One of the coolest things about being a writer is meeting and becoming friends with other writers. It’s an energizing, uplifting group of people who are always learning, always growing, always reaching for the next star. I met Faith at my husband’s high school reunion decades ago–they both went to The American School of Kinshasa. Faith and I hit it off and immediately started talking about writing. Through the years, we’ve kept in touch, swapped critiques and beta reading of manuscripts, and celebrated the launch of each book. It has been an honor to witness Faith’s author journey.
Faith Eidse, PhD, recently won two medals from Florida Authors and Publishers Association for her Kingsbury-Award memoir, Deeper than African Soil, which reveals the adventure and suffering of growing up among worlds in Congo, Canada and the US. Her novel, Healing Falls, was inspired by six years volunteering in women’s prisons with mothers separated from their children. She, too, was separated from her family during revolution not knowing if they were safe or alive. She co-edited two memoir collections on growing up global, Unrooted Childhoods and Writing Out of Limbo, which became Princeton textbooks. Eidse won Florida’s oral history of 2007 for Voices of the Apalachicola, and published her parents’ oral history, Light the World. She has taught writing in workshops and at FSU, Barry and Keiser universities for over 25 years.
Faith’s most recent book, Deeper than African Soil: An honest recollection of growing up as a Missionary ‘Third Culture Kid,’ unveils the struggles and grit of a child raised among worlds amid revolution, disease, boarding school trauma, wrenching farewells and losses deeper than most people endure in a lifetime. Faith and her sisters—Hope, Charity and Grace—lived vivid lives, bridging cultures from their home (Dutch Mennonite) to their host villages in Congo, Canada and the U.S. “Third culture kids” form identity from all cultures they relate to. They have their own enriched, complicated story but share a diaspora of the heart and longing for home.
What inspired you to become a writer?
About once a month, the jungle plane would land near our remote village in southwestern Congo where Mom ran clinics and Dad translated the Bible with his team of storytellers. Letters would arrive from my cousins in Canada describing blizzards, ice-skating and snow forts. I would write back about the python stretched out on our front lawn digesting a lump. The school director next door counted his chickens and found one missing. He came over with his machete, chopped the snake in half and pulled out his chicken to put in his own pot. Life was so bizarre and crazy I knew I needed to write my stories. Plus, I had a captive audience, huddled under blankets on winter nights!
Do you plot, or fly by the seat of your pants, or something in-between?
I gestate, carrying stories around like growing embryos, which reveal themselves over time. I develop them in my dreams or wake and journal; wash dishes or bake a cake; clean toilets or walk the neighborhood. Stories and books take time. You’re creating something out of thin air, forming whole characters and worlds out of nothing but ether, caffeine and forward or backward motion.
Okay, so you’re an author, but what is your alter ego?
I’m the grandma of a lovely child, Morgan Amelia, nearly one, born and raised in Sweden. This makes her a third culture kid, forming her identity from bits of home and host cultures to create a unique third culture. She (or we) fly trans-Atlantic several times a year, which means she’s living a life of enrichment and adventure she can’t experience in a classroom. This feels like the fulfillment of my first publishing impulse—to produce a collection of essays about growing up among worlds.