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After her mother's death and her father's abandonment, tiny infant Sarah Graham was left to be raised by her emotionally distant grandmother. As a child she turned to music for solace and even gained entrance to Juilliard. But her potentially brilliant music career ended with an unplanned pregnancy and the stillborn birth of her child.
In an attempt to escape the past, Sarah, now twenty-seven, is living life hard and fast--and she is flat broke. When her estranged father dies, she travels to the tiny mountain hamlet of Jonah, New York, to claim her inheritance. Once there, she learns her father's will stipulates a six-month stay before she can receive the money. Fueled by hate and desperation, Sarah settles in for the bitter mountain winter, and as the weeks pass, she finds her life intertwining with the lives of the simple, gracious townsfolk. Can these strangers teach Sarah how to forgive and find peace?
A story of grace, of God's never-ceasing love, and the sometimes flawed, faithful people He uses to bring His purposes to pass.
"Parrish's debut novel is written with heart and soul. It is always refreshing to read books with imperfect characters; they seem more real. The characters' faith struggles are written in a way that does not preach to readers.
"SUMMARY: Sarah Graham is 27 years old, alone and broke when she finds out she's inherited money from her late father. But in order for her to collect, she has to stay in the small town of Jonah, NY, for six months. Sarah isn't happy, bush she's willing to do it for the money.
"The townspeople share their memories of her father, but it's not the same man she remembers. How could one man be kind to strangers and cruel to his family? These gentle souls teach Sarah how to find her way to forgiving the past."
--Patsy Glans, Romantic Times Book Reviews, October, 2008
"Sarah Graham believed her parents had died in a car accident when she was a toddler. Her grandmother was raising her, but showed her little love of affection. Sarah learns the truth at twelve; her father had murdered her mother and was in jail. Thinking she was unlovable, Sarah became a selfish, self-destructive person. Then she receives notification that her father has died. One of the stipulations of receiving her inheritance is that she must live in small town Jonah for six months. Sarah learns a lot from the people of the town and eventually comes to find herself, a secret from the past and the Lord."
--VJ, Libraries Alive
"Fiction writer Christa Parrish, who lives in South Glens Falls, weaves a tale of self-discovery in the well-reviewed Home Another Way. The debut novel is set in the fictional hamlet of Jonah, N.Y."
--Doug Gruse, Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY), December 20, 2008
"Recently we received a copy of a novel, Home Another Way, by Christa Parrish. To review a book we prefer to read it first and have done just that.
"It is the author's first novel and merits a high listing of books one would enjoy reading.
"The plot is wound around a young woman whose childhood developed a strong, independent woman who, through circumstances, ends up in a small backwoods town.
"The story deals with the effects of warm, friendly people in her attitudes.
"According to Publishers Weekly, 'Parrish allows readers to savor every moment of genuine, hard-earned human connection. With its vast array of richly imagined characters, its humor and its substance, this debut is sure to resonate with a wide and appreciative audience.'
"Parrish's style adds much to the story as she interlaced writing her tale in first-person and realized those characters secondary to her main character. Sarah Graham needed to be told in the third person to provide a perspective to Sarah's trials and tribulations.
"She says that in her writing process, she first thinks of her story as a little self-contained, independent film which gives her a feel of the rhythm of the dialogue and a feeling of the pace of the action, then proceeds to write, revise and form her ideas into a novel.
"Christa Parrish has been a journalist and is a past winner of Associated Press awards for journalism. She now teaches literature and writing to high school students. She is a home school mom and lives near Saratoga Springs.
"Her first novel should be a great success. It is an unique, down-to-earth story, easy to read and gives one much to think about."
--The Journal Press (Greenwich, NY), October 9, 2008
"Christa Parrish graduated from South Glens Falls High School at 166, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theater and journalism.
"While working as a reporter for the Saratogian several years ago, Parrish's narrative-style coverage of a criminal trial won her honors from the New York State Associated Press.
