Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up in Mexico City, rural Massachusetts and the suburban Arizona desert. I remember loving fiction from a very early age. I think I started writing my first “novel” when I was about 8 years old, swinging in a hammock in the woods near our house, chronicling the adventures of our Cocker Spaniel on the lined pages of a red spiral notebook. Now that I have children of my own and am a home schooling mom, I’m learning that the desire to write fiction is very common in children. Two of mine are working on novels and a good number of their friends are as well.
But I took a little detour on my way to writing books. To pay the bills, I got a degree in journalism and went into newspapers. I wrote for a daily newspaper in Arizona for ten years until my husband and I adopted our first child and I quit to raise my family. That was thirteen years ago, and we’ve been busy with our four adopted, highly-adrenalized, loving and kind children, who have made our lives rich beyond all our imaginings.
Just recently, I decided to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a novelist. I found a bountiful treasury of material in all the exhilarating and exasperating experiences of motherhood and the deep friendships you forge with other moms in the trenches of child rearing.
The children Phil and I are blessed with are of various ethnicities and came to us with a variety of potential challenges, including a baby exposed in utero to crack cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes; a baby with Down Syndrome; and a 1 1/2-pound, 12-inch-long infant born fifteen weeks premature. All are thriving. Needless to say, we have witnessed many miracles, including a very large, medically unexplainable one attributed to the intercession of Blessed Mother Teresa.
What was your inspiration for writing the Lily books?
One day, I got to thinking about all the things we would have missed if we had not had the opportunity to adopt our daughter Teresa, who has Down Syndrome and was conceived in rape nine years ago. I thought about all the things the world is missing because 90 percent of people with Down Syndrome are aborted. So, I molded that thought around a completely fictional character named Lily, who has Down Syndrome and goes through life with an abundance of pure love that is life changing to the people around her. Lily is not the main character of each of the three books. Main characters need to change. Lily does not need to change. Everyone else does. Lily is the catalyst for the characters to find what they need — mercy, healing, faith. In short, God.”
What was something you learned during the writing process?
I learned that it is actually possible to occasionally write a complete, coherent sentence while fielding a barrage of unrelated questions such as: “Mommy, are six-year-olds stronger than 9-year-olds if the 6-year-old was born first? Mom, can I download the Narnia soundtrack now? Hey Mommy, what if we all sneezed at one time and blew the windows out and we all went flying out the windows and the boys had jet packs and the girls had parachutes? Mom, are you done with the computer yet, so I can download Narnia? Mom, can I have a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast if I eat three pieces of raw broccoli first? Mom, when you’re done with the computer, can I download Narnia?”
The brain doesn’t multitask as well as it did before 40, so if you find a few typos in the books, you’ll understand why.
I had no idea, when I finished the first book, Until Lily, that there would be another one. But several of my friends who previewed it for me said the ending left them hanging. They wanted to know what happened to Lily, even though I thought I had well implied what her likely destiny would be. Meanwhile, I realized how much I missed Lily, so I began writing the second book while my agent was trying to find a publisher for the first one. By the time I finished Wherever Lily Goes, there was still no publisher on the horizon. So I silently vowed to write no more until the first book was published. My husband, Phil, unaware of my new reluctance to “waste” any more time on writing books that would never see the light of day, presented me with a beautifully-wrapped box that Christmas and told me “this is for your writing.” I tore the paper off and found a brand new, shiny black laptop, with a fully-functioning keyboard that had not yet had a Tollhouse cookie eaten over top of it or a dribble of coffee sloshed onto its touchpad . It seemed a shame to let it sit idle. Before the new year dawned, I had started the third book, Life Entwined with Lily’s, which has actually turned out to be my personal favorite. It’s the most heart-wrenching of the trilogy, and it offers an ending that I hope really satisfies readers who have invested their time and emotional energy into getting through to the end.
The pro-life theme is fairly prevalent throughout the trilogy. What other important topics are touched upon in these books?
I tried to touch on a great number of issues harmful to the Culture of Life: abortion, euthanasia, sterilization, the breakdown of marriage, infidelity, incest, promiscuity, immodesty, child and elder neglect, illicit drugs and a variety of social injustices. I attempted to do this in a subtle, entertaining and moving way, weaving in some humor to build character and provide some comic relief.
What is the one thing you hope people who read your books take away from these stories?
I hope they will take a different look at the people around them, seeing the Lord at work in everyone, even those who may be resistant to the workings of God. As Plato said, “Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The undercurrent throughout the Lily Trilogy is mercy, something we are all in great need of. Hopefully, readers will contemplate anew the gift God has given us in the unimaginable depths of His mercy.
Do you have any stories that people have shared with you about how your books have touched their lives?
That has been the most rewarding aspect of having written these books — hearing about the ways in which Lily has touched people. Maybe they appreciate their own children or their spouse more after reading the books. Or they see the same flaws in themselves that the characters in the books struggle with and Lily has shown them a new way. But the best comment I’ve received — the one that makes all the work worthwhile — was one from a reader who said she had not been able to grieve the loss of her unborn children, aborted in her youth, until the day she finished the trilogy. I would spend every minute, all over again, writing the Lily Trilogy just for her.
Are there plans for any more novels in the future?
Absolutely! I am about halfway finished with a new novel, with all new characters, but still written from a Catholic world view. I hope to have that book out before the end of the year. And then, God willing, there will be more. I’m putting that laptop to good use. You can tell by the Tollhouse cookie crumbs embedded in its keyboard.
Sherry, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this interview, and sharing a little bit about yourself and your books with us and our readers/customers.
You can purchase Sherry Boas’ books here!