I was recently interviewed by the wonderful Mary Louise Wells for a new newsletter dedicated to women’s fiction.
Master Class Faculty: Susan Wiggs by Mary Louise Wells, Craft Editor
This job just gets better and better! I fell in love with Susan Wiggs years ago, after emerging from THE LILY AND THE LEOPARD with a profound sense of awe and a nearly-empty box of tissues. Since her early days of writing historicals, Susan has branched into contemporaries and women’s fiction, picking up awards in each genre, including several of RWA’s RITA awards, and making the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. This December, CHRISTMAS AT WILLOW LAKE, a 2009 release in the LAKESHORE CHRONICLES, was the Currier and Ives-inspired book cover featured through most of the Christmas season to promote sales of the Kindle. The latest LAKESHORE CHRONICLES book, THE SUMMER HIDEAWAY, is a March 2010 release.
Avalon, New York, a jewel-like town on the shores of Willow Lake in upstate New York, is the setting for all of the LAKESHORE CHRONICLES books. Life in Avalon provides readers with glimpses into life in an historic inn, a beloved family bakery, an historic summer camp, and even a frozen youth hockey arena while enchanting us with stories of love, atonement, friendship, and reconciliation.
I had a chance to ask Susan some questions about Avalon, among other things, when she graciously agreed to teach us a little bit about plotting. (If you’re a fan of Daisy Bellamy, do check out her Wordle clue…unless you’re too good at figuring out spoilers and want to keep the Logan/Julian tension simmering!)
ML: Your first published books were historicals, then you switched to contemporary romances. What elements from each of these have migrated into your women’s fiction titles?
SW: Probably the core elements that seem to be present in all my books–a dramatic love story, a smart woman and a man who can only possibly exist on paper. There’s a lot more food in the contemporaries. A new obsession of mine.
ML: You’re a Pacific Northwest girl–what made you decide on upstate New York as the setting of the LAKESHORE CHRONICLES?
SW: I was born in upstate New York and lived there in early childhood. So I have a lot of nostalgia about the area. I never had to deal with driving in the snow there, which keeps it pristine in my mind.
ML: With six LAKESHORE CHRONICLES books in print, one coming out this year (THE SUMMER HIDEAWAY), and another planned for next year (Daisy’s story! Hallelujah!) how do you keep the Avalon setting fresh for each work?
SW: The characters rescue me every time. They always bring something new to the table and show me something surprising about the setting.
ML: The heroine of JUST BREATHE, cartoonist Sarah Moon, made a cameo as an Inn at Willow Lake guest in DOCKSIDE. Did you know at the time that she’d have her own book, or was this an unexpected serendipity?
SW: I knew. It was just a wink to readers. I was so surprised when people noticed. Thank you for noticing!
ML: You have an unusual (for these netbook-infused times, anyway) first-draft process–peacock blue fountain pen ink on graph-paper Clairefontaine notebooks. What about the tactile pen-to-paper method do you find helpful in your writing?
SW: It’s still the most portable method for me, and I never have battery issues. Writing by hand feels sort of crafty and organic, less like work. That’s always a plus.
ML: Inquiring minds want to know: Someone, somewhere, surely is printing up “Team Julian” and “Team Logan” T-shirts for Daisy Bellamy’s book. Any hints on which one you’d wear?
SW: I vacillated for a while. Didn’t really know how things would shake out until I sat down and wrote the synopsis. I put a hint online here: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1493526/Daisy%2BLogan%2BJulian. Wordle.net is such a fun site. Highly recommended for writers!