Heather King and Addiction as Spiritual Thirst

Heather King’s discusses her memoir, converting to Catholicism, leaving the law and freedom.

memoir-parchedIn 2006, author Heather King published her book, Parched. The memoir focused on the two decades of her life she spent as an active alcoholic.

Parched has been featured as a favorite addiction memoir by many, including The Fix.Since becoming sober, King has made an enormous life shift. From two decades as a blackout alcoholic to a sober Roman Catholic, King has lived many lives over the course of her almost 64 years and experienced numerous trials, including cancer. I had the opportunity to interview her recently about alcoholism, writing, spirituality, and the meaning of life.

Your recovery memoir Parched was published in 2006. You had been sober for some time by then. What moved you to write it?

I’d been sober 18 years when I wrote Parched, which is not a recovery memoir, but a memoir about addiction as spiritual thirst. By that time, I had a viewpoint that was very different from the viewpoint of my drinking years, which basically consisted of self-pity and depression. The impulse came from a spontaneous overflow of gratitude—plus, I had some good jokes.

Was the process of writing about that time in your life therapeutic?

No, I have never written for any kind of therapeutic purpose. My obligation as a writer is to have emotionally, spiritually, metaphysically worked through the central conflict of the story, to the point where I have something useful and interesting and human and hopefully funny to say about it.

Considering the book’s title, do you see addiction as an ineffective manner in which people attempt to quench a different type of thirst?

For me, alcoholism was not so much a “manner” as a way of being, an organizing principle, my identity, my god. But yes, I chose the title Parched in part because it evokes spiritual thirst. Religion comes from Latin roots meaning “to bind back together.” In that sense, the first time I drank was a religious experience. I felt at one with myself, the other people around me, and the universe. Unfortunately, it was a false religious experience. But of course, I didn’t know that at the time. Read more “the fix”…


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