top of page



Article Published on: 03RD JAN 2024 |


It was always there, a deep knowing that someday Lenaye would write a book. She didn’t know what the book would be about, and until it was time to write it, she rarely, if ever even thought about it. She was an artist after all; her father was the Ivy League poet and fiction writer well-published and renowned in his circles. Still, over the years Lenaye did enjoy the creative writing she did in school, for correspondence, or an occasional newsletter.

Photography by Max Hudock (

In her early forties, a compelling urge to write surged within Lenaye Marsten. This yearning coincided with her return to the ancestral grounds of her New England forebears, a move driven by newfound revelations regarding one particular ancestor. Enthralled by the prospect of delving into the depths of her familial history, Lenaye embarked on a journey back to the roots of her lineage.

Her quest led her to the Counting House Museum, nestled in South Berwick, Maine—an immersive repository of history and whispers of the past. Lenaye initially anticipated researching and penning a narrative centered around this enigmatic ancestor. Yet, her experience at the museum became an unforeseen catalyst, a visceral encounter that defied logic but resonated deeply within her.

"The Secret Life of Mary White," Lenaye's published opus, finds its genesis in this pivotal visit to the museum. It sprung forth not merely from research but from an inexplicable occurrence that stirred emotions and intuitions, compelling her to probe further. This encounter ignited a fervent passion within Lenaye—a fervor to unearth the veiled truths and unravel the mysteries encircling her great-grandmother, separated by eleven generations.

As she delved into the depths of historical archives and family chronicles, Lenaye's journey became a relentless pursuit to unveil the essence of Mary White's concealed life. Each revelation and uncovered detail pieced together the intricate tapestry of her ancestor's existence, creating a narrative that blurred the boundaries between history and emotion.

Lenaye Marsten's journey into the depths of her familial history, chronicling the captivating tale of her ancestor, Mary White, was no fleeting endeavor. While nurturing her two children, she meticulously navigated the intricate lanes of research and writing, a voyage that unfurled over a span of about seven years. During this time, she didn't merely pen her thoughts; she immersed herself in a writer's community, seeking guidance, inspiration, and honing her craft.

Her quest for literary excellence led her to the esteemed Maine Women Writer's Collection at the University of New England, where she delved into the rich reservoirs of knowledge and expertise. Here, amid the troves of literary wisdom, she refined her storytelling prowess, fortified her narrative, and meticulously shaped Mary White's story into an evocative tapestry of history and emotion.

Lenaye's journey toward authorship wasn't without its ebbs and flows. She occasionally paused the project but never relinquished her resolve, steadfastly resuming whenever life granted her the opportunity. A testament to her dedication, the process spanned thirteen years, each moment a labor of love poured into resurrecting her ancestor's concealed life.

As the manuscript neared completion, Lenaye sought to refine her skills further, enrolling in an 'editing & pitching your novel' course with Curtis Brown Creative in the UK. This final touch, a testament to her unwavering commitment to storytelling excellence, set the stage for the culmination of her literary endeavor.

Deciding against a prolonged pursuit for a traditional publisher, Lenaye made the bold choice to independently publish "The Secret Life of Mary White." Driven by an impassioned urgency to share Mary's untold story, the book emerged, a labour of love, into the world.

Reflecting on her journey, Lenaye acknowledges the slow-burning effort to birth her debut novel. With her children now grown, she foresees a swifter pace for her next literary venture. Expressing an inclination toward traditional publishing for future works, she humbly acknowledges that self-promotion isn't her forte.

Despite her reservations, Lenaye's book resonated profoundly. Surprising even herself, she found that men embraced her narrative wholeheartedly, drawn in by the resonance of strong male characters woven within its pages. The book's success extended beyond her expectations, adorned with stellar reviews, captivating readers with its compelling, entertaining, and well-crafted narrative.

Today, "The Secret Life of Mary White" finds its place not only on Amazon Books but also adorns the shelves of historical societies, continuing to captivate readers with its intriguing tale, a testament to Lenaye Marsten's passion for storytelling and her ancestor's indelible legacy.

Lenaye Marsten's path to authorship bore the weight of unwavering dedication and tenacity, woven into the tapestry of her daily life. Between nurturing her children and navigating the contours of familial obligations, she found solace in the written word. Each spare moment was a testament to her commitment—a few stolen hours to breathe life into the enigmatic story of Mary White.


The seven-year odyssey through research and writing wasn't a solitary pursuit. Lenaye sought solace and guidance within the embrace of a writer's community, embracing their camaraderie and imbibing the wisdom bestowed upon her. The corridors of the Maine Women Writer's Collection opened avenues of learning, enriching her storytelling craft, and embellishing her manuscript with nuances that breathed life into Mary's clandestine existence.

Despite the intermittent pauses, Lenaye's resolve remained unwavering. A project spanning over a decade and a half held her captive, an ardent desire to weave the threads of history and emotion into a narrative that traversed generations. Her resilience withstood the test of time, echoing in each revision, each edit, each return to the manuscripts' pages.

