Mapping the Road Not Taken: Becoming Deborah

My book, The Road Not Taken, poses many “magical questions”—and I’m going to begin digging even deeper into the historic and mythical underpinnings in its pages, here and on social media @SusanRubin1 on Twitter and @SusanRubinWriter on Instagram, in a new series: Mapping the Road Not Taken. Together, we’ll travel through the pages of my book—and at every stop, I’m going to ask you to answer a magical question. Leave your response in the comments here or on social media.


Note to Self: some people suffer from a lack of guidance growing up. Some people suffer from a set of guidelines that are way too rigid. My childhood had some of both.

This and Greenwich Village are two of the only things I share with the protagonist of my new book, The Road Not Taken. I don’t give the character any name at the start of the story, and I never give any names to her family.

The absence of names means something, but damned if I know what.

Early in the character’s relationship with her mentor, she is given another name: Deborah. There are no instructions to go with the new name, but Deborah finds a smidgen about herself in the Old Testament. Five lines. What I learned from the five measly biblical lines was that Deborah was a prophet, a judge and a warrior. You’d think that would earn her some ink, but you’d be wrong.

In spite of this, my character is fascinated by how a native New Yorker, used to a deadly but typical life as a wife and mommy, could morph into a judge, a prophet and a warrior. The story in the book lets her do that. First, she is given guides and taken on fantastic trips through Time and Space, and she learns about Weimar Germany on the cusp of Hitler’s rise. (For me, this is the freest women have ever been, and the Nazis took it away from them quicker than you can say “kitchen, children, church.” Which is exactly what the Nazis said to establish the Fatherland and destroy the movement of free people that included women, artists, LGBTQ people.)

In her travel back to 1933 Weimar, Deborah kills a Brown Shirt. She has never used a weapon other than to carve a turkey or pluck her eyebrows, but she kills this bully who is twelve times her size without a second thought. The warrior part of her is immediately accomplished.

The prophet part comes from watching her daughter during a rough patch in her marriage where both partners are cheating on each other and asking Deborah how to fix things. She doesn’t predict the future, but she does give sound advice and remains remarkably detached the way a prophet must if they are going to avoid running around screaming and tearing their hair out as they detail the events they see coming.

The arc of the book is completed when Deborah must decide the fate of our planet: the judge. I won’t say who asks her, you need some surprises. I will say she comes to her decision about the earth through a Yoruba Priestess, who shows her the power of human spirit. It is based on a true story of unarmed people defeating a group of crazy, blood thirty terrorists. It taught me and Deborah that it’s not the size of the gun, but the will of the shooter that always matters. 

Which brings me to today’s magical question:

Why do you believe the world is worth saving?

Tell me, in the comments here or on social media. In the wake of the election and with all the work yet to come, I believe this is an urgent inquiry. Maybe together we can remember what it is we’re really fighting for—and find our own pathways to transformation.

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