Conversation with Olympia Author Anne Leigh Parrish

Award-winning Thurston County author pens 14th book


Local author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish of Olympia has penned her 14th book, “The Hedgerow.” A historical fiction set in 1949, it’s the perfect summer reading novel for those who love history, fiction, a well-educated heroine and great storyline. Anne Leigh Parrish sat down with ThurstonTalk to give us the inside scoop on what inspires her about the Pacific Northwest and Olympia, which she calls home.

Anne Leigh Parrish (pictured) is an award-winner author of 14 books and resides in Olympia, Washington. Photo courtesy: Anne Leigh Parrish When did you start writing?

Anne Leigh Parrish: I made a few attempts in elementary school, and again sporadically in high school, then I really got serious when I was 27, which was a long time ago!  What led you to become a writer?

Anne Leigh Parrish:  I love language and the musical nature of it. That said, storytelling became a huge motivator for me.  What was the first thing you had published and when was that?

Anne Leigh Parrish: My first short story is called “A Painful Shade of Blue” and it appeared in the autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. I’m grateful to them for maintaining their extensive archives and I’m delighted that it’s still available for people to read. You’ve had a range of literature published, do you have a favorite genre or type?

Anne Leigh Parrish:  I’m really getting into poetry more and more. There is something so wonderfully freeing about writing poems. Why did you and your husband decide to move to Olympia after 35 years in Seattle?

Anne Leigh Parrish:  My husband is a lawyer and went into business for himself way back in 2004. He is able to work from home, and we grew tired of how crowded the city had become. Our children were grown, through college, and out of the house by then so we figured, why not? Your poetry collection “If The Sky Won’t Have Me,” was inspired by the Pacific Northwest. What inspired you?

'The Hedgerow" book with a flowery mailbox on the cover
‘The Hedgerow’ is Olympia author Anne Leigh Parrish’s newest novel, available July 9, 2024. Photo courtesy: Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish:  So many things, really. Much of my work is about women’s rights and family dynamics, but also nature itself, particularly water and rain, of which there is a great deal here. Do all the poems in the collection have a common theme?

Anne Leigh Parrish:  As I said, there are definitely common themes, but not always. Sometimes I just need to say something for its own sake. Tell us about your newest book, “The Hedgerow.” Is it set in the Pacific Northwest?

Anne Leigh Parrish:  I’m afraid it isn’t…It’s set in 1949 and takes place mostly in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s an exploration of the limited roles women were allowed to have back then, and a cautionary tale of the kind of world many in the country would like to return us to today. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Anne Leigh Parrish: I love to take photographs! Please see my dedicated photography website, Lavinia Studios.

A black and white photo of an orchid by Anne Leigh Parrish. Photo credit: Anne Leigh Parrish Any tips for aspiring writers?

Anne Leigh Parrish: I could fill pages with tips, but I can narrow them down. First, learn. That’s harder than it sounds, and what I mean specifically is to learn to write better. That takes practice and listening to what people say about your work. That said, try to listen to people who actually know something about writing, and there are fewer of them around than one might think.

Next, keep at it. If this is what you’re meant to do, you’ll know it. It’s not an easy path, it comes with a lot of rejection, but that’s all part of it. Just keep going.

Lastly, be willing to take risks in your writing. Try new things. Don’t worry too much about pleasing people. Please yourself by saying what you find important to say.


Anne Leigh Parrish’s newest novel, “The Hedgerow” Will be available July 9, 2024, from Unsolicited Press. You can find her print books on the Anne Leigh Parrish website, except for “All Roads That Lead From Home,” which is only available on Kindle.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email