Today’s guest post is by Hannah McMahan. Hannah is homeschooled along with her three younger siblings. She lives on Copper Island in Barkley Sound, B.C., Canada where her family maintains a summer camp for First Nations children and youth. Hannah loves to worship God through music, draw and paint nature, spend time with people, and read historical fiction novels. She will go to a Christian facility on another island off the coast of Canada for further education in the fall.
This is one of Hannah’s term papers for the year. She has the promise to be a good writer.
All authors’ lives shape what they write.
Sometimes authors do not realize that who they are is directly related to their writing. Authors experiences, worldviews, cultures, and even time-periods they live in influence how they write. (Haberling 167)
All types of writing, including non-fiction and historical fiction, are affected by who authors are. When authors write nonfiction, their various points of view of facts on the same topic may be expressed differently. (Haberling 316) These distinct expressions of facts are because of varying mindsets and knowledge that different authors possess. The specific tones and goals Mrs. Lampos brings to her writing enrich her work and make it unique.
Mrs. Lampos is passionate about writing because it is a way of reaching out to people. When Mrs. Lampos was struggling as a young person, biographies of young people who overcame difficulties helped her to overcome her own difficulties. Teachers reached out to her, supported her, and prayed for her throughout her childhood. (Lampos, Children 89) The impression teachers had on Mrs. Lampos’ life led to her compassion as a teacher toward her own students. Mrs. Lampos was a school teacher for emotionally disturbed/behavior disordered youth for 26 years. (Lampos, Laurel) She made a difference in the lives of her students.
Mrs. Lampos had a tough childhood.
She explained, “When my mother remarried when I was seven, she did not know that my stepfather would slide into a life of alcoholism and anger. Unemployed most of the time, he never had money for even the basics of life at times.” (Lampos, Friend) Growing up with a father who led a life of anger and alcohol gave Mrs. Lampos the confidence to overcome challenging situations with the 10 to 12-year-old students in her classroom. Mrs. Lampos shares with others how God has used these “not fun” experiences to prepare her to help others. (Lampos, Friend)
Mrs. Lampos used her own past experiences to write.
She portrayed a situation in her book, A Mother’s Love, where there is brokenness, pain, and fear caused by living in a family with unemployment and drinking. Mrs. Lampos followed a young girl through the long-term effects that living in those circumstances had on her life, including going on an orphan train. Mrs. Lampos expressed the compassion God has given her for children needing rescuing through the story of the young girl. Mrs. Lampos used real-life tough situations as resources to inform and encourage others in her fictional depiction of the orphan trains.
Mrs. Lampos has struggled with abandonment issues and making attachments because she says she feels ‘like they will go away.’ (Lampos, Friend) Her biological father died when she was four years old. Her 18-year-old brother left for the army soon after. Mrs. Lampos went through foster care, changed schools, and lived in different states. Moving from state to state “intensified a pattern of isolation and insecurity for the family,” Mrs. Lampos wrote. (Lampos, Laurel)
Mrs. Lampos writes about the topic of homelessness and orphans in many of her books. She seems to find stories of orphans and ‘hone in on them’ (Lampos, Friend). God is working through the brokenness of Mrs. Lampos’ childhood as He puts it on her heart to share amazing stories of lost and abandoned waifs who are given life and purpose.
Mrs. Lampos was able to enrich her book, Dust Between the Stitches, by using a setting she lived in for the first seven years of her life; Colorado! She does not remember much from those early years, but she says that the dust storms did not seem significant because it was “just the way things were.” (Lampos, Friend) Mrs. Lampos’ mother told her stories about what life was like during the dust bowl. She also had eight years of letters about ordinary life from the 1930’s. She says the letters were, “a great insight into the fears, problems, and hopes of the common person of that era. Priceless.” (Lampos, Friend) These resources helped Mrs. Lampos to get a firmer grasp on what it would have been like to live in Colorado during the great depression.
Not only does her childhood influence how Mrs. Lampos writes today, but her years of teaching do as well. Many of the novels she writes have main characters who are school teachers. She shows how good teachers must be courageous, relate to their students, and encourage them to beat the odds of their past. (Lampos, Song 158)
Mrs. Lampos was able to relate to foster kids that she taught and help teach children who went through traumatic experiences. Sometimes she had dangerous, adrenaline-rush situations. (Lampos, Friend) She had different experiences every day. Some of the children she taught were abused at home and some witnessed shootings and death of family members. Speaking of her students, Mrs. Lampos said, “These kids aren’t really interested in spelling every word correctly or adding a sum of numbers. They just want to survive.” (Lampos, Friend)
Many aspects of Mrs. Lampos’ life impact her writing. Not only physical aspects such as personal experiences, locations she has lived, and her job. Her mindset, worldview, and passions seem to guide what she puts on paper.
Mrs. Lampos is passionate about writing and speaking.
