Sun Shine Down: Q and A with Author Gillian Marchenko

I recently had the privilege of reading a powerful memoir. It so powerfully moved me that I felt it was important to expose all my readers to her heart - her life.  I loved how she drew me in and made me feel I was walking with her on her journey through hope, depression, acceptance and joy.  Her honesty is refreshing - and so often I felt myself nodding along with her experiences - both positive and negative.

Here Gillian shares with us some responses to questions she's received - let it whet your appetite for this book and look for an upcoming giveaway on this blog!

Gillian Marchenko is an author and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband
Sergei and four daughters. Her book, Sun Shine Down, a memoir, published with T. S. Poetry
Press in the fall of 2013.

She writes and speaks about parenting kids with Down syndrome, faith, depression,
imperfection, and adoption. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago
Parent, Thriving Family, Gifted for Leadership, Literary Mama, Today's Christian Woman,
MomSense Magazine, Charlottesville Family, EFCA Today, and the Tri-City Record.
Gillian says the world is full of people who seem to have it all together.  She speaks for the rest of

Why did you decide to write this story?

E.M. Forster said, "How can I know what I think till I see what I say?"  I am a life-long journal keeper, but after the birth of my third daughter and her diagnosis of Down syndrome, writing became necessity.  The first year of her life I wrestled a hallowing grief over the child I expected and the mother I was to become.

My journaling delved deeper as my daughter grew.  Images, situations, and details bobbed up to the surface of my conscious.  A fear of brokenness; broken people, broken things, and ultimately, my own broken heart, had been tucked inside me since childhood.  I wrote, and a thought nagged.  Perhaps these words were meant to be read by others?

A memoir emerged.

You are a pastor's wife.  Was it difficult to share the hard parts?

While I was writing, and throughout the process, no.  But I have to be honest, once the book published, and my struggles and sins were out there for all to see, yes.  In the beginning though, when my husband Sergei and I agreed I would mould my writing into a book, we also agreed I absolutely had to share the hard parts.  Without hard parts, the good parts aren't as good.  Without darkness, the light is not as bright.  Grace lives in hard parts.

What do your husband and children think of the memoir?

They are excited and supportive.  My daughter Zoya told me the other night, "I don't know what I am more excited about, Mom.  The fact that you published a book, or the fact that my name is in it."  I'm thankful they are fans of my words.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on two projects.  One is about my personal struggle with depression as a pastor's wife and a missionary.  With this project, I hope to convey that just because people of faith struggle, it doesn't mean they are not people of faith.

I also have about sixty pages of Evangeline's (our adopted daughter with Down syndrome) story written.  I do believe those who loved Polly's story will one day (God willing) get to read Evangeline's story as well.

Would you recommend this book only to special needs moms?

No, I think this book resonates with all sorts of people.  Of course, special needs parents, but also anyone who has been taken by surprise in life.  And who hasn't?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Gillian!  I look forward to reading more of your life in the near future!

You can link to Sun Shine Down on Amazon here:

Sun Shine Down by Gillian Marchenko

And here is a link to Gillian's Website:

Gillian's Website


  1. Great questions for Gillian, Sarah. It was that same thing - that her honesty was refreshing - that stood out to me and kept me reading. I hope more Christian writers and pastor's wives will take a cue from her and be real like that. It changes things!


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