Book sales support Feeding America
Debut book set in fictional town that resembles Peterborough
Sandra Hutchison’s first job out of college was in Peterborough.
“It was in the early 1980s. I worked at Wayne Green books as a project editor,” says Hutchison, who now lives in Averill Park, N.Y., and teaches at Hudson Valley Community College. “I lived in Florence Goldman’s house on Kaufmann Drive. It was just one year, but it had quite an impression on me. It was the first time I was out on my own.”
Now Hutchison has drawn on her memories of Peterborough to serve as the model for the fictional town of Lawson, N.H., the setting of her debut novel “The Awful Mess: A Love Story.”
The book, which Hutchison describes as “a sunnier, sexier twist on ‘The Scarlet Letter,’” tells the story of an unhappily married Episcopal priest, who has a short affair with the new divorcee in town before they both move on — only to discover that she’s pregnant.
Hutchison stresses that although the settings of the book should be familiar to local readers, the characters are not based at all on actual former residents.
“I started attending church while I was in Peterborough, and I was baptized at All Saints’,’” she says. “I liked the town so much and I wanted the heroine to be moving from Boston to a small town. But the church in the book is not intended to be All Saints’ at all. And I don’t know of any priest from that church ever getting into trouble with a woman.”
Hutchison was also influenced by the debate about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, who once lived in the Peterborough area.
In a summary of the book, she writes, “My heroine calls herself a heathen, but she ultimately falls in love with a guy who supports gay rights even though he’s a Christian who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. Meanwhile, his father is an Evangelical who thinks homosexuality is an abomination. The book is really about how people with widely varying religious beliefs can still come together.”
Hutchison’s book, which is self-published through her company, Sheer Hubris Press, is only available as a Kindle download through Amazon.com.
“This is my first book, and it’s a way to slowly find an audience,” Hutchison said about not publishing a printed edition of the book. “I think Kindle will help build awareness.”
To that end, she’s making the book available at no cost from Sept. 2 to Sept. 6. And any royalties Hutchison earns for the rest of the month will be donated to Feeding America, an organization that supports a nationwide network of food banks.
“I can relate to people who are uncertain about their future meals,” Hutchison says. “My first car in Peterborough broke down every single time I had any money to spare.”
Hutchison says she hopes anyone who gets the book for free and enjoys it will also donate to a local food pantry or to Feeding America through her virtual campaign page at www.help.feedingamerica.org/goto/awfulmess .
“The Awful Mess: A Love Story” is available exclusively online at www.amazon.com. A PG-13 version is also available there and from other e-book retailers such as Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Although the PG-13 version isn’t free, Hutchison, a longtime food pantry volunteer herself, will also donate its royalties for September.