She enjoys creating the plot and characters. In my opinion, this enjoyment shines through the pages of her books as you read relatable and emotionally charged narratives. Mrs. Lampos also loves the research part of it, sometimes even more than the actual writing! (Lampos, Friend) She can express subjects she cares about, such as orphans and history, through writing and speaking. She teaches and encourages groups, students, and churches with these stories. (Lampos, Children 89-90)
Mrs. Lampos describes how God uses the heart He has given her through her work, “God has given me a heart of compassion and it is expressed in my writing and speaking ministries.” (Lampos, Friend) She is not alone in having a passion for writing. She summarizes this by saying, “Writing has opened up a world of people that I feel ‘one with’ because we love words and what they can do.” (Lampos, Friend)
If there is one thing that reoccurs more than any other when you read her historical novels, it is stories of orphans or abandoned and needy children. Mrs. Lampos used a real example of poverty, boys sleeping on rooftops because they had no place to stay, both in her non-fiction book, Rescuing Children, and her historical fiction novel, A Mother’s Song. She did not just highlight the giddy and cheerful aspects of children getting placed in loving homes. Many families who received children from the orphan trains wanted them more for chores than to love and cherish them.
In the first part of A Mother’s Song, Mrs. Lampos delves into the heart of a mother who, during the great depression, gave her children up for a better chance at life. “No mother should lose her child because there is no food, no housing, no job, no dignity.” (Lampos, Song 118) Mrs. Lampos writes through Ava Rose’s point of view in the second part of A Mother’s Song about how it is a struggle with not fitting in because of being adopted. It also portrays the tug on Ava Rose’s heart toward both her birth family and adoptive family as being tough to deal with. Mrs. Lampos portrays how the children from the orphan trains, including Ava Rose, longed to be loved and valued but despised pity.
Each story in Mrs. Lampos’ book, Rescuing Children, allows your mind to glimpse what it may have been like to stand up for justice in the past. This exposes how important it is to fight to protect orphans and waifs in the present. It appears that Mrs. Lampos writes about tough historical topics because her passion to research and learn about these circumstances drives her.
Mrs. Lampos writes about both the beauty and the horror of the past.
She gives details not just on the wealthy controlling factors of the time, but she also writes about the foreclosing homesteaders, immigrants “scratching out a living.” (Lampos, Dust 177), and the communities without hope wishing for a second chance. Mrs. Lampos is fervent about revealing the injustice of the past to convict others about what we can do about those in need in the present.
Mrs. Lampos portrays how the hope for a better life never happened when the Irish came to America.
Too many immigrants came, and not enough jobs were available. The jobless and hopeless men got drunk instead. Mrs. Lampos tells the unfair stories of Hoovervilles, Orphan trains, and Residential Schools. Her heart breaks for all the injustice and she shares the heartbreak with others through her writing.
Mrs. Lampos is grateful that when her audience reads about history they also read about faith in Jesus. Her novels contain lessons on how to walk in faith. She hopes people will be encouraged to “hang in there.” (Lampos, Friend) Each chapter in Rescuing Children is different, but the biographies all have a distinct similarity. Each story contains an individual who, in their own unique calling, rescues children. Each chapter shows how important it is to make a difference, in one small way at a time. Mrs. Lampos’ worldview builds upon her writing to make it not only entertaining, but God-honoring as well.
When Deirdre, the mother in Mrs. Lampos’ book, A Mother’s Song, was discouraged, her neighbor said, “We are at war Deirdre. Satan wants to distract, discourage, and destroy our relationship with God.” (Lampos, Song 25) The neighbor then went on to explain that God was and is with Deirdre. Deirdre gave her heart to God and though her circumstances remained the same, her heart was changed.
An analogy used by one of Mrs. Lampos’ characters in A Mother’s Song is that we are quilts. God takes us, tattered and torn, and makes our scraps beautiful. (Lampos, Song 163) She also illustrates that God is the Father we need when our earthly father cannot give us the love we long for. In Dust Between the Stitches, one of Mrs. Lampos’ characters, Addy, goes through hard times. With her family by her side, Addy learns that Jesus is really with her and cares about her. Addy’s grandmother said, “Don’t pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless when facing them.” Each of these instances from her books reflect Mrs. Lampos’ worldview and construct the storylines with truth and meaning.
Mrs. Lampos says her life did not turn out the way she would have planned it, but she does not regret her tough past experiences because…
“The experiences of early years created this writer who delves into the issues of child rescuing and second chances.” (Lampos, Laurel) God gave Mrs. Lampos passions and abilities to glorify him. He prepared her for the difference she is making in people’s lives today. Who Mrs. Lampos is and thus who Jesus is shines through the paper-thin pages of her books.
I have really enjoyed dialoguing with Mrs. Lampos and getting insight into both her books and her life. I have had the chance to dig deeper into her books than I would have if I had just been reading for pleasure. Through this study on Mrs. Lampos’ books I have gained a better understanding of how God can use me in ways I do not even know yet and that he has a unique purpose for me to minister to others.
Lampos, Cleo. “Hello to a Canadian Friend.”
Lampos, Cleo. Dust Between the Stitches. Penoaks Publishing, http://penoaks.com, 2016.
Lampos, Cleo. Rescuing Children: Teachers, Social Workers, Nuns and Missionaries Who
Stepped in the Shadows to Rescue Waifs. Illustrated by Kaeley Clark, 17 October 2016.
Lampos, Cleo. A Mother’s Song. www.cleolampos.com, 11 May 2017.
Lampos, Cleo. “Growing Stories from Personal Hardships.” Laurel’s Leaves. Posted by Laurel
Garver Thursday, March 01, 2018. Laurelgarver.blogspot.ca/2018/03/growing-stories-
Haberling, Jen. The Complete Middle School Study Guide: Everything You Need to Ace
English Language Arts In Big Fat Notebook. Copyright 2016 by Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
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