ABOUT AUTHOR: Christa Parrish is an award-winning author of three novels. Her debut, Home Another Way (Bethany House, 2008) was a finalist for the ECPA Fiction Book of the Year. Her second novel, Watch Over Me, won the ECPA Fiction Book of the Year and the ForeWord Reviews bronze medal for religious fiction. Her long-awaited third novel, The Air We Breathe (Bethany House, 2012) has already been named a finalist for the 2013 Christianity Today Book Award. When not writing, Christa is creative director of the modern comtemporary worship service at her church and co-director of the youth group. She also produces a weekly radio show, helps facilitate Divorce Care and DC4K, chauffeurs her Grand Champion blue belt to and from Taekwondo classes, and chases a toddler. She and her husband, author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, have three children in their blended family. Gray (18), Jacob (11), and Claire (2).
How did you get the idea for The Air We Breathe?
All my stories seem to begin with an initial "spark" of an idea, like a drop of food coloring on a coffee filter when children make paper flowers; the initial color spreads as it's pulled from the center, growing and filling in all the whiteness. For The Air We Breathe, it was two things - crossword puzzles, and a news story I read about kidnapped children being locked in dog kennels. My brain somehow put those two things together, and the story bloomed from there.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Anyone who has read any of my novels know my themes are similar - broken people being used by Christ in unexpected ways, and in return encountering others who help them heal. I would hope readers see this, and then recognize the same in their own lives.
Nora: That's why I've really enjoyed all your books. You really get to the heart of the matter and cause your readers to think outside the box, we've but Him in.
In your new book The Air We Breathe is set mostly inside a wax museum. What made you choose this as your back drop?
I live not far from
, and there's Frankenstein's House of Wax on the "boardwalk." I think just the vintage nostalgia of the place, plus the idea of added isolation coming from living with a building full of people who aren't alive, made the setting interesting, to me at least. Lake George, NY
Nora: Yes, it was very interesting.
Do you come up with the titles to your books? How much input do you have in the cover process? Your books have had eye catching appeal. I was just wondering.
I've come up with all three of my novel titles, and each one has been a little easier. Home Another Way had a working title of Up the Mountain, then Down. We sent the proposal out with the title Variations on a Life (the word variations playing off both the classical music theme and the idea that Sarah felt as if her life should have turned out differently). In the end, after weeks of wrangling, we settled on Home Another Way after my agent recommended Home By Another Way (from a James Taylor song). Watch Over Me was originally titled Things Found in the Morning, a title I absolutely loved, and still do. That also had a duel meaning for me, with the baby being found "in the morning" but also how all the characters found things (about God and themselves) in their "mourning" - but that title was nixed. So I asked if Watch Over Me worked, since it was mentioned in the book and really was a strong theme throughout the novel.
|Another cover I found for this book|
Another title based on a song. And yes, The Air We Breathe is also from a song. The working title was The Air I Breathe and Bethany House changed the I to We.
I have little to do with the covering process. My editor has asked me each time if I have any ideas, but none have made the cut. I have loved all three of my final covers, though!
What was the hardest scene to write in The Air We Breathe?
The bank robbery scene in chapter three, I think, for several reasons. Firstly, I'm not really a "bank robbery" type writer, so just having something like that in a book of mine was difficult to conceive. But, I had to tell myself, I don't live in a big city, yet our town has had a couple of bank robberies or attempts in the past five years, so it does happen "for real" in places like where The Air We Breathe is set. Secondly, I wanted to be sensitive to my readers while still being true to my writing voice, describing the intensity of the situation without overwhelming people with too much of the gory details. And finally, I felt an obligation to be sensitive to the characters as well, especially Hanna. It was such a traumatic event for her, I needed to present it in a way that would honor what she went through.
Nora: I did like how you handled this situation. I appreciate you being sensitive to the readers. I got the message loud and clear with what you wrote. I couldn't have stood anymore! That's what I like about your writing too, you don't go over the line. I'm not afraid to read your books because I can trust you and what you share! I appreciate I wouldn't be up at night having nightmares about what I just read! Thanks!
A friend of mine told me she started to re-read your book Home another Way right after she finished it. I understood why she did it when I finished reading it to. There is so much in there. So many things become clear at the end it’s almost made me want to re-read it too. How long did it take you to write that book? It’s so detailed and amazing how you brought all the parts together to fit perfectly.