"Parrish gave up her job as a reporter after the birth of her son, Jacob. She continued to write from home, however, and her first novel, Home Another Way, has just hit the bookstore shelves. The story takes readers through the highs and lows of a heartbroken young woman who finds herself spending the winter in a small mountain town and finds what she least expected there.
"Parish, 31, now teaches literature and writing to high school students and is a home school mom. She still lives with her family near Saratoga Springs, where she is at work on her third novel.
"You once were a reporter for this very paper. How and why did you make the transition to novel writing?
"Actually, I applied for the job at The Saratogian thinking it would help my novel-writing aspirations. It didn't. As I learned (through the experience and speaking to others), when you spend eight hours writing for your day job, it's rare you want to come home at night and do more writing. Only after I left the paper--with the birth of my son--was I able to focus on fiction. Still, it took another four years for me to refine my idea for Home Another Way and write a meager 85 pages. After I found an agent, though, I became a bit more motivated and finished the novel six months later. Three months after that, I had a contract with Bethany House Publishers.
"As a home school mom who also teaches literature and writing to high school students, how do you manage to carve out time for writing?
"I teach classes three afternoons a week, so the hours before noon are spent schooling my son. I am not a morning person; most of my writing is done between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. In between those things, I'm chauffeuring my 7-year-old to play dates, field trips, community activities and sports, as well as finding time to answer e-mails, update my blog, cook, clean, and sometimes sleep.
"Your book takes place in a small mountain community in upstate New York. What was the inspiration for that?
"I chose New York because I live here and thought it would be easier to research. Writing a first novel had enough challenges; I didn't want to add the difficulty of choosing a place I knew nothing about. I spent several afternoons driving through the different mountain towns, photographing places that reminded me of the mental picture I had of my fictional hamlet of Jonah. I also needed an isolated place, for both plot and theme purposes.
"Are there advantages, as a writer, to living in this area?
"I think this area is incredibly generous to its local artists and writers, very supportive. It's not a mindset found in many places.
"Your main character, Sarah Graham, has a fairly rough personality. What message are you trying to convey to readers through her development?
"We meet people every day who are difficult to have compassion for, often because they themselves haven't known compassion in their own lives. I'm hoping readers will see in Home Another Way one instance where a broken woman begins to heal because others treated her with love and understanding. No, Sarah doesn't miraculously become a saint in the span of 6 months and 350 pages, but readers will come away with a sense that, yes, her life had been impacted by a bunch of imperfect people willing to extend a bit of grace to her.
"What demographic do you think will connect most with Home Another Way?
"I set out to write the type of novel I'd like to read, and I think that helped expand the demographic--I didn't have a specific target audience in mind. Also, while my protagonist is 27, the supporting character ages vary from 19 to 60ish. As such, I've had women of every age tell me how much they've enjoyed the book. And, surprisingly, a number of men, too.
"What do you hope people glean from this novel?
"Many of the characters in Home Another Way are dealing with their own problems--poverty, illness, past disappointments--but they don't let these things hinder them from helping others, don't use their circumstances as an excuse to become bitter or disengage from the world. But I also want readers to see real people living out their faith in an honest, realistic way, complete with struggles, doubts, anger and selfish intentions. My characters try, and fail, and try again. That's life.
"What's next for you?
"I just finished my second novel, Watch Over Me, which has a planned release date of October 2009. My third novel is due to the publisher at the same time. After that, who knows?"
--Betsy DeMars, The Sunday Saratogian (NY), December 7, 2008
"The protagonist of Christa Parrish's debut novel, Home Another Way, is like a hard candy with a soft center. Brittle on the outside, hiding a sweet center, Sarah Graham is irreverent at times, deliciously rude, unrepentant and ironically likable. And not the typical heroine of a novel about redemption published by a leader in Christian fiction.
"Coming from the ultimate dysfunctional family, Sarah has been raised by an emotionally distant grandmother after her mother's murder at the hands of Sarah's own father. After his death, and down and out, she is lured to the small town of Jonah by the promise of an inheritance. The only condition is, she has to stay for six months in the gritty, freezing Adriondack town--her idea of hell.
