ABOUT AUTHOR: Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014 through Bethany House. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.
A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.
Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.
Did you have a say in choosing the cover for this book? If so, how did the process work?
The cover is a fun story! First, it’s absolutely gorgeous. But I was kind of surprised when I saw peaches in Perla’s apron. I mean, there weren't any fresh peaches in the story. I always imagined cover designers coming up with the image based on something specific in the novel. Instead, they went with an image that spoke of abundance in hard times. Very nice, but I wanted to give readers that moment when they discover the cover. So I wrote a scene with peaches. It actually worked out beautifully. It was a pivotal moment for Casewell and the fresh fruit complemented it perfectly. You’ll see when you read it!
In Miracle in a Dry Season, Perla says that things always work out – not necessarily the way we expect – but they work out. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
I’m walking evidence of that statement! How many of my plans have worked out the way I expected? Umm, hardly any. I used to call it luck or good fortune, but now I know it’s always been God guiding my steps even when I was blind to his influence. I joke that every time I think I see where God’s leading me I can pretty much guarantee I’m wrong. It’s like the weather forecast—we might get close, but only God knows the future!
Things get pretty heated at the church and the community about Perla’s gift when they start calling it witchcraft. They say the gift is from the Devil. Not accepting the miracle for what it was. How do you and/or our society try to explain away the miraculous things that happen?
|Presenting my book @Church - a Miracle|
I think we explain away miracles every five minutes. We call them things like coincidence, or medicine, or nature. I had an allergic reaction to a bee sting once and went through a series of shots to increase my immunity. I did NOT enjoy those shots. One day at the clinic I prayed and asked God why he couldn't just cure me. That little voice I too often ignore whispered, “What do you think I’m doing?” Yup, miracle. Look up the aerodynamics of the bumble bee some time. The fact that those guys fly is 100% miracle. If gravity were a tiny bit stronger or weaker, this world wouldn't exist. That would be one of those miracles labeled science. I think miracles scare us—remind us we’re not in control. So we pretend to have an explanation for them instead of just giving thanks.
I felt uncomfortable when the Pastor of the church got up and spoke from the pulpit about sin and how it was causing the drought. He was singling out one person’s sin and how they needed to repent. I've gone to churches where they said things this Pastor did. (Of course your Pastor character went to the extreme of any situation I've been involved in. But not as extreme as other situations in our world. The cult in Waco Texas and the Jim Jones Massacre just to make a few extremes cases). Did you model this Pastor after any one? What do you hope readers will learn from this character?
There is no single model for Pastor Longbourne—he’s a bit of a caricature. I wanted to exaggerate that human tendency to try to point to the cause and effect for everything that happens. E.g. If I hadn't skipped reading the Bible this morning, I wouldn't have gotten into this traffic jam. If I had prayed for the meeting this afternoon, it would have gone better. I think people tend to be superstitious and sometimes we even treat faith like some sort of good luck charm. Longbourne tries to use people’s tendency to point fingers against Perla pretty effectively. But it’s never that simple, is it?
You talk about small town life, with its joys and its strains of everyone being up in your business. You also showed how a small town can also pull together to weather a crisis. It’s hard to imagine that type of caring and friendless being demonstrated in our communities today. Were you raised in a small town? Read about small town life? What do you hope readers learn about small town life and about living in community with one another?
|My dad infront church I grew up attending|
Oh, I pretty much grew up in Wise, WV. I was related to most everyone at church and we visited and helped each other often. I could drive by most houses in Laurel Fork and tell you who lived there—well, Dad could anyway! Even now I know a lot of my neighbors in the little community I live in. We share garden produce, our dogs play together, we check in on neighbor’s houses when they’re away, and we visit on porches and in living rooms. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of that kind of community not being around anymore as it is people not taking time to be that kind of community. Go ahead, take your neighbor a loaf of zucchini bread—I bet you’ll have a great visit and learn all kinds of things you didn't know!
FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?
|My book launch party-Worked out better than hoped|
Oh, I’m totally the bossy, take-charge type. The tricky thing is that it runs in my family. So maybe I’d just be in charge of the library (these are my friends and family so they were ALL traveling with books and grabbed them as the ship went down).
A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?
Go back to 1940 and hang out with my grandparents who both died before I got to know them.
What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?
|My dog,Thistle, In my reading chair|
Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?
Rain on a tin roof. Especially if I’m drifting off to sleep. I also love the grunty, snorty sounds my dog makes when she’s contented. You've never heard such groaning and heaving of sighs!
We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that as a given what part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most?
Letting someone else do something that I think I could do better—or quicker. If my husband cooks, I have to leave the room. That’s my domain and if he does anything differently than I would, I just itch to correct it. And he’s a fantastic cook! I have an over-inflated sense of my own competence. God is helping me with that . . .Sarah
Nora: Thanks for stopping by Sarah and helping us get to know you and your debut novel. Sarah I Loved all the fun pictures too! Grin! I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN going on right NOW at www.bookfun.org .
Looking forward reading the participation between you and readers! Your questions for them to answer were fun! REMINDER - Everyone has to be a member of TBCN www.bookfun.org in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows. The last day to enter this drawing is the last day of the month.
Nora St. Laurent
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