I remember the day my copy of Angel in the Waters arrived. My boys were really "too big" for picture books, yet I still shared the treasure with them, trying to remain composed as we read aloud the prose and marveled at the illustrations.
Today, ten years later, Angel in the Waters still impacts me emotionally in this very same way. It's as though author Regina Doman has given us a peek into a place of great mystery. She has unlocked precious secrets to share how we, champions for life, feel inside. She's given us words to use with those who doubt or outright disbelieve. She's given us a tangible gift that can (and has!) changed hearts and minds on one of the most fundamental issues ever: the dignity of all human life.
I'm pleased today to share my recent email interview with Regina Doman to commemorate the tenth anniversary of something far more profound than just pages in a book. If it's been a while since you read Angel in the Waters, or if somehow you've never read it, make a point today to bring a copy of this book into your home, your parish and your child's classroom. Share it with others. It's a gift that deserves giving!
Q: Regina, congratulations on the beautiful new tenth anniversary of Angel in the Waters! Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
Well, I'm a Catholic wife, mother, author of about ten books, and editor of my own publishing house. Angel in the Waters is my only picture book, published with Sophia Institute Press, and it's my most successful book, period. I am amazed at how many lives this little picture book has touched.
Q: This edition brings a beautifully classic book into the hands of a new generation of readers. What helped you to conceive of this book and what do you hope readers will discover when they share it with their children?
I wrote the book nearly 20 years ago when I was expecting my first child (who is now a very tall boy of 19!). As I was thinking about the unborn baby, I remembered a story from my own family. My mom had ten children, and my last sister, Anna, was born when I was in college. Anna learned to talk very young, and once one of my sisters asked her if she remembered life in the womb. 10-month-old Anna said yes, she remembered being in mom's tummy. "What was it like?" my sister asked. Anna replied, "It was warm and dark, and there was an angel there."
Her words astonished us, and caused us to wonder, and when I was expecting my first baby about five years later, I remembered Anna's words, and I decided to write a story about a baby in his mother's womb talking to his guardian angel. I showed the story to my family, and we all loved it, but I couldn't interest a Catholic publisher in it. Then one day, I met an old classmate who was working for Sophia Institute Press, and he asked me if I had any children's books written (I was currently writing young adult fiction). I took out the manuscript, brushed it up, and emailed it to him. At the last minute, I typed the words, "The Angel in the Waters" on top as the title, a total inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
I emailed the manuscript in the morning. At lunch, they called me and said, "We want to publish this book. It will save babies' lives." I was floored, and I can tell you, that kind of quick acceptance NEVER happens in publishing.
Although I am pro-life and had written the book with a full understanding of the vulnerable personhood of the unborn child in today's society, I hadn't really thought that it would be a powerful pro-life message as to the humanity of the unborn child. It took the right publisher to realize that.
Q: Surely over the past ten years, you've had much feedback on Angel in the Waters from readers. Can you relay a story or two about how the book has been received and used by families, parishes, or schools?
I know the book has been used for many years in crisis pregnancy centers and in doctor's offices as well as a shower gift. But most of the time when people have thanked me for the book, they've thanked me in person, so I really don't have any stories in writing that I could share. But I would love to hear some of those stories!
So, in order to do that, I am holding a contest inviting people to share their story about how Angel in the Waters has impacted their lives or the lives of women or children that they know. If people want to email me their stories at email@example.com, I will be collecting stories until December 15th. I have three signed hardcover editions of Angel in the Waters that I will send as prizes to the three best stories. Feel free to send photos too! So please spread the word! The contest can also be entered at http://www.chestertonpress.com/angel-in-the-waters-anniversary-contest/
Q: Much has changed in the last ten years for you personally and professionally. What does this special edition mean to you as a wife, mother and writer at this point in your life?
As I said, the baby I was carrying in the womb when I wrote the book is now practically an adult! I now have been blessed with nine children (my latest, Cora, is only six months old!). My husband and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage by publishing our courtship story Our Fairy Tale Romance.
Nearly ten years ago, we were saddened by the loss of my little son Joshua in a car accident (www.joshua-michael.org) so there's been tragedy along the way as well. I still miss Joshua, and I am sure I always will. He would have become a teenager this year. But he's still very much a part of our family life: we ask for his prayers after every family rosary.
And I am taking a break from young adult fiction (my Fairy Tale Novel series has been very popular with teens!) to work on a new adult series based on the Bible. But I'm also running Chesterton Press, and we are continuing to publish teen series such as John Paul 2 High (we are developing our first fantasy series and another teen series as well), and women's romance books like our romantic comedy Catholic Philosopher Chick (Book 2 should be out by Christmas! Woot!). We also just republished Chesterton's satire novel The Ball and the Cross as a young adult fiction/fantasy. Publishing wise, we are just starting to make ends meet, so we depend so much on happy customers spreading the word about our books. Chestertonpress.com has everything I've mentioned here.
Q: Why is sharing this beautiful message so critical even with the very youngest of children?
If I can attempt profundity, the more important something is, the sooner you should introduce it to a child. So deep subjects are appropriate for children's books. Good is more important than evil. Beauty is more important than ugliness. Life is more important than death. Joy is more important than sorrow. So these are all things that should be in children's books. They have time enough to encounter the sad, tragic, ugly state of typical human existence.
The humanity of the unborn child is not merely a religious statement, it's common sense, and a statement about reality. Babies in the womb are alive: they are already human from the moment of conception. They like and dislike things. They have personalities! My second child didn't like being poked in the womb (my first baby loved it). Even today, she's a very independent and private person. My seventh child was literally born hand-first -- she was trying to figure out what was outside! And today, she's still always into things, always curious, always stirring things up.
That the laws of our country deny this common sense fact, and that they decree that bigger and louder people are allowed to arbitrarily destroy the lives of people who happen to be smaller and silent is an idiocy and cruelty that future ages will judge us by. As we still judge the Founding Fathers of our country by how they stood on slavery, as we judge the people of Nazi Germany by whether or not they helped the Jews -- so future ages will judge us, by whether or not we stood up for the children in the womb. It is the issue of our time, and one we ignore at our peril.
I believe the story of the baby in the womb is an important story, and one that will shape the imaginations and feelings of our children. Helping our children to become pro-life is helping them to save their souls, and helping to eradicate the evil of abortion from our culture.
It's a big thing for a little book to do, but God always starts small. As do all of us.
Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
Just that I am so grateful for all the readers who've loved this book and my others books, and who've shared them with others. That always makes a difference in the future projects I'm able to do, so I'm just so grateful. Thank you!
Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey