Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, West Virginia. A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, she once dreamed of being a marine scientist, but her love for words won out.
She has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. And her fiction work celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia.
Sarah and her husband, Jim, live in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
What sparked your writing journey?
The concept for the Appalachian Blessings series came to me because I nearly drowned when I was four. The memory of being under the water—seeing leaves and silt swirl as sunlight streamed down—is incredibly vivid. And oddly enough—it’s a pleasant memory. So not only did I survive a near drowning, I have a good memory of the experience. That’s a miracle on several levels and started me thinking about how miracles are around us all the time, but we learn to take them for granted. So I thought I’d create characters for whom the miraculous is a little more obvious.
God sometimes sends us down an unexpected path in life—one that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
Almost daily! I’ve learned that every time I think I know where God is taking me, the only thing I can count on is that I’m wrong. I make my plans and then try to hold them loosely; knowing God is going to do something I could never even imagine. The best stuff in my life—my husband, my job, the community I live in—are things that happened to me. I didn’t plan any of them!
How does your faith play into your work?
It’s at the core of my writing. I write because I want to tell people how amazing God is and it’s the best way I’ve found to do it. A reviewer once called my debut novel a parable and I really appreciated that sentiment. I hope it is.
Let’s talk about Miracle in a Dry Season (Bethany House, August 2014). Please tell us about it.
It officially released August 5th. It’s set in 1954 and features Perla Long—an unwed mother who has a strange “knack” for stretching food so that it feeds however many are hungry. Casewell Phillips is drawn to Perla, but can’t let go of the obvious sin represented by her illegitimate daughter. When drought comes to Wise, WV, Perla’s knack brings relief to the town and Caswell begins to see that she’s more than her past. There will have to be a whole lot of forgiveness to sort this relationship out!
In addition to the main storyline, there’s a secondary story about seventy-year-old twin sisters who once loved the same man—now the town drunk. I almost liked their story better than Perla and Casewell’s—the sisters and their old beau have some of the best lines!
Bethany House also released a FREE e-book novella entitled Appalachian Serenade. Please tell us a little about that.
I never even considered writing a novella, but Bethany has found them to be a good way to introduce a new author. So when they asked, I jumped right in! Writing Robert & Delilah’s story was so much fun—I’m really glad my editor asked me to do it.
God often uses our stories to teach us something. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
I wish I had something wonderful and inspiring to offer here, but I really don’t. The most important lesson in my writing life is that to get something done I have to apply the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair. And pray. Pray before writing, pray during writing, give thanks when the writing flows, and ask for help when it doesn’t. I guess my spiritual lesson is that God is the true author and I’m just grateful that He lets me help.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
I don’t get it as often as I like, but my mom’s chocolate cake is my very, very favorite comfort food. Even ahead of fried chicken. It’s a moist, yellow, two-layer cake with the fudgiest frosting ever. A slice of that and a glass of fresh milk will cure most anything.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Um, no. I’m musically challenged. I love music and as an adult decided to take cello lessons because I think it’s the most gorgeous sound. After two years of lessons I proved that while I could play if I really worked at it, I had NO natural talent. I gave it up for writing which comes much more easily!
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I’d be Theme from a Summer Place. It’s the song I walked down the aisle to. It just makes me feel all smoothed out and happy!
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Probably the strong, female lead. One of my strengths (which can easily become a weakness!) is a tendency to take the bull by the horns. I sometimes have to quell my natural instinct to just take over in certain situations!
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Now you’re talking my language! We currently share our lives with Thistle—a bull terrier mix—who is utterly spoiled. She’s a rescue and has me wrapped around her fuzzy, little paw. She’s my writing partner, often lying at my feet while I’m at the computer and always accompanying me on hikes which is when I do my best plotting.
Before Thistle, we had retrievers—two goldens and a black lab. They all lived to be thirteen or older and we weren’t sure we’d ever recover enough to have another dog, but then Thistle came along . . .
Thank you, Sarah! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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For more information about Sarah, visit her website. Download Sarah’s FREE novella at one of your favorite e-book merchandisers below.
To purchase Miracle in a Dry Season, logon to:
Kathy, I’ve read a few things about Sarah and her work, but I’m glad you’ve hosted her on your fine blog because I learned a few more interesting things.
Sarah, nice to meet you 🙂 I’ll add your novel onto my TBR pile.
Elaine, nice to meet you, too! Let me know what you think, although if you’re TBR pile is like mine . . . Well, we’ll always have something to look forward to!