Stories our world needs to hear: An interview with Author Sherry Boas
GILBERT, Arizona, January 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - What does a mother of five children all under the age of 13, one of whom has Down Ssndrome, do with her spare time when she is not washing, cleaning, cooking, and home schooling her children? She writes gripping fiction, of course. Not just any kind of fiction, but powerful emotional novels that are taking the culture of life by storm.
Sherry Boas, 44, devout Catholic, married to Phil Boas, and mother and teacher of her children, says she is passionate for truth and picky about little else, except for how her coffee is “grown, harvested, roasted, ground, stored and brewed.” Sherry places such a high value on friendship, however, that she is willing to “drink even a bad cup of coffee with a good friend.”
Sherry has written a trilogy of novels that set out to “subtly address” as she says “a good number of issues contributing to the culture of death”. These issues include abortion, euthanasia, sterilization, unresponsive medical care, divorce, infidelity, and promiscuity. She sees her writing as a way of responding to what the late Pope John Paul II called “the New Evangelization,” whereby one reaches out to people searching for meaning through compelling media.
Her novels have been hailed by critics as “masterful”, “riveting”, “heart-wrenching”, “brilliantly written”, “truly beautiful”, “fully imagined”, and “made for our times”.
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LifeSiteNews contacted Sherry to find out just who this woman is and what she is offering to the world through her novels.
Sherry and her husband have a strong love for life. After the couple married in 1996 they soon became troubled that they were not able to conceive children. Infertility however did not stop them from having children. The couple decided to adopt their children, four of them, all from various difficult backgrounds. One child was exposed in utero to crack cocaine, alcohol, and cigarettes. Another child they adopted was born with Down syndrome.
They were eventually blessed with a child of their own. But even he had a difficult background, born 15 weeks premature and weighing only a pound and a half. Sherry and Phil are convinced that their biological son John, who is now 6, is a walking miracle.
Sherry holds a B.S. in journalism from Arizona State University and wrote for a daily newspaper for ten years. She has won numerous awards as a journalist. After adopting, Sherry left journalism for what she saw as a move up-the-ladder to the vocation of motherhood.
It was Sherry’s experiences as a mother to her children that inspired her with a message that she passionately desired to convey to the world. After the kids were in bed, she found herself sitting in front of the computer with coffee and ice cream furiously pounding away at the keyboard. She wrote about what she calls “truth” that “resounds in the struggles and triumphs of everyday family life”. While Sherry’s stories are made up, the context of her fiction is as real as the daily events that unfold in the life of her family.
“I draw virtually all my material for my books from everyday family life. I find it a rich reflection of the beauty of God’s kingdom,” she says, adding that family life is a “place of mercy, forgiveness, unconditional love”, a place where “selfishness” is broken down and where each member helps the others “ultimately get to Heaven.”
The author says that her world view has been formed and continues to be formed by the “wisdom and love of Holy Mother Church.” This does not mean, she says, that one has to be a believer to enjoy her books, but it does mean that one has to be “at least somewhat open to beauty, mercy and compassion.”
Sherry’s life is truly a rich tapestry of sorrows and joys, threads from which she weaves into her novels. Readers say that they cannot put them down once they pick them up.
“My great sorrow is all the years I lived outside the fullness of Truth and Light, making up my own rules instead of following Jesus, even in the many moments when He was saying, ‘Come follow me.’ But that’s how merciful Jesus is. He kept inviting and inviting, until finally I could resist His love no longer.”
Sherry shared that her crosses have to do with her own “inner struggles with living up to the joy and love we are called to live as followers of Jesus.” She feels that God has giving her so many blessings and yet, in each moment, she says “I don’t always respond with gratefulness and joy. My crosses are my own impatience, my own selfishness, my own unwillingness to surrender every moment to Him for the simple reason that He gave everything - even His very life - for me.”
But Sherry’s experiences of sorrows and crosses do not have the final word in her novels, rather a profound sense of joy, love, and hope-filled expectation. For Sherry, the greatest joys come from the same coin that has sorrow as the other side.
“I have had many great joys: my coming to fully understand the beauty, love, mercy and life offered to us in the Holy Eucharist; each new baby I hold in my arms, each miracle we witness in our children’s lives, each Baptism, each First Holy Communion. My work, which has introduced me to so many wonderful people.” One “great joy” that still brings tears to Sherry’s eyes is what she calls the “miracle that allowed me to see my little boy, John, grow up.”
Sherry says that she has learned many important lessons while journeying through life. “The great lesson I have learned is that holiness consists in the complete surrender to the will of God.” She and her husband believe that their infertility taught them their “greatest lesson” which allowed them to turn a “personal tragedy” into their “greatest joy”.
“I am grateful for our infertility. Without it, we would never have known these four children who have made our lives so rich. Our adoptions have so clearly been guided by God. We see adoption as just another way that God builds families - brings souls together on this journey to Him.” The couple is convinced that God’s plan for their family with their adopted children “far surpasses our wildest dreams.”
Sherry draws from this deep well of sorrow, joy, gratitude, faith, hope, and love to craft her profound tales. “I feel my calling is to write fiction that is laden with truth. Fiction is the path I have chosen to reach a world that might not be open to the pro-life message presented in a straight-up fashion,” says the author.
Sherry pointed out that Jesus reached out to people in a similar way through parables which are similar to fiction. “If reaching the culture through fiction is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” It is her hope that through works of art, including works of fiction, “we can take the message of hope and gospel truths to a society that is becoming increasingly secular and resistant to the message of Life and beauty.”
The primary message that the author hopes to give her readers is that “hope reigns and mercy is unbounded”. Sherry believes that the world is thirsting for the message of “hope and mercy”.
“The problems our world faces today are caused by fear. Love and fear cannot co-exist. Where there is love, fear flees. Why does a woman have an abortion? She is afraid of something. Why does a woman carry a child, bearing all the discomfort and pain that goes with it? She does it out of love.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ has called Sherry’s novels “made for our times,” adding that they are “another sign that the Lord is building a culture of life today, even as the culture of death rages around us.”
“Thank God for writers like Sherry Boas whose words could only arise from a heart that is familiar with the mystery of the cross,” said the Bishop.
Note: An upcoming piece to appear on LifeSiteNews will examine Sherry Boas’ Lily Trilogy more closely. Stay tuned.