The decision to independently publish wasn't just a leap of faith; it was an unshakable conviction. A conviction that Mary's story deserved to be shared without delay, unshackled by the constraints of traditional publishing timelines. Lenaye's heart lay within the book's pages, as did the story of her ancestor, poised to unfurl its tale to the world.

Now, with her debut novel finding its footing among readers, Lenaye embarks upon a new chapter in her writing journey. The reception and resonance of her narrative, particularly among male readers, served as an unexpected yet heartening affirmation. Their appreciation for the robust male characters nestled within her story was a delightful revelation, an aspect that broadened the book's appeal beyond her expectations.

"The Secret Life of Mary White" stands as a testament to Lenaye Marsten's unwavering dedication—a labor of love that speaks volumes not just of her ancestor's hidden life but also of her own indomitable spirit, cementing her place among the literary world as an author whose storytelling prowess transcends generations.

BUY ‘The Secret Life of Mary White’ ON AMAZON - CLICK HERE 


“The Secret Life of Mary White” is historically accurate and based upon a true story from beyond the grave—A 17th-century woman given a voice—to speak her truth. The memoir of a past life written as historical fiction.

Mary White arrives in the New England colonies as a young girl, carrying a gift that could send her to the gallows—an intuitive awareness passed down her maternal family line. In a society that condemns the unexplainable as Devil’s work and witchcraft, she must conceal her gift at all costs. Not so simple when a person’s life hangs in the balance and Mary knows exactly what they need to heal.

As she and her family settle into their new life, mysterious incidents soon implicate her and things begin to go terribly wrong. The situation grows dire indeed when Mary is accused of bringing a dead man back to life. Only when her greatest nemesis can no longer conceal his own shortcomings does she have a chance. Luck is on her side, or so it seems—but will it continue to be?

Mary grows into a young woman, and after a dramatic dance of courtships, she marries. Her reputation as an herbwoman and practitioner of physics has continued to expand, and she soon finds herself in great demand. However, there are some that frown upon a woman with the renown to keep death at bay, especially the few who control the many. When those in power take the matter into their own hands, Mary’s life is changed forever.


Lenaye has had various book signing/reading events since the launch of ‘The Secret Life of Mary White.’ She will be signing books at the Kittery Historical Society and Museum in Kittery, Maine on Saturday, December 9th, 2023, 10-1 pm.

In December 2022, Lenaye Marsten graced the Portsmouth Historical Society with her presence, showcasing the treasures of her book, "The Secret Life of Mary White." Reflecting on the experience, Lenaye expressed her admiration for the warm reception she received at the historical society. She was notably captivated by the charm of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and lauded the society's gift shop, acknowledging its allure.

The event itself was a testament to the mutual enthusiasm shared by attendees and Lenaye herself. Her reading session stirred an engaged and inquisitive audience, sparking discussions that delved into the depths of her book. Following the reading, she generously dedicated an hour, diving into the depths of conversation, answering inquiries that ventured into profound territories.

Lenaye found herself immersed in meaningful exchanges, as curiosity and intrigue wove through the air, igniting a collective passion for unraveling the nuances of her narrative. The Portsmouth Historical Society became a platform where history and storytelling converged, allowing Lenaye to share her ancestor's enigmatic life, fostering connections that resonated deeply within the hearts of those present.


Q: 'The Secret Life of Mary White: Darkness Into Light' is inspired by a true story from the 17th century. Can you share what drew you to this historical narrative and inspired you to write about it?

A. As strange as it may sound, writing Mary’s story was something I agreed to do before I was born. I still have a vague memory of being on the other side and wondering how I was ever going to remember enough to do her story justice. Moving back to the region where she once lived was the initial inspiration, and events quickly unfolded. The first two pages of my novel describe exactly what happened and how it all started.

Q: The book describes Mary White as a woman with a rare and misunderstood gift. What specific aspects of her story and gift resonated with you and made you want to tell her tale?

A. Mary’s spiritual sensitivity, and her connection to the natural world’s divinity, resonated with my own understanding and connection with all that is. Knowing that I was tuning a past existence as another human being, and an ancestor of mine no less, absolutely fascinated me.

Q: Mary White's story is set in the 17th-century Piscataqua region of New England. How did you approach researching and reimagining this historical context in your writing?

A. I read all the historical records I could find, made fairly easily by the historian Rev. Everett S. Stackpole having compiled quite a lot in his book, ‘Old Kittery and Her Families,’ and that the surviving early court & town records of Kittery, Maine, have been published into bound volumes. When I had finished with the records, (which are a riot by the way!) I began exploring past life regression sessions and working with psychic mediums. I researched at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH taking a 17th-century herb class, read Culpepper’s volume, also enjoyed Plimouth Plantation reenactments & 17th-century feasts. I learned to open hearth cook while volunteering at the York Historical Society dressed in costume for school children and interviewed a Frost descendant known for his historical expertise. I explored the Piscataqua River by canoe and foot, identifying all the early sites. I made the most of it and loved it. Most importantly, if I closed my eyes and imagined myself as Mary, her life just unfolded for me.

