Based on a true story, Defiance and Redemption, A Lifetime of Unbroken Bonds, brings to life the joys, dramas, and triumphs of two sisters, Eva and Victoria Alisio and their loyal friend Marta.
The sisters are raised by their atheist Grandfather Marcus and religious Grandmother Maria Luisa. Eva, a proud and strong-willed young woman defies her family, society, and culture, faces scandal and disgrace, for her forbidden love affair. Victoria finds herself in the center of a multigenerational conflict as her benefactor bestows a great inheritance on her excluding the rightful heirs. Marta, loyal to the childhood bond with the Alisio sisters, brings humor and support to their twists and turns of fortune. The young women’s bond of love, and perseverance, carries them through ordinary and extraordinary losses, triumphs, and ultimately to their destiny in the United States.
An important novel about 20th Century women, Defiance and Redemption, is an absorbing epic that moves through decades and destinies. It blends personal and historical events into a collective tale of self-determination, love, and sisterhood.
1. Please, tell us what from the true story determined you to write “Defiance and Redemption” and how much from the real story could be found in your fictional one?
The story is based on true life characters that were in my family. This is especially true for the three female characters who are lifelong friends. Those three women were close for 80 years! They lived into their 90s and died a few years apart. This fiction novel covers the first third of their lives. At first, I wrote it because many in my family knew little about how they were raised, what happened to them in their youth, how they close and why they came to America.
Then gradually, it became a novel which describe their development into young adults. At the age of sixteen my mother fell in love with a national swimming champion and they had an affair. Afterwards she found herself pregnant and he abandoned her. She was unwilling to give her baby up as the adults around her insisted. A young woman with a child out of wedlock was not accepted by her society, culture or religion. Moreover, it catapulted her out of the position her family held in the society and it brought shame and disgrace to them as well as to the main character, “Eva” who was based on my mother. These are truths about the real story which the fiction narrates. She experienced hardship but kept her head up. This was an inspiration for her sister and friend and they stuck together when other challenges came up for all three women. Eventually, the three decided to leave their country and come to America where there were more opportunities for women to determine their own lives. The way they interacted with each other was amusing to me. Especially the relationship between Eva and her friend Marta in the story. My mother was the younger of the two. She was mischievous, strong willed, confident and playful.
Marta was more serious, cautious, less confident and impressed by her daring friend.
2. In your opinion, which are the main differences between the 20th Century and the 21st Century woman? Are the challenges different for the 21st Century women in comparison with their mothers and grandmothers?
20th Century women were taught to believe their primary worth was as wives and mothers. For the most part, education was not wasted on women. The novel takes place in Ecuador and that small country gave women the right to vote before American women received it. Yet, like American women in the 20th century many women didn’t do much with their vote because the emphasis was being a homemaker and the idea was their husbands would focus on politics. Yet, there were women like Eva. the protagonist in my story, who questions these biases against women and the misogny that was oppressive to women’s ability to determine their own lives and have a voice in the law. Those kinds of women who were our mothers, grandmothers, great aunts etc were the first feminists without their knowing it. They broke ceilings for the generation of women to come just by defying the conventional views about women at that time.
Today, women in America and Ecuador have the right to education and to the vote. They have more freedom to choose their own way of life. Still, around the world many countries still have oppressive and misogynistic views about women which limit their lives. Even in America, women are still fighting for the same equal pay for equal work that men receive. They are still fighting political forces that would take away their right over their body, and there are forces that would push women back into the kitchen if allowed to! In many other parts of the world women are suffering under oppressive political, legal, religious or cultural views.
3. How the psychotherapist gets along with the writer? What are the advantages and eventual disadvantages of such a professional mix?
I was a writer before I was a psychotherapist and story telling comes easy for me. I studied literature before psychology and they are cousins in a sense because both seek to understand the behavior behind the characters before them. But fortunately I don’t have to “treat” the aberrant behavior of my characters. I just describe them without judgement and let them live their lives. As a literature student I studied the symbolism authors use in books to leave clues about events of character so sometimes I purposely do that. Other times, I read over something I wrote and find the clues are there but I left them unconsciously.
4. You write for both children and adults. How different is it to write for children and what do you do to attract young readers?
Fantasy and play are central to the world of children. That means anything is possible so in my stories animals and insects talk and discuss issues about for example in Youngen Finds Her Song, aging and war and those strange creatures known as “humans.” I like to inject humor in children’s stories because I enjoy laughing with children when I read to them.
I also thinks its valuable to share knowledge with kids so some of my stories are about the fact that insects may not be pretty but they have an important purpose on the planet and I let them know about that in a few stories and also about the awesomeness of nature.
Because I hope they will grow up to be kind, I write about animals whether a cat (Jennifer Magicum) or a dog (Scrapper’s Christmas Story) so that they will feel compassion for our four footed friends who may end up in their families.
I believe the invisible world runs the material world so I like to include that in my work. That means spirit lives in all things and even angels may exist!
5. In one of your author descriptions, you say “My books encourage literacy, self-growth, and a global community that respects life.” What types of readings would you recommend to a younger reader?
If you are referring to my books, I already mentioned some in the former question but if you refer to other authors, I like Brian Swimme’s book, The Universe is a Green Dragon which is a conversation between a young person and a wise elder about the awesome creativity suffusing the universe. It is a way to share the wonder of life and respect for the global community.
For Self Growth, I also like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books for various age groups Preteens and older.
In terms of literacy. I fell in love with words as a youngster by hearing limericks so I like books that play with words in rhyme like the Dr. Seuss’s books. My favorite is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who which honors literacy and community. These books which rhyme are wonderful to encourage reading.
6. Do you have a message for our ladies readers? And one for the gentlemen?
I would say to both ladies and gentlemen to read more! Many people have told me that listening to the news in the evening affect them emotionally and their ability to sleep. I think if you use that time to read whatever genre of books you like you will keep growing as a person in interesting ways, learn more about yourself and others, and learn more about the world around you.
Thank you Cremona & George for your valuable questions!
"Reading Defiance and Redemption reminded me of a distant time when I read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Like these writers, Maria Andrade took me through a captivating journey of love and deep passion. Being gripped by the strong emotions that the characters possess and what they did in the end moved me profoundly." - Maria Donovan, Retired Verizon Executive
"In Defiance and Redemption, Maria Andrade weaves together history, biography, and fiction into a romantic love and a story of three women that defy the ability of patriarchal culture to define them. We see the young women grow up to rise above the shame that tries to silence and limit them. They learn to find their voices and make sacrifices to be true to themselves as women. They leave behind all that they knew to make a better life for themselves and their daughters. This is a book to remind women of all ages where we came from, and what it took to break out and thrive nearly a century ago. Women like these paved the way for all who came after and have the rights we have today." - Nancy Poitou, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
About the author:
Maria J. Andrade was born in Ecuador, South America, and raised in New York and California. She has a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. As a licensed therapist and writer, Maria has been diving into other people’s minds and her own, through dreams, poetry, and books for over three decades. She traveled with the Four Winds Society where she studied and was initiated into Andean shamanism in 1990.
Before Maria retired as a therapist, she specialized in women’s issues and founded the Wise Women’s Circle a ritualistic and transpersonal study group that continues today. The women support each other through life’s challenges and in the growth of mind, body, and spirit.
Maria Andrade’s books for children and adults is found in a variety of genres. This is an unforgettable first novel that reflects her imagination and creative storytelling.
Defiance and Redemption is her latest release.
Visit her website or connect with her!