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Anne Parrish, author of Snow Angels - Stories #WriterWednesday

Published on

5/6/2015 10:15:25 AM

In which we interview Anne Parrish, author of Snow Angels - Stories


Snow Angels - Stories, by Anne Parrish

Genre: Short stories

Description: Snow Angels is a collection of short stories dealing with the themes of loss, grieving, and motherhood.

 

You writing process

I’ve been writing a long time, so the process has changed a lot over the years. Right now, with a new novel underway, I’m just moving forward with the main character, switching between past and present scenes. I don’t outline, so the narrative has to grow organically. I stop and go over everything on the page every now and then, which is much easier to do with an actual hard copy in hand, and make sure that my characterizations and the events I present at different points are consistent.


Your goals

The short term goal is to finish this new novel, while marketing and supporting my three earlier books. A longer term goal would be to win some prestigious prize, but short of that, to build a loyal following of readers who wait for my next work.


"The statue was really a lawn ornament, a crude Madonna, between three and four feet tall. They’d gone to the garage sale to find a crib, but when Maggie saw the statue, she just had to have it. What pulled her in was how the mother’s head, arm, and cradled child made one smooth arc, to represent the essential – the eternal – flow of life."

- Anne Parrish, Snow Angels - Stories


Your habits

I’m not one of the people who can write every day. I have a lot on my plate – editing an online magazine, reading submissions for another, writing content pieces for my publicist to place, building my Twitter following, and so on. But I’d say that at least several days a week I pull up the novel and commit to at least an hour or two of hard writing/editing.


Your schedules

Well, since my children are grown, my schedule is much freer than it once was. I always give things an initial look first thing in the morning, and then if it’s a “gym” day, which most days will be, then I’m at it again right after lunch until late-afternoon.


How you define success as an author

I’d say that for me it’s writing the way I want, saying what I want to say, and earning critical acclaim for both.


Why do you write?

Honestly? Because I’m much less crazy when I write than when I don’t. I need a creative outlet, and writing suits me well.


"She wanted it where the dining room table was, in front of a bay window that looked out on a strip of dead grass, so Donny moved the table into the hall, and then to get around it you had to squeeze, not easy to do with a growing stomach."

- Anne Parrish, Snow Angels - Stories


What was your inspiration for writing this book?

The book you’re asking about is a new collection of short fiction, some stories previously published, others new. I’m not writing short stories too much these days, having finished one novel and embarking on a second, but stories are a huge part of my writing life. I spent years writing stories before turning to a longer form. The inspiration for this particular collection, as for the two which preceded it, are to explore the themes of loss and redemption.


What authors have influenced you?

So many! But at the top of list are Raymond Carver, William Trevor, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor and most recently Marilyn Robinson.


"There would be more room for everything if the previous owner hadn’t split the house in half. What used to be a good sized-living room and study were now a separate apartment, and Maggie and Donny had bought the house for that very reason. Donny thought the extra rent would help with a baby on the way, and in a couple of years, when they needed more room, they would break through the wall and add about nine hundred square feet to their living space."

- Anne Parrish, Snow Angels - Stories


What is your favourite book?

I’d have to say any of the Gilead trilogy books by Marilyn Robinson, which are Gilead, Lila, and Home.


Does your book fit into any existing fandoms? For example, who would it please? Fans of Stephen King? Donna Tartt? George R. R. Martin?

Anyone who reads (or read) Alice Munro will find a welcoming home on my pages.


"Then the baby was no longer on the way but dead, and removed with an injection of something to bring on labor. It was a girl, as Maggie had wanted, with a tiny face so absurdly human it made her weep. For two days she lay in her hospital bed tormented by memories of her mother who abandoned her at age five, her father whose ashes she’d scattered just last summer into the blue water of Lake Cayuga north of Dunston, her doctor saying she’d conceive again in no time, and a social worker who said grief is a process, a slow hum forward."

- Anne Parrish, Snow Angels - Stories


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Learn to take feedback, persist, be tough on yourself and generous with your fictional characters.


What did you learn while writing this book, and how will you use those discoveries to help you write your next book?

Well, this collection, Snow Angels, is technically my fourth book-length work of fiction and I’d have to say I was reminded by how much I adore short stories.


What was your favourite scene to write?

The scene in the first story, “Surrogate,” where the statue breaks.


What was the hardest scene to write?

They’re all hard – nothing is easy, let me tell you!


 

"Maggie didn’t want to go forward. She wanted to stay where she was and let the world leave her behind. But the world dragged her along. The crib and changing table they’d ordered arrived in flat boxes Donny propped against the wall by their front door. Maggie stubbed her toe on them several times before her body learned to sway to one side when passing by."

- Anne Parrish, Snow Angels - Stories


How did you come to be a writer? Is it something you’ve wanted to be all your life?

I began writing at a very young age, and knew that’s what I wanted to be. Then I detoured into classical piano for about ten years, a business education and career before realizing, at the ripe old age of 27 that I needed to abandon all of that and get back to the page.


What is the most important thing a book should have or do? And what do you want readers to take away from reading yours?

A book should be able to change someone’s mind about something important and persuade them, or remind them, of the beauty, challenge, and complexity of the human condition.


Why did you choose to upload with Readership?

It think it’s a fabulous idea and very ground-breaking, at a time when publishing is changing fast and all the time. I love new ideas.


Additional notes

The lead story in the collection, “Surrogate,” won a prize back in 2008, awarded by the US literary journal, The Pinch.


Anne Parrish is the author of three other works of fiction, two collections and a novel.


List of awards


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