Returning to writing after a long hiatus, Carmel Valley author Mariah McIntyre Sharkey-Brumund released her first novel “Omnipotent,” a story about a 12-year-old girl who escapes from the common pressures children face by entering a portal into a new, mysterious world.
The protagonist, Cassandra, who regularly has seizures, questions whether her parents, doctors and religion hold as much power over her life as she was raised to believe. Through her journey, she learns self-empowerment.
“I think it gives kids hope,” said Sharkey-Brumund, who was passionate about writing before her parents encouraged her to pursue a career in nursing while she was a student at the University of Notre Dame.
Over the course of about five years, while still working as a nurse, she wrote the first draft. The story, which is geared toward children from ages 8 to 12, incorporated a few of her favorite subjects and themes: children, dogs, ballet and feminist theology. In the story, Cassandra undertakes the journey with her dog.
“I wanted to put a book out there that was positive, that was meaningful for kids, that hopefully made them laugh along the way,” she said.
Today, Sharkey-Brumund said, children “are asked to do more and more,” and face pressures such as getting the highest grades in their classes and being the best at sports.
“I think it’s a really accelerated world from the childhood I grew up in,” she added, noting that they don’t quite have the same community-centric upbringing from generations past. “There are many benefits to that. I think it’s fantastic how we can be connected with people far and near in a different way and in a virtual way.”
Sharkey-Brumund asked 13 children within her target age-range to read the book. Each one wrote a blurb. One said it was a “great, emotional book”; another said it “transports me right into the main character’s shoes from page one”; and a third said it was “an insightful book of sixth graders coming of age.”
The book was published by Archway Publishing, which offers authors a way to self-publish their work with a variety of marketing and publicity options. Sharkey-Brumund said she tried publishing the book through the traditional process, but received 22 rejections before deciding on Archway.
“That process was interesting, challenging,” she said. “I certainly have learned a lot.”
After 20 years as a nurse, Sharkey-Brumund is now focusing on her writing. She took care of her father for the last seven years of his life, then her husband suggested she might be happier staying home with the kids and reigniting her passion for writing.
“I thought he was crazy when he first suggested that, and that I would never do that because I loved, loved my work,” she said.
Her career as a nurse included 10 years with the local VA in anesthesia.
Sharkey-Brumund has lived in Carmel Valley with her husband and three children, for about 13 years.
“Omnipotent,” which was released on March 6, is available on Amazon. For more information, visit authormariah.com.