Hmm. I wrote the first 80 pages of Home Another Way over a two-year period, and I use the term "write" loosely - I would go months without looking at the manuscript. But I was always thinking about it. Then I went to a writer's conference, signed with an agent, and finished the novel in six months; outside motivation helps, at least for me. Part of the reason the beginning part took so long to write was because it was "missing" someone - Memory Jones! My original idea didn't have Memory as a character. Then, one day, I received a letter from a young woman with that name, and I thought, "What a great name for a character..." In that instant, Memory was there, fully formed and integrated into Sarah's story.
You’ve said in an interview I read, “In my novel, Watch Over Me, the main characters feel as if they are on the “fringe” of the church body, unable to fit in. For Abbi, it’s because of her personal convictions; for Benjamin, it’s because of the pain he’s carrying around inside him; and for Matthew, it’s a physical disability. But all three of them come to realize they are all necessary parts of the body of Christ. They – we- are the eyes and ears and feet and noses. Each of us fills a role in Christ’s church, and in the lives of those around us, placed there by God to serve and love one another in our differences.” When did this become real for you personally? Did you have this struggle? How did God help you “Fit In”?
I became a Christian at the end of my first year of college, when I was seventeen, and really had no one to mentor me in the faith. I ended up in a spiritually-abusive church which - among other things - deemed me "not feminine enough." It was a difficult time for me, and even after I left that church, I spent years trying to twist myself to fit into the "perfect Christian woman" mold. After much struggle with the Word and prayer, God brought me to a place where I realized He made me who I was, and I didn't have to apologize for it. Yes, there are certain things all believers are called to do, but we all have calls as individuals as well. These callings can be unique and Biblical at the same time.
Nora: I've encountered a similar situation and found it hard to walk in everything God says I am. It's amazing to think He loves me just the way I am. I don't have to clean up or get good enough to be completely loved and accepted. It still blows my mind! Thanks for sharing this Christa!
FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
You've been given the opportunity to use a time machine. Where would you go and what would you do?
I'm not sure I'd go anywhere. I'd be too concerned about the ramifications of altering the present universe by meddling in the past.
If you had 24 hours to hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus – that’s a given) What two people would you pick and what would you do?
I pretty happy just hanging out with all the people in my life now. I don't think I could play favorites and choose anyone else.
Where did you live growing up? What did you like about growing up there?
I lived in downstate NY until I was 11, and then moved upstate, where I've been (except for college) ever since. I love that it's only a short drive into the mountains, and away from civilization. And I like having all four, distinct seasons.
Nora: I grew up in northern New Jersey, in a small town called Sparta. Loved the season change but not the deep snow and freezing temps.. After living in Florida for many years, I APPRECIATE having four distinct seasons!! Love it in GA because the snow isn't deep at all! Grin!
Name two jobs that you've had people might be surprised at.
I haven't had very interesting jobs, I'm afraid. I think novelist is probably the most interesting. I've also been a newspaper reporter, a lab researcher, a jewelry counter attendant, and a social services case manager.
Nora: Those are interesting jobs!! Grin!
Name three everyday things you’d not want to live without (besides the bible)
Internet access, earplugs, and NY Yankees baseball.
What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why? If you didn't watch movies as a kid what book affected you?
I don't remember any books or movies having an impact when I was young. But as a teenager, there were two movies - Dead Poet's Society and Schindler's List. As for books, until I was 15 or so, all I read was mystery and horror - think Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike. It was around 15 or 16 I picked up my first contemporary literary fiction, Anagrams by Laurie Moore. That book made me realize there was more out there, and that was the way I wanted to write.
THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new book. You can find Christa Parrish on the web at www.christaparrish.com and on facebook.
I’m thrilled that Bethany House is giving away 5 copies of your new book at The Book Club Network’s contest. I hope that you can join in the discussion. The readers and book club leaders enjoy the author interaction at TBCN http://www.bookfun.org/ - You must join TBCN to participate. Membership is free and easy!
ALL ENTRIES for the contest ARE TO BE MADE @ THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.org - NOT ON THIS BLOG POST!!
ALL ENTRIES for the contest ARE TO BE MADE @ THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.org - NOT ON THIS BLOG POST!!
Blessings to you in your writing adventures.
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