For me, stumbling upon an author whose work is new to you is always a wonderful experience. A couple of years ago…I can’t remember how, but I found a book called Lakeside Cottage by Susan Wiggs. The plot sounded ideal and the setting, The Pacific Northwest, being one of my favorite places, got my attention. I had to read this book. I’m glad I did because from then on I was hooked on everything written by this author. Susan writes both contemporary and historical books featuring characters you feel you know personally by the time you’re done reading them. So it’s a great pleasure to have Susan as the debut author interviewee on this new book blog site.
Here is my chat with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Susan Wiggs www.susanwiggs.com
Susan Palmquist (SP)-You once taught math, was it while you were writing your first books and at what point did you decide to switch to writing full time?
Susan Wiggs (SW)-I loved being a math teacher and it was hard to leave that profession. I made the switch to being a full-time writer gradually, going to part-time teaching and eventually, focusing solely on the writing. This was around 1992, I think. The writing deadlines and obligations left me little time for anything else, and I needed time with my family and my life!
SP-Your motivation for writing your first book was you ran out of other books to read. Can you remember what it was about and did it ever get published?
SW-That first finished novel was a historical saga about the Dutch Revolt of the 16th century. Happily, it was never published. Definitely a first effort, but I learned a lot by simply creating the novel.
SP-You write both contemporary and historicals, do you approach them differently? And if you had to pick just one, which would it be?
SW-I approach the writing in the same way. The research for contemporaries probably takes a different journey, but for the most part, the process is the process. I would hate to have to choose between these two beloved genres! For the time being, I am working on contemporary settings.
SP-Anything interesting you’ve discovered while researching a book?
SW-Always! Where do I start? I’ve been reading about Faberge eggs recently. There are eight Imperial Eggs still missing, and an authentic one could be worth 20 million dollars at auction.
SP-You’ve won so many awards, any one that’s more meaningful to you?
SW-Probably RWA’s Favorite Book of the Year, for THE CHARM SCHOOL. Thanks for asking!
SP- You live in the Pacific Northwest and have some breathtaking photos on your Web site. Do you use any of these sites for settings for books? Or do you see something and have it spark an idea for a story?
SW-Probably the latter. I tend to be inspired by unexpected, random images. I feel so lucky to live in a beautiful spot, but when I’m writing, the world is inside my head.
SP-Being an avid cook myself, I especially like your books that include recipes. You obviously love to cook too. Was it your idea to include them or the publishers and are they all your own creations?
SW-It was my idea, and my publisher embraced it. It’s been such fun to connect with readers about food, family and cooking!
SP-You create both wonderful characters and descriptive settings, any tips to pass along to your fellow writers?
SW-Thank you so much! Emerging writers should read like writers, paying attention to the things that move them. Take a risk and put authentic emotion on the page. Write from an honest place inside yourself.
SP-You’ve recently been to France. Care to share what you were researching and what type of book it was for?
SW-I recently returned from a trip to France–St. Cirq Lapopie on the Lot River. The entire ancient town grows out of rocky cliffs above the river, and every inch of the place fascinates me. It’s one of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever seen. I was researching a character’s background for an upcoming contemporary novel. My pictures are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/JayandSusanWiggs/SusanAndSusanInFrance#
SP-You’ve written for just about every big name publisher out there. Any tips for writers just beginning their career?
SW- It’s an old saw, but write the best book you can. Finish it. Polish it. Then find an agent who can take you where you want to go. Never pay anyone a fee. Join a writers’ group if you can. Good luck!
SP- As you look back at your early career is there anything you would have done differently?
SW-Probably not, because I learned from every mistake and success along the way.
SP-What’s ahead for you, any type of story you haven’t tried yet?
SW-Two brand new directions in 2011–a funny, heartfelt memoir I co-authored with my daughter in February (see www.howiplannedyourwedding.com) and a short, emotional novel about a mother driving her daughter to college, called The Goodbye Quilt, coming in May.