I recently read a fantastic novel, The Faded Photo, by author Sarah Price, and I knew I wanted to do an interview with her. I’m also offering a softcover giveaway of The Faded Photo. Read on to discover more about this moving book that features a protagonist who is diagnosed with breast cancer, and comment at the end for a chance to win. Winner will be announced next week.
But first, a bit more about Sarah:
Sarah Price comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, including numerous church leaders and ministers throughout the years. Her involvement with the Amish dates back to 1978 when she wrote her first novel, Fields of Corn, while studying anthropology and writing at Drew University. She was drawn to the amazing culture of the Amish of Lancaster County where Ms. Price is involved with numerous Amish communities and is considered family by some and friend by most others. Fields of Corn went on to become an Amazon bestseller and First Impressions, A Retelling of Pride & Prejudice, Sarah’s salute to Jane Austen from an Amish perspective, debuted on the ECPA bestseller list. In 2014, An Amish Buggy Ride became a #1 Amazon bestseller in Religious Romance. Ms. Price has advanced degrees in Communication (MA), Marketing (MBA), and Educational Leadership (A.B.D.) and was a former college professor. She now writes full-time and talks about her books and her faith on a daily live stream with readers.
Interview with Author Sarah Price:
HG: So nice to have you here, Sarah! I’d love to know more about your author background. You have written many Amish novels—did you grow up near an Amish area? Who was your first publisher and what year did your debut novel release?
SP: My fascination with the Amish began in 1978 (which blows my claim that I am perpetually 29 years old). My Mennonite grandparents took me on a great adventure to Intercourse, Pennsylvania. We drove along the back roads, visited one of the living Amish farms, watched a movie at The People’s Place in Intercourse, and toured the Weaver Schoolhouse. When I saw my first horse and buggy, I was hooked.
In 1988, I was a young college girl, studying anthropology at Drew University in Madison, NJ. During a break, I drove to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, determined to meet some Amish people and stay on their farm.
Everyone I talked to laughed at me and told me that this was an impossible. First of all, they told me. Amish people didn’t like Englischers and, secondly, they certainly didn’t want Englische women hanging around their farms.
I proved them wrong. J
My first book about the Amish, Fields of Corn, was written in 1990 and I self-published it in 2009. As they say, the rest is history. Today, I am the very proud (and busy) author of over forty novels, many of them having been on best-seller lists as well as members of the elite Amazon Top 100 Club.
Almost all of my original works have been bought by publishing houses. While I am venturing into new genres (such as Women’s fiction with The Faded Photo released in April 2017 and Heavenly Blues releasing October 3, 2017), the Amish genre remains near and dear to my heart. My goal as an author of this unique genre is to provide well-written stories that are both authentic and accurate in their portrayal of the Amish to my followers and friends.
HG: The breast cancer scenes are so realistic in The Faded Photo, and I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a very personal book for you, having had breast cancer yourself? Was this a terribly difficult book to write?
SP: Believe it or not, it was not difficult to write. It just flowed. The story itself is completely fiction, although I suspect that, if cancer knocked on my door again, I probably would “pull a Frances.” I never let cancer get me down. The day that I had my mammogram and they sent me right away to a surgeon for a biopsy, I knew—just knew!—I had cancer. I cried that day…but out of anger, not fear. I was mad. After that, I adopted a much more relaxed approach. I mean really, what’s the point of crying, getting depressed, or feeling sorry for yourself? It doesn’t change anything.
My journey with breast cancer was particularly difficult from a health perspective. It took almost two years to fix my initial breast reconstruction which, ironically, almost killed me. My original plastic surgeon made them too large (yes, you read that correctly) and the skin died, first on my left breast (aptly named Louis) and later on my second breast (Marie Antoinette). I developed an infection and almost died. I felt great though so I had no idea that it was that serious. I had to stop chemotherapy, was in isolation for ten days, had at least six or seven extra surgeries and one of those was the worst pain I have ever experienced. Took me almost two months to recover from that one.
