Mystery Mondays: Mary Clark on Exploring Family Dynamics

This week on Mystery Mondays, author Mary Clark is here to talk about her laster novel, Racing The Sun.

Over to Mary…

Exploring Family Dynamics

by Mary Clark

My latest book, Racing The Sun, is interwoven with surprises, some gently delivered, others more brutal. In several cases, accidents change lives. They also bring together people who wouldn’t have otherwise met. The main character, Leila Payson, a Miami high school teacher, finds that occupation not precarious enough; she moves through the world stirring things up, but not with careless force, but instead at a thoughtful pace. But the world has its surprises for her, too. And these come from close to home.

Her father has been looking into his family history at the suggestion of a life coach (who may be more than that). He shows Leila his DNA results and urges her to sign up on the same genealogy site and take the test as well. She’s interested in finding out about her mother’s line. But then her busy life intervenes and she doesn’t think about this much.

One day she receives an email that her test results are in.

On the site an icon flashed saying she had a hundred and forty notices of DNA matches. The first message said, Hello, our DNA tests say we’re related. Closely related. Get in touch with me if you want. Barb.

Leila wrote back: This is exciting. Who are your parents? Mine are Robert Payson and Kate Garrigus. I thought I knew all my close relatives.

The message came in later that day: Kate Garrigus was a good friend of my mother’s. My mother said she couldn’t have children, so she asked someone to be a surrogate for her. Did your mother ever say anything about this?

Well, no, she hadn’t. Leila asks where Barb lives and discovers it’s not far away. The two arrange to meet in a neutral place, and there Leila receives a great shock. Her understanding of her mother and their relationship changes forever.

With the advent of DNA tests, family secrets are being brought to light. This is one of the little mysteries in Racing The Sun. In this book, I attempt to explore the deep but subtle ways our lives change. That change is our responsibility: whether we let go of others, or reach out, whether we mask our pain, or work through it, whether we retreat from life with suspicion and hatred, or approach with curiosity and love. In our modern lives, change happens fast and almost continuously. Some of it is superficial, although alluring, which tries our ability to distinguish fact from fiction. Some change, though, is fundamental, and carries with it the mystery of our future lives.


Racing The Sun Book Cover SmallLeila and her friends are back with more adventures in this sequel to Miami Morning. Leila works to start her new group, bringing together people of varying abilities. She meets Doug, a paraplegic, who wants to design and build better wheelchairs.
Her relationship with Mark evolves, and she discovers both her father and mother have secret lives. Raoul, her former hearing-impaired student, is back. And so is Mrs. Grisjun, the combative guidance counselor.
Leila’s friend Dov goes to Cuba in search of his new love, the hunky bird guide, Nìco. Cran, the father of Leila’s friend Charles, and husband of the erstwhile Berry, loves his vintage cars. After a racing accident, his life takes a different course.
And when will Leila—inspired by Doug’s experience—first discover she is also racing the sun?

Who Is Mary Clark?

MaryClarkSept2010Mary A. Clark was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, to parents who lived on the Rutgers University campus. Her family moved to Florida, where she spent her formative years, and where she was infused with awe and respect for the natural world. She also became aware of the lives of migrant workers, segregation, and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Upon moving back to New Jersey, she completed high school near Plainfield and attended a county college before receiving a scholarship to Rutgers.

She graduated from Rutgers-Newark College of Arts and Sciences in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She had a strong sense of being a misfit, which propelled her to find her own place and occupation. She moved to New York City, and worked at the Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s Church, in the then outcast wilds of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. For many years she lived in Hell’s Kitchen and worked for community organizations. In 1993 she started a monthly community newspaper, combining her two loves: the neighborhood and writing.  Later she relocated to Florida, and then moved to Virginia where she lives with her mother and three rescue cats.

Her books include: Tally: An Intuitive Life, a creative memoir, and Miami Morning, a Leila Payson novel, both published by All Things That Matter Press. A novel-in-verse, Children of Light, is available on Kindle, published by BardPress/Ten Penny Players. Her poetry has appeared in The Archer, Jimson Weed (University of Virginia at Wise), and Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream. Some of her memoir, Into The Fire: A Poet’s Journey through Hell’s Kitchen, is online at Her blog is:, and her Facebook Author page:


7 thoughts on “Mystery Mondays: Mary Clark on Exploring Family Dynamics

  1. Kristina, lovely to see Mary on your blog discussing her book! Mary, secrets are the mainstay of most novels and yours is no exception delving into who we are, our relationships with our family, what really matters. A fascinating book!

    Liked by 1 person

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