Thursday, 03 October 2019 "Without intention, faith emerged onto the page..." Lauren H. Brandenburg on her new book, The Death of Mungo Blackwell

Blog | Author Interviews

The Death of Mungo Blackwell is Lauren H. Brandenburg's invitation to all of us to enjoy whimsy and fantasy without losing touch with truth or reality.

”As clearly as I saw the Lord emerging between the lines, I saw myself – childlike, fun, a bit sporadic. The person I had wanted to hide spilled out in larger than life adventure and colorful macarons.”

In this blogpost Lauren H. Brandenburg shares the primary motivation behind her writing: her faith. Although she always knew she had a story worth telling, The Death of Mungo Blackwell threw up some surprises along the way.


"Faith is such a huge part of who I am, my decisions, reactions, and simply how I think and exist, but it wasn’t until Mungo that I found contentment in who God made me to be.

"When I set out to write The Death of Mungo Blackwell, I challenged myself to write with God instead of about him. I have to admit, I struggled with this, wondering if I was making some sort of blasphemous mistake. I had always thought I would tell the story of our “Rooning” (the financial fall my husband and I experienced in 2008 as a high-income earning family who seemingly overnight found themselves grateful recepients of our church food pantry handouts) in a rather serious literary exposé of what really happened to many American families during this time. That was the plan. However, I found myself telling our story through the eyes of Charlie and Velveteen Price, mixing in glimpses of characters from tales of family members long gone and adding bits and pieces of childhood memories. (Let’s just say, there’s a lot of Blackwell in my upbringing… shotguns, grannys, and pickled eggs.)

"Mungo was looking different than expected. At first I wondered where God was amongst all those words, if maybe I should drop in a bit of religion, possibly a scripture or two. But without intention, faith emerged onto the paper as I wrote resilience in marriage, forgiveness, and provision. I wrote love, faith, friendships, and family (Oh how I love family!). And I wrote laughter. Throughout the drafting process I would read back over a scene and laugh, thinking, That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written! I quickly realised God must have an interesting sense of humor.

"That’s when I began to see him. He was there, nestled in my fictional world of Coraloo, unassuming, as real as the one writing with me. And I began to see myself differently, not as the dignified writer I wanted to be, but as the writer I was created to be.

"I was excited, eager to delight adult readers with whimsy, pulling them into innocence without surpressing the truths of reality. As clearly as I saw the Lord emerging between the lines, I saw myself – childlike, fun, a bit sporadic. The person I had wanted to hide spilled out in larger than life adventure and colorful macarons. And God was there, revealing me, never leaving my side just as he had been there during our “Rooning” and just as he was there while I penned The Death of Mungo Blackwell."

Lauren H. Brandenburg brings to life the surreal world of Coraloo, inhabited by eccentric and marvelous characters. To find out more about the author and read her blog, check out her website.

The Death of Mungo Blackwell is also among five Lion Hudson titles to be nominated for the People's Book Prize - vote here!

Read an extract by using the widget below.