Friday, May 29, 2015

Author Spotlight: Down From the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM


Elizabeth Fixmer probably loves creating and writing stories more than anything else. In her first book, Saint Training, she borrowed parts of her own childhood as well as the historical actions that impacted her emotional and spiritual development. Her second book, Down From The Mountain, reflects her interest and concern regarding religious cults that hurt people. Fixmer worked as a psychotherapist with a few persons who were still in cults, and more who were recovering from negative cult experiences. She is currently working on a book with the working title Mercy. This book is about a seventeen-year-old girl who's pregnant and serving time in prison.

Fixmer loves many things involving stories: theater, books, movies, television and takes guilty pleasure in enjoying some reality TV, especially those involving other cultures and religions such as Hutterites, Leaving Amish, and Escaping Alaska. Any food show will catch her attention because she loves eating. She also loves animals, especially her pets Charles and Tenacity.

Elizabeth lives in a small town in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Title: Down From the Mountain
Author: Elizabeth Fixmer
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication: March 1st 2015
Cover Rating: 4/5

Down From the Mountain was such an eye opening book. People actually believe in prophets and cult like situations. It is scary to think that someone could put THAT much trust into another persons hands. At first, I didn't think I would enjoy this book. After I received the book I got the image in my head that it was about religion and a girl life in a cult. Instead it was actually about a girls struggle with her religious beliefs and her trying to figure out right from wrong. But I can say that I devoured this book in the majority of one day.

Eva/Lily was amazingly brave and strong. I normally picture people in cults as brainwashed and very obedient but Eva had a mind of her own and it was telling her that Ezekiel and the Righteous Path wasn't right for her.

Annie was a nice enough kid but she was severely brainwashed. Eva was supposed to be her best friend yet, countless times, Annie told her that if she saw her doing something that was against the rules she would report her. She also believed that she was suffering from asthma for her sins. WHAT sins could a ten year old possibly have that would damn her to having server health issues?

I really liked Trevor. He had his own motives but he also seemed to truly care about what happened to Eva and her mother. I truly think they would have made a great couple. Even though Eva is only 14 her maturity level is much higher. The Righteous Path made her grow up too fast it seems.

The people who were a part of Righteous Path must have really needed to put their faith into someone. The group had hardly any men and all the women were marrying Ezekiel. Something about that should have told these people that SOMETHING was wrong. 

In a way I feel like this book explains so much about the world. It isn't just cults that have high expectations. The entire world does. Ezekiel wanted to control how people saw his followers and the world wants to control how women look. You might this this who cult thing is outrageous but it's not the much different than the world the rest of us live in.

In the end I was left with a few questions. Like what happened to the rest of the mothers and the few kids? Did Trevor and Rachel get together? I kind of got that vibe at the end. I know he was 20 and Eva is 14 but they still made a pretty good team.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.




1) WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN?

As a spiritual person and seeker of “truth,” I have always been interested in religions and alternative belief systems. So I was fascinated about cults from early adulthood on and read a great deal about them. 

When I went into private practice as a psychotherapist I had the opportunity to work with several people who were actively involved in a cult or had recently gotten out of one. I looked at the common characteristics of the cults I had read about and those of the clients I had worked with and from an amalgam of these, created Righteous Path were Eva grew up.

2) WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S SO EASY FOR MOST PEOPLE TO PUT THEIR TRUST IN ONE PERSON’S HANDS?

Everyday people, people like you and me, join cults all the time. No one knows, of course, that they’re joining a “cult.” Typically the person thinks he or she is just learning more about a self-proclaimed leader who has a very different perspective from her own. The leader may or may not have defined himself as a guru but attracts people with his charismatic personality, his words and so called “wisdom.” The leader may then proclaim to have a direct line to the messiah, or even that he is the messiah. Over time he becomes more and more authoritarian and demanding all in the name of God.

It becomes harder and harder for the participant to leave if she start to have doubts. She is generally isolated from the outside world, her family and old friends, and has been taught to fear them because they aren’t living the right path. Her “support system” consists of the other cult members. Besides, to prove faithfulness she has likely given all her worldly possessions to the cult.

Many people consider brain washing as the cause of members staying even members.This may be an appropriate term in some cases in which the leader attempts to “wash clean” all the old ideas and beliefs of the participant and replace them with his belief system. The participant may forget to use his own critical thinking or just decide that the consequences of thinking outside the cult box is too dangerous.

What’s worse is that she may have reason to fear that she’ll be stopped by members if she tries to leave and/or reprisals from the cult afterwards.
In short, it takes planning and a huge act of courage to break cult ties.

3)DO YOU THINK EVA WOULD HAVE TRIED TO TAKE HER MOTHER AWAY EVEN IF RACHEL HADN’T LEFT

Absolutely! Eva’s relationship with her mother was primary and remained strong in spite of consequences the whole time she was growing up. Before Eva knew that Rachel was gone she knew she had to save her mother.

4) WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE ARIZONA AND COLORADO AS THE STATES WHERE RIGHTEOUS PATH RESIDED?

Colorado was a natural choice because I lived in Colorado for 20 years and know the Denver/Boulder area quite well. I chose Arizona for them to come from because Arizona is known for a major cult and because it borders Colorado.

5) ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON ANY NEW BOOKS?

Yes. I’m working on a book about a girl who has just turned 17 and finds herself in jail. She’s being tried as an adult for vehicular homicide because she stole her mother’s car, got drunk and hit a college student. She feels that her life is over – especially after she learns she’s pregnant. But things begin to change when she discovers that she may be able to keep the baby even in prison.

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