beach reads

May 31, 2019 | Leave a comment

If I wrote it on a beach, does that make it a “beach read”?

Nosy questions for readers–

What’s in your summer book bag?

Do you actually read at the beach?

Is there a difference between “beach read” and just a “good read“?


#SummerReading #AmReading #beachreads #TheOysterVilleSewingCircle

memorial day :: lest we forget

May 27, 2019 | Leave a comment

From @Bookpage, a flashback to my conversation with Sandy Huseby about The Ocean Between Us, my tribute to the military families who struggle to keep their bonds strong during challenging times. The simple vows “for better, for worse . . . ’til death us do part” have a special meaning for couples who face lengthy separations as a result of military deployments. Grace, the Navy wife at the center of The Ocean Between Us, finds the challenge of sustaining her 20-year marriage takes on bittersweet urgency when a catastrophe on her husband’s aircraft carrier threatens to separate the couple forever.

The Ocean Between Us by [Wiggs, Susan]

BookPage: What compelled you to write this book? Do you have a military background?

Susan Wiggs: Not at all! Researching this, I felt like an anthropologist studying another culture. The military is definitely a world apart. The book I wanted to write was the story of a woman and her marriage a good marriage. Novels about bad marriages abound, but I find the idea of a good marriage that is severely tested much more interesting.

Then I went in search of my characters. Who was this woman? Where did she live? Who was she married to? What will make this story special? That’s when I hit on the military angle for this book. The U.S. Navy is a huge presence here in Puget Sound. It’s common to be driving along on Bainbridge Island, and pulling over to watch an aircraft carrier steaming toward its home port of Bremerton. In fact, I stood in the freezing wind one day to watch the Carl Vinson come home after its post-9/11 deployment.

One of my dearest friends and fellow writers, Geri Krotow, is a Navy wife. The day I saw her fix a Command Pin on her husband’s chest at his Change of Command ceremony, I was so moved by the gesture that I knew this would be the right background for The Ocean Between Us. The bravery and sacrifice of Geri and her family touched my heart.

What have you learned about marriage through writing this story?

I have a vivid recollection of writing a scene in The Ocean Between Us in which Grace and Steve say goodbye just before he boards the aircraft carrier for a six-month deployment. In the scene, they’ve just had a huge falling-out, and they’re estranged. It’s a very sad scene and I remember thinking, “Wiggs, you’d better find a way to fix this situation!”

Now it occurs to me that the marriage of the people in this book, which I think is a very good marriage subjected to some terrible pressures, reflects what I believe about marriage and commitment. The good ones are worth fighting for.

What have you learned about writing through telling this story?

That the best way to tell a story is the way that gives the reader the best possible ride. This story doesn’t unfurl chronologically. It starts with a huge, dramatic event, then goes back and reveals the steps that led to that moment. Then the story finishes with the fallout from the big drama. It was an interesting challenge to write, and I’m hoping it’s compelling for the reader.

What do you hope readers learn about military families from this book?

Without ramming it down their throats, I do hope The Ocean Between Us is an honest look at the benefits and the costs faced by families in the military. It’s often a good news/bad news situation. For example, people on deployment are exempt from paying income tax. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the reason for the exemption is that they’re in harm’s way.

#MemorialDay #militaryfiction #NavyWives @harpercollins

Map of the Heart Read-Along

May 16, 2019 | Leave a comment

Join me this month as we read through MAP OF THE HEART together. For a full schedule download the discussion guide below:

Some backstory:

In MAP OF THE HEART, each of the characters is searching for an identity. Camille breaks open a long-held family secret. In the twilight of his life, her father finally reconciles his past with his hidden dreams. Camille’s daughter, Julie, learns to deal with bullying. And Finn, the incredibly appealing love interest, has been on a lifelong quest to know the father he lost before he was born. As the title implies, the journey is both literal and metaphorical.

As with all my novels, all is liberally sprinkled with romance, food, and wine!

Opening lines:

Of the five steps in developing film, four must take place in complete darkness. And in the darkroom, the timing was everything. The difference between overexposure and underexposure sometimes came down to a matter of milliseconds.

Three fun facts about the book:

1. When he read the book’s dedication, my husband Jerry got very misty-eyed.

2. My research trip for MAP OF THE HEART is documented here:

3. I “tuckerized” two names in this book. (Tuckerize–the writer’s term for stealing names.) Tavia is in marketing at HarperCollins, and Malcolm Finnemore (Finn) is named after our friend Riaz Finnemore, who is ridiculously handsome and charming in real life.

A bit about the characters:

Like all the characters I make up, the protagonist works in a field I find fascinating. She’s a forensic photo and film expert, renowned for her ability to rescue and restore film that is decades old and unravel the mysteries within. What surprised me about Camille is that, despite having survived a horrific tragedy as a young woman, she retains her sense of humor and optimism.

If the book is optioned for a movie (and it certainly should be, if you ask me!), I’d love to see this scene dramatized–the main characters meet in an explosive scene–she screws up his one-of-a-kind film and he tears her a new one over it. When cooler heads prevail, they get to know each other a little bit:

“Call me Finn.”

She took another sip of wine, eyeing him over the rim of her glass. “You look like a Finn.”

“But not a Malcolm?”

“That’s right. Malcolm is totally different.”

He grinned, flashing charm across the space between them. “How’s that?”