We're happy to introduce you Anne Leigh Parrish, a short story writer and a novelist.
Anne's debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity. Her next novel, The Amendment, is scheduled to be released in June 2018.
What inspired you to become a writer? Was it an easy path?
I always loved stories, made-up characters, and the musical quality of language. Lyrical prose is very important to me, both as a writer and as a reader. And no, becoming a writer was by no means easy. It takes years of trying a new approach, getting feedback, working with that feedback, and most of all, taking chances.
Your newest novel, Women Within, is a story of three women whose paths cross at the Lindell Retirement Home. Can you tell our readers more about the book and the main characters?
Constance Maynard, age 94, is a resident at Lindell. She is a retired professor of History who feels that women have always been unfairly treated and valued primarily for their reproductive capability. She adopts a child when a member of her own family cannot care for her properly, and declares that the child is hers, although she in unmarried. This is in the 1950’s, a time when social mores were harsh. She embraces the disdain she is shown, and rises above it all to prove that she is as worthy as any of her male colleagues.
Her two aides are the other two women in the book, the first of whom, 50’s-something Eunice Fitch, has her own female challenges. For one thing, her mother, a hard-drinking and unsympathetic person, was a poor role model. From an early obsession with silent screen star Lilian Gish, Eunice feels that the best thing to do is to be steadfast and uncomplaining. While these traits make her a great caregiver, it proves disastrous in her serial relationships with men.
Lastly, we have Sam (short for Samantha) Clark, in her twenties, overweight, whose mother is also difficult. She yearns to be pretty and petite, only to discover that her physical strength and endurance are in fact much more valuable.
Your book focuses on the female issues and women relationships, you also give a solid insight of the caregiving industry. Why did you choose to talk about these subjects in your novel?
To be honest, this is very personal territory for me, at least in terms of the relationships women have with other women, particularly family members. My mother was difficult. She was highly intelligent, well-education, successful in her career as a professor – and yes, she serves as the inspiration for Constance Maynard in the novel – but she was deeply dissatisfied with just about everything, my father most of all. Though she was unhappy in her marriage, she never accepted his decision to divorce her, and spent the rest of her life blaming him for a situation she in large part created. My only sibling is a sister (six years older than I), and she, too, was difficult. Her hatred of me, and her abuse of me when I was young had an enormously negative influence in my life.
As to caregiving, I once worked in a retirement home when I was younger, and then much later, spent time visiting my father in one as he declined. I am fascinated by the almost insular nature of that world, and the contrast between those who seldom leave it, and the people who come and go every day.
What are you working on right now? We know that your third novel is coming next year.
I’m working on a novel called Maggie’s Ruse. Like The Amendment, the novel appearing in June, it contains characters from my 2013 linked story collection, Our Love Could Light the World. It features a pair of identical twins, overly-privileged Millennials trying to find themselves as individuals by putting some distance between them.
What writers have an impact on your reading, and of course, writing?
All “the greats,” but specifically Flannery O’Connor, Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty, Alice Munro, and Louise Erdrich.
What are you reading right now, Anne?
Ann Beattie’s newest story collection, The Accomplished Guest.
What three titles would you take on a desert island?
Boy, that’s a tough one. Probably The Round House by Louise Erdrich, Mendocino Fire: Stories by Elizabeth Tallent, and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
Paper books or e-books?
When I have lots of time, and am staying in one place – that is, not on an airplane, or road trip, then paper books. Otherwise, the convenience of an e-book is just too great to ignore.
Anne, it’s shelfie time! Our readers would love to see your home library.
Anne Leigh Parrish's home library
Thank you Anne!
Make sure to request the audiobook giveaway of Women Within!
Ends November 28, 2017
Anne Leigh Parrish Books:
The Amendment: A Novel coming June 2018 from Unsolicited Press
Women Within: A Novel (Black Rose Writing, 2017), Best Fiction Winner, 2017 Maxy awards
By The Wayside: Stories (Unsolicited Press, 2017), Finalist in the Short Story category of the 2017 International Book Awards
What Is Found, What Is Lost: A Novel (She Writes Press, 2014), Finalist in the Literary Fiction category of the 2015 International Book Awards; Winner, Literary Fiction, 2015 Book of the Year Award
Our Love Could Light The World: Stories (She Writes Press, 2013), Finalist the short story category of the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; Finalist in both the 2013 International Book Awards and the 2013 Best Books Awards
All The Roads That Lead From Home: Stories (Press 53, 2011), 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver Medal Winner
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