Sandra’s debut novel, The Heat of the Moon, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her second book, Disturbing the Dead, was one of three mystery/suspense finalists for the Benjamin Franklin Award, given by the Independent Book Publishers Association.
She lives in the Washington, DC, suburbs with her husband Jerry, a longtime Washington journalist. When she isn’t writing, she’s either taking pictures or taking orders from her two demanding cats, Gabriel and Emma.
Long Live The Book! by Sandra Parshall A book is a wondrous thing, a compact vessel crammed with life and death, love and hate, joy and despair, giving us portraits of the real world or worlds that exist only in our imaginations. All of this magic created with little marks on paper. Words. Those little marks, with their angles and curves, can make us cry and laugh and explode with anger. They can instruct us, soothe us, and break our hearts. The concept of The Book is arguably mankind’s greatest achievement. Humans, alone among animals, are blessed not with one written language but with many. We have used our languages for less than noble purposes – to attack each other, to sell deodorant, to explain how to use a microwave. But we have also recorded the history of our species, explored our diverse cultures, illuminated the world we live in. And with language and books we have given expression to the uniquely human talent for storytelling. When I was growing up in a household with few books, I dreamed of having shelves filled with them. I loved the look and feel of books. I thought I knew exactly what a book was: a bound, printed volume I could hold in my hands. All these years later, I still love books, but I’ve let go of that limited definition. I now own more printed books than I know what to do with. I can’t store them all, much less find time to read every one. I’ve learned to appreciate paperless books. I’ve been checking out unabridged audiobooks from the library for years, and I’m willing to buy new books as audio downloads. I don’t own a Kindle or Sony Reader, but sometimes I wish I did, when I consider how much storage space they liberate. I still love the words, but I no longer demand that they be printed and bound. The words themselves, in whatever form, are The Book. I know a lot of people who cling to the belief that the physical form of a book is as important as the words it contains. Some of my friends declare they will never touch an e-book reader because each purchase of a Kindle or Sony Reader pushes “real books” closer to extinction. They see themselves as sentries, standing guard over their beloved books, protecting them from a quick and terrible death. Someone in an online group I belong to recently predicted that printed books will last only as long as those of us who grew up without electronic devices are still around. When our kind dies out, she believes, the electronics-dependent younger generations will discard printed books as too expensive, too bulky, too inconvenient. The revolution will be complete. I’ll admit the thought makes me sad (and so does the notion that I’m among the last of the dinosaurs, in a sense). I love the look of a wall lined with full bookshelves. I still love striking covers and beautiful type. Those little marks permanently printed on paper still stir my excitement and anticipation. But I have seen the future, and it is digital. Much of our daily reading has already moved out of printed form. Many people now get most of the news through their computers, and every writer I know, down to the most stubborn Luddite, does research online. I even know people who read novels on their multi-function cell phones. I hope an appreciative audience will always exist for fiction. I don’t care what form people read it in, and I don’t care if they sometimes listen instead of read. Fostering the love of fiction – that’s what we should focus on, not a doomed effort to stop the move to electronic content. Long live The Book! And some pictures of my workspace - - - My view - - My muse - -
DISTURBING THE DEAD--Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist
THE HEAT OF THE MOON--Agatha Award winner