"There she's confronted by ghosts of her past. Even the town's name, Jonah, brings up unpleasant associations with her childhood: 'My grandmother, a bit of a religious fanatic, had taken particular delight in giant fish and prophets and the complete stupidity of some guy living three days up to his knees in gastric juices.'
"Parrish's brisk, humorous and unflinching style has garnered attention. Publisher's Weekly calls her story fresh and has praised it for its richly imagined characters, who are flawed and complicated.
"Parrish, 31, and a single mother has just finished her second novel and is under contract for a third. From her home in South Glens Falls, she spoke about Home Another Way.
"Q: What was your inspiration for the book?
"A: I can't really say. The idea sort of came to me all at once, one night in bed, and I put legs on it, fleshing out the characters and refining the plot.
"Q: What about the heroine, Sarah Graham?
"A: No one goes through life without struggles, myself included, and I think these feelings of pain, loss, doubt and fear are fairly universal. So, while I never experienced what Sarah does in the novel, I did use the painful human feelings and experiences I did know to empathize with my character. I did a bit of research, too.
"Q: Is the town of Jonah based on a real town?
"A: No. It's a conglomerate of several places in the Adirondack Mountains. Several of the stories in there are based on real life. For example, when one of the characters mentions carrying the tub in and out of the house on bath day, a man who lived towards Chestertown told me his family did that only 20 years ago. And, my mother knew a woman who purchased her first home without a dirt floor about 10 years ago.
"Q: Why did you choose upstate New York as a setting?
"I picked upstate New York because I live here. I figured writing a first novel would be difficult enough without having to research a place I've never been. The sense of community in Jonah--even with the gossip and meddling--is something many people have told me they've connected with, more due to the fat they wished they lived in a place like that.
"Q: What was your path to publication like?
"A: In 2006, two writer friends of mine surprised me with a scholarship to the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. It was my first conference, and all I had written was 85 pages of Home Another Way.
"I had one appointment with one agent, Bill Jensen of the William K. Jensen Agency, who asked me to email him what I had. Three months later he called and asked to represent me. That was late October. I finished the novel in May 2007 and by August I had the contract with Bethany House.
"Q: Was that our first attempt at publishing?
"A: Steve Laube, the agent of a friend sent me the kindest rejection letter, commending my writing, but telling me the story didn't interest him. He's since told me he's added me to his 'regret' pile--along with Jan Karon and Ted Dekker, both best-selling authors now. I'm honored to be included in such company.
"Q: What are you working on now?
"A: I literally just finished my second novel, Watch Over Me, scheduled for release in October 2009. Set in South Dakota, it's the story of a deputy who finds an abandoned baby in a cow pasture, and how this doscovery--and subsequent investiagtion--impacts his life. I'm also under contract for a third novel, which will release in the autumn of 2010
"Q: What is it like writing as a mother?
"A: I have one son. He's 7. I've been divorced for five years. I didn't do much writing while my son was young, just kind of stealing minutes here and there. I home-school him now, so most of my writing is done at night, after he's in bed. I am not a morning person, so I won't ever be telling the 'Oh, I wake up at 4:30 before the kids get up and write' story you so often hear from mothers who are authors."
--Renate Wildermuth, Times Union (Albany NY), December 32, 3008
"Several years ago, World sponsored a short story contest. Christa Parrish was one of the finalists. she received a book contract from Bethany House, and this is her first novel. It follows the story of Sarah Graham, a prickly, fast-living woman, who moves to a small mountain hamlet in order to receive an inheritance left to her by her estranged father. The one condition: She must stay for a year. Despite her basic surliness and unpleasantness, people in the little town show her love--even when she betrays a trust. She and others in the town learn through many trials that God saves sinners not because they are good but because He loves them."
--Susan Olasky, World, December 13/20, 2008