So I actually presented a very vanilla version of breast cancer. 😉
HG: Wow, you are one tough cookie, my friend! Frances (the main character) reminds me of women I’ve known. This novel really portrays the odyssey cancer sends her on. What would you want women who have breast cancer to take away from this story?
SP: The main thing that my readers should know is that we are so much stronger than we think. We have to stand up for ourselves, take charge of our lives, and not be pushed around. We are survivors and I don’t mean just breast cancer. Frances is too giving, but she morphs into a new person. Her cancer is a life-changing event in many different and unpredictable ways.
HG: So true! I read in your bio that you’re also a survivor of domestic violence. Would you say that Nicholas (the husband’s) personality in this novel reflects a bit of that personality, with his controlling/overbearing ways?
SP: Yes, definitely. The odd thing about domestic abuse is that the abuser never acknowledges that he (or she) is abusive. Domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical. Mine was psychological and emotional. For years, I was told I was fat, ugly, stupid, and didn’t make enough money. I was put down constantly, ignored, and basically stripped of any self-esteem.
He controlled everything, especially my emotions.
In hindsight, it was a gradual process—the person I was on my wedding day was not the same person who filed for divorce. That journey was a terrible one, let me tell you, and it still continues to this day, unfortunately. They just cannot get enough of belittling their victims any and every chance they can get. It’s awful.
Thankfully, my husband, Marc (I call him my upgrade) is a great support to me and had rebuilt me from the ground up. Literally.
Nicholas is not that person. But there are definite traces of domestic abuse in the Snyder household. Frances just doesn’t want to admit it. When she finally does, she takes control back by withholding information from the family. As strange as it sounds, that’s her way to finally stand up for herself.
HG: I am so glad you wrote this book, to open eyes on many levels. Do you see yourself writing more contemporary women’s fiction? What are you working on now?
SP: My next book in contemporary women’s fiction is Heavenly Blues. It’s coming out on October 3rd. It’s about a nurse who gets addicted to pain killers. It’s actually based on a true story from two different nurses that I met during my breast cancer treatment. Apparently, this is much more common than we think. But it’s more than just a story about drug abuse. It’s about women who do too much and the terrible demands that we put on ourselves. Too frequently, our efforts go unnoticed and are unappreciated which can lead to depression or, even worse, self-loathing. And when people hit that point, they tend to self-destruct. It’s a vicious cycle.
For my next book, Shattered Mirror, I’m working on a story about a teenager addicted to drugs. His parents are divorced, the mother is struggling, and the father is an alcoholic. You’ll see glimmers of domestic violence in that the father is in complete denial and tries to undo everything that the mother does to help her son. There is also a subplot in this story regarding teenage depression and suicide. It’s a hard story to tell, but I know that many parents will read this and realize how accessible drugs truly are to these kids. Having been through some of this, I can say without any hesitation that most parents are raising their teenagers with their eyes wide shut. Hopefully they will learn more about drug abuse in the 21st century. But I wouldn’t read this one without a tissue.
HG: Sounds like you’re writing more real-life issues and I can’t wait to read those! My upcoming mystery delves into drug abuse in West Virginia, which is an epidemic here. Keep up the great work, Sarah!
Some things should be kept private. Frances Snyder can never quite get her mother’s voice out of her head—how to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother. Frances’s home life is demanding, and while she’s busy seeing to everyone else’s needs, Frances doesn’t have the luxury of spare time.
So when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, she thinks that she can handle it on her own. Dealing with endless tests, brutal chemotherapy, and the looming specter of surgery, Frances chooses to face cancer on her own terms: alone. That is, until she finally understands that unexpected friendship—and unconditional love—can offer hope in the darkest hours.
With tenderness, grace, and flashes of humor, bestselling author Sarah Price draws upon her own experience as a breast cancer survivor to create a story about one woman’s determined and solitary journey into the unknown—in hopes that she’ll find her way back home.
***Readers***: Comment below for a chance to win your own softcover copy of The Faded Photo–please share if you or someone you know has had cancer, and something you took away from the experience. Winner will be announced on the blog next week.