I just finished reading Sarah Loudin Thomas’ debut novel, Miracle in a Dry Season. It was a beautiful, captivating story that I read pretty much non-stop until I finished it. The themes of transformation and forgiveness drew me in. I could relate to so many of the characters at different points as the story developed. Many times, I read a great novel, but it’s only entertainment. When I’m finished reading, I’m not changed other than being entertained for those hours I was reading. After reading the story of Perla, Casewell, and the many personalities of Wise, West Virginia, I walked away pondering the gift of forgiveness and the difficulty of giving it and receiving it. I was reminded of the hurt that a judgmental spirit can cause and the pain of being judged. I was entertained but also touched by the themes throughout the book.
Miracle in a Dry Season releases today, and I highly recommend it. In celebration of her new release, I asked Sarah if she would answer a few questions for the Anointed With Grace blog readers. Here is my interview with Sarah Loudin Thomas:
Sarah, congratulations on your book release and thank you for answering a few questions for us. I know this is a busy week for you! I loved the story set in Wise, West Virginia and I know you grew up in West Virginia. Can you tell us a little about why you chose the state as the background for this story?
One of the most common pieces of advice writers hear is: Write what you know. That turned out to work great for me. I grew up in a family of storytellers—the seventh generation to live on our farm in West Virginia. Dinnertime was filled with tales of our days, sometimes with a little embroidery thrown in, and if we ran out we could always ask Dad to retell one of our favorites. It’s those stories of his growing up that are almost mythical to me. So many of the characters—my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, great grandmother, Dad’s childhood acquaintances—were gone by the time I took an interest. Even so, they live on through his stories. Now I have a chance to go back to that “simpler” time when life was pretty well confined to a small community of people who supported one another. My stories are a love letter to Appalachia and my heritage.
The drought is a major “character” or plot line in the story. Is this something that you or your family members have personally experienced?
Not really—there were tough years, especially for my grandparents and great-grandparents. It actually seems like there were more years when it was too WET which results in a poor garden and makes it hard to get the hay up for the cattle.
I’m going to stay away from spoilers, but many of the characters in your book experienced transformation as the plot developed, and forgiveness was a big part of those changes. Why was this an important theme for you to cover in the book?
While there’s not much stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock these days, there are plenty of other ways we judge and snub each other. Maybe your hair or clothes are wrong. Your job isn’t good enough. You live in the wrong part of town. You don’t go to the right church or read the right books—the list goes on and on. I think everyone can relate to feeling judged. And I think everyone has been guilty of judging someone else. I know I’ve found myself on each side of that equation more than once.
What can we expect from future books by Sarah Loudin Thomas?
Book #2 in the Appalachian Blessings series is tentatively titled Until the Harvest and is due out Summer 2015. It’s about the next generation of the Phillips family. Here’s the promo copy:
When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’ college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but odd pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.
Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister Margaret with the freckles and cute, turned up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she’s his grandmother’s housekeeper and helper, so she’s always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn’t care about his loss, before beginning to understand she’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry’s future and Mayfair’s life are put at risk.
Finally, I love to cook! I saw that you posted Perla’s Peach Cobbler recipe on your blog. Can we share it here as well?
Perla’s Peach Cobbler
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 cups sliced fresh peaches
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in a 9×9 baking dish. Blend flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk. Pour batter in baking dish over melted butter. Sprinkle peaches on top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Serve warm with freshly whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream.
Thanks so much to Sarah for taking time during her busy launch week to visit with us here!
Note: I received a complimentary influencer copy of Miracle in a Dry Season from Bethany House Publisher that in no way influenced my review or opinion of the book. Affiliate links are used in this post; see full disclaimer here.