing news for non profits and corporations. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Foliate Oak, Forge, American Athenaeum, and Unstrung (published by Blue Guitar Magazine) and Ruminate. She has studied at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Sydney is the author of two novels, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter and The Lyre and the Lambs. She blogs at sydneyavey.com on topics related to relationships, legacy, faith, and the writing life.