Q: The concept of a fine line between Mary's healing craft and the intolerance of the fearful and ignorant is a central theme. How did you navigate the delicate balance between exploring her gift and the societal challenges she faced?

A. Having spent most of my current life on the outside looking in, I already understood Mary well. Mary learned early to keep her perceptions closely guarded and this also came naturally with how women were expected to behave, to keep their eyes lowered, to be subservient. Mary’s gift had one acceptable outlet and that was the healing of the sick.

Q: The concept of a fine line between Mary's healing craft and the intolerance of the fearful and ignorant is a central theme. How did you navigate the delicate balance between exploring her gift and the societal challenges she faced?

A. Having spent most of my current life on the outside looking in, I already understood Mary well. Mary learned early to keep her perceptions closely guarded and this also came naturally with how women were expected to behave, to keep their eyes lowered, to be subservient. Mary’s gift had one acceptable outlet and that was the healing of the sick.

Q: Mary White's abilities encompass natural magic, alchemy, ancient wisdom, and folklore. Can you discuss how these elements are woven into the narrative and how they contribute to her character's development?

A. The story is told through Mary’s experience and progression as a healer. Her reputation grows over time, as does her personal development. She grows through challenge, danger, adversity, and life experience.

Q: Transmuting darkness into light is a powerful metaphor in your book. How does Mary's journey represent this transformation, and what lessons do you hope readers will draw from her experiences?

A. Mary’s gift of healing others, symbolized by ‘Darkness into Light,’ is alchemy in the truest sense of the word. It is also a metaphor for Mary’s journey as she learns to surrender to the external and ‘align with the Divinity/Source/God within’ to fulfil her purpose, having to accept and transcend the fear of what befell her, choosing to carry on despite it all. The most powerful understanding that I hope my readers take away is when Mary, who knows that God/Source/Creator being everything, is also within her. If He was going to take her child, God was going to feel it too—every last bit of it along with her. Acknowledging God as her witness, she feels her pain intensely only to have it alchemize. She experiences the divine grace that we all have access to within when we need it the most.

Q: Your biography mentions that you are an alternative healer. How has your background in healing and your own experiences influenced the way you portrayed Mary's healing talents in the book?

A. My own experience as both an energy worker and a practitioner of Rolfing® Structural Integration (which removes density and negative emotional charge out of the cells of the body as it realigns the body’s structure via the fascia) has not played a huge role in the workings of the book as Mary’s gifts were more psychic in nature and her patients were typically very ill. However, I also work with PTSD and the nervous system as needed, and I would say this helped me to understand what both Mary herself and some of her patients were experiencing.

Q: As an award-winning artist, did your artistic sensibilities play a role in the visual and sensory aspects of your storytelling, and if so, how?

A. I have a degree in Fine Art, and I was given an award by my university for a painting that they also purchased as part of their Student Art Collection. I also received an award from the Alliance Art Gallery in Indianapolis for another painting that hung in my senior show. Other than this, my artwork took a back seat as I soon found a calling as a healer. As for my artistic sensibilities, I am a visual/sensory person so this of course plays a huge role in my writing and storytelling. I also tend to ‘see’ my way through as I create a scene, as my imagination ‘puts me there.’

Q: Living in Maine with your family and pets, how do your immediate environment and personal experiences shape your writing and creative process?

A. Living surrounded by nature for me is being immersed in a divine connection with the earth, trees, and wildlife. Animals come to me as spirit messengers. The quiet and peace certainly enhance my creative process: my very own writer’s retreat for which I am very grateful.

Q: Can you share any specific challenges or moments of discovery you encountered while writing 'The Secret Life of Mary White,' especially in terms of capturing the historical and magical elements of the story?

A. There were many amazing insights working with the psychics who could see what my higher self showed them, and much was written from this into the story. I will share one special moment of discovery: I had always been drawn to what I thought was a private driveway in passing, and the day I finally decided to drive up it blew me away and left me crying; for there before me lay the landscape I had seen a year before in a past life regression and it quickly identified for me where Mary had lived at a certain point in her life and the exact location of where her father’s house had once stood.

Q: Your book explores themes of triumph and tragedy. Can you highlight a pivotal moment or turning point in Mary's story that encapsulates these themes?

A. Mary indeed endured tragedies. Knowing I needed to write her truth, I stuck with it, all the while sorely tempted to write the life story that I would rather she had lived. I have already described the highest spiritual triumphs Mary experienced: connecting to her ‘God Self’ within, and choosing to do what she was born to do regardless of any future consequences. Then by including all those whom she helped heal, these encapsulate the greatest triumphant aspects of her life. But I will mention a pivotal moment of empowerment Mary experiences, when forced to use her gift. She steers others away from a very real potential tragedy while trying to find their way along a stream in a forest at night in the pitch black. Mary is triumphant when she is later lauded for this deed, however, there are consequences.



bottom of page