Laurie Van Dermark spends her week-ends working two 12-hour shifts in the ultrasound department.
In her free time she loves to write and has a special place in her heart for charities, especially ONE, Partners in Health and Friends of Chimbote. Van Dermark put her love for writing to good use by writing her first novel — The Battered Heiress Blues — that was recently released.
Van Dermark’s life is full of interesting tidbits; she’s lived in New Zealand, traveled to Chimbote, Peru in 2000 as a missionary to learn about the social and political misdoings that contribute to poverty and adopted two children from Guatemala. Now, she is writing her second novel.
All of these life adventures have influenced her writing.
“Absolutely they have,” says Van Dermark, a Newnan, Ga., native who has worked at UAB since June 2010. “Portions of the book take place in Chimbote where I do missionary work. That was a place I could use as a backdrop for the book where I could highlight the violence and different things that occur there near the mission.”
|The Battered Heiress Blues is the winner of the 2012 New York Book Festival Award/Romance.|
Van Dermark recently spoke to The Reporter about her job, her book, her family and her passion to help the poor.
Q. What’s appealing about the ultrasound department?
A. I am honored to work under the best radiologists in the country. Their knowledge and guidance serves to elevate my job performance. The Baylor shift also provides the flexibility I need to write during the week.
Q. What made you decide to be a sonographer?
A. The practice of sonography changes daily and is extremely operator-dependent. Today’s sonographer must possess a high level of skill in order to provide exam details that can successfully aid in properly diagnosing a patient. I enjoy these daily challenges.
Q. What took you to New Zealand, and how was life there?
A. Adventure. I was fortunate enough to be granted permanent residency status when I moved to Tauranga, New Zealand. The country is beautiful beyond words! The kiwi lifestyle is vastly different from how we live in the states. We are a bit more like hamsters on a wheel compared to their family-focused, casual approach to enjoying life. Americans tend to work hard/work hard. Kiwis tend to work hard/play hard.
Q. OK, spill it — what’s the secret to writing a great novel?
A. A great novel is the result of an inspired author.
Q. The story’s main character is philanthropist Julia Spencer. Does she resemble you?
A. We are kindred spirits in our love and compassion for the poor and our thirst for social justice. “Jewels” may be a bit more direct than me, but I’ve never suffered from meekness.
Q. How did your trip to Chimbote, Peru, influence you?
A. The conditions in which the global poor live are outrageous. I was appalled to see large families crowded into one-room estera shacks with dirt floors, no electricity or running water and very little food to share. The poor have limited to no access to medical care or education. Father Jack Davis oversees Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chimbote and has been instrumental in soliciting medical missions from various teaching hospitals to attend to the needs of the poor. Governments must be held accountable for the conditions that they allow their citizens to endure. We are all responsible as equal heirs in this life that we’ve been granted.
Q. Did these trips influence your decision to adopt?
A. I traveled to Guatemala to be united with my son several months before my first trip to Chimbote. Choosing adoption is a very sacred decision — a calling. A good number of the children at orphanages are not actually considered adoptable. They are left for a period of time so that their parents can leave to find work.
Q. Why are you a supporter of ONE, Partners in Health and Friends of Chimbote?
A. ONE aims to fight extreme poverty through trade reform and policy changes by urging members to apply political pressure to those who legislate. PIH believes that all people should receive medical care regardless of social standing, ability to pay or the simple unfortunate consequence of being born in an oppressed region. Friends of Chimbote raises funds to support a medical clinic, a shelter for battered women, a drug rehabilitation center, a hospice and provide mission jobs and school tuition. A slideshow of Chimbote and links to the charities I support can be found on my website, www.laurievandermark.com.
Q. Where is the book for sale?
A. The Battered Heiress Blues is available at Amazon.com, Kindle and all major book retailers. Thanks for the support. I appreciate my UAB family.