A look at the works of Surf City author Deb Bowen.
Author Deb Bowen sees love and humility in places where others might see pain and darkness. Her first book, A Good Friend for Bad Times: Helping Others through Grief was born out of her experiences.
“That book was a very long thank you note to the people who did it right when my parents died,” Bowen says. “I realized then that folks don’t know what to do or say or not to do when others are grieving. So, this book is to help friends and relatives of the grieving.”
The book offers suggestions for helping your friends cope as death approaches and includes special considerations for death by catastrophe and helping children cope with death. A section also offers advice to help grieving pet owners. The book sold well and is available in print or electronic versions. Susan Strickler, Bowen’s co-author, was the bereavement coordinator for the Lower Cape Fear Lifecare. The book, published by a Lutheran press, was translated into German for overseas sales.
Bowen and local artist Marybeth Bradbury are continuing an earlier collaboration.
“I wrote the gallery cards for Marybeth’s Martyrs and Legends show in Wilmington last year, and we’ve decided to revamp those and create a book of her paintings and my descriptions,” Bowen says.
Recent works, however, celebrate the natural world, the world at the center of Bowen’s heart.
Her short story, Taking Up a Poundin’ published in County Lines: A Literary Journal of the Franklin County Arts Council Writers Guild, Vol. 8, 2021, invites readers to cherish true connection among neighbors, a way of life now gone and to honor what family really means.
Her forthcoming book, co-authored with artist Claire Gelder, travels though the four seasons of the year and the cross-quarter days – the days between the seasons that our ancestors celebrated. Cross-quarter days were part of Celtic, Mayan, First Nations and Japanese Luni-Solar calendars. The Celtic and traditional Japanese usages are more astronomically correct, says astronomer Richard Pogge. Today the cross-quarter days are known as Ground Hog Day (Imbolc or Candlemas), May Day (Beltane), Lammas (Lughnasadh) and Halloween (Samhain or All Soul’s Day).
“Claire is creating craft and art ideas that will allow you to connect more deeply with the seasons, and I am writing about what the seasons and cross-quarter days mean,” Bowen says. The book is due out in 2024.
Bowen’s essay “Mending Nets” published last November in Salvation South, may appear to the reader as a wonderful childhood memory, but a deeper read shows the loss of a way of life that is fast disappearing in many coastal areas. The destruction of coastal environments also drives her novel.
“My novel in progress is an environmental murder mystery with an underlying notion of how we become more aware of, and dedicated to, preserving coastal environments,” Bowen says. “I love this place with all my heart. I am an old beach girl. I love my home and I am grateful for the environment that raised me.”
The beach captured her heart with the ways of the coast, but her love for the natural world took her far inland, where she spent several summers learning on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Her writing helps her sort through her thoughts and make sense of randomness.
“The Lakota words Mitakuye Oyasin mean that we are all related and that there is no hierarchy among all beings,” she says. “I write because Earth needs us to write. It is the only way I know that I am capable of standing up for her. I want her saved. I want her saved for the fish and whales and the seagrass and the maritime forest and for all beings who love her.”
Want to read more?
Deb’s Bowen’s thoughts about the natural world, see debbowen.com/author/