Q&A With Lisa Wingate

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Q&A With Lisa Wingate 


Today’s Q&A is with New York Times Bestselling author Lisa Wingate. Lisa is the author of many historical fiction novels. Some of her novels include, Before and After, The Book of Lost Friends, The Prayer Box,& Before We Were Yours. 


Q: What made you want to write historical fiction? When in your life did you realize being an author is what you were called to do?


A: I have always loved history, especially the undiscovered sort, and as a result stories based in history are my favorite. It’s interesting to consider how history might have shaped our lives today without our knowing it. Writing allows me to take that journey.


 A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, put the idea of being a real writer into my head.  She found me writing a story one day at indoor recess, and she took the time to stop and read it.  When she was finished, she tapped the pages on the desk to straighten them, looked at me over the top and said, “You are a wonderful writer!”  That was a defining moment for me.  In my mind, I was a writer. When your first grade teacher tells you that you can do something, you believe it.


 I was only in her class for a few months before we moved again, but during that time, she left an indelible mark on my life.  It’s funny how we have defining moments in our lives, and that time in Mrs. Krackhardt’s class was one of mine.  For years, I couldn’t have told you what she looked like, or whether she was a young teacher or an old teacher, but I could have told you that she said I was a wonderful writer.  When I left her class, she wrote on my report card, “Keep that pencil working with that wonderful imagination, Lisa!” and  “I expect to see your name in a magazine one day.”  I still have that report card, and I never forgot those words, or the way her confidence in me gave me confidence.  Publishing is a difficult business, but I always believe I could do it, because my first grade teacher told me so.

Q: If you had to choose, which book that you wrote were you the most passionate about?


A: My sentimental favorite will always be my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses. It was inspired by my grandmother, who was a survivor, a woman ahead of her time, and a wonderful storyteller. While the story is fictional, the grandmother’s stories in the book are my grandmother’s stories. 


Grandma came to stay with us for a visit when my first son was tiny.  Together, we planted the flowerbeds around the sterile starter house my husband and I had just purchased.  As we worked, Grandma talked about simple things, like how to wind the roots around an iris bulb, or how to prune the roses.  


When the baby grew fussy, we had to quit working and go into the house.  Grandma took the baby and settled into the rocking chair and told me to hush. Bundling my tiny son on her shoulder, she used the “grandma magic” and soon the colicky baby I could never quiet was drifting off to sleep.  Closing her eyes, she rocked slowly back and forth and began telling me about her life.  She spoke of the rose garden she had planted as a new bride, and how it withered and grew wild when she became a young mother, her time occupied with caring for a family. As she finished the story, she looked out through tears and said, “I can tend the roses from dawn until dusk now, but the best times of my life, the times that passed by me the most quickly, were the times when the roses grew wild.” 


That night, I wrote the story in a notebook. Over the course of our visit, I added others.


A few years later, that notebook generated the idea of embedding these real-life stories within a fictional one—the journey of a grandmother and granddaughter, the passing on of wisdom, the cycle of life. Because that story was so close to life for me, it will always hold a deep and tender meaning.

Q: If you’re writing a new novel now, can you reveal any details?



A: I am, but the details are still under wraps. 😉

Q: What is your advice to new authors on how to deal with negative feedback whether its reviews, online trolls and family members and friends  who are not supportive of your writing goals?


A: Realize that it’s okay to be unhappy, hurt, frustrated and experience the full range of normal emotions when these things happen. You’re only human and in general you’re giving something into the world that was born of blood, sweat, tears, and no small amount of love. It’s glorious when people like the book and support your writing. It stinks when people don’t. 


Ultimately, though, keep it perspective. All readers are individuals, and the book everyone loves hasn’t been written yet. Readers have different likes, dislikes, interests, and prejudices. Sometimes a book hits the reader on the wrong day or touches a personal dislike that has nothing to do with the story. 


Some writer friends tell me they don’t read reviews of their books. I do read. It’s part of the business, and it’s a fact that a writer must look criticism in the face and learn to roll with it.

Q: How do you deal with writers block, and what advice do you give to any aspiring authors who deal with it?



A: I don’t battle writer’s block nearly as much as I battle writer’s laziness. For me, the battle isn’t so much about what to write as it is about getting myself to the keyboard and getting down to business. In terms of getting a book together, I set a page count for myself and I stick to it. Even if I feel that what I’m writing that day isn’t particularly great, I’ve learned to push through it and put words on paper. I can always revise it later, and there’s nothing better than a completed first draft. I don’t think writing ever becomes any easier. Every book is a challenge, and just a bit of a terrifying mystery until the first draft is on paper. In the first draft, I’m finding the characters and the story. In the second draft, I know the characters and the story, and I’m refining the story to send it out into the larger world.

Q: Does Hollywood have any interest or the rights to your novels? I hope they do. Hollywood is in desperate need of originality and there are a lot of books that would make a great movie or TV series. 


A: Before We Were Yours is under option. Of course many books are optioned and only a few end up on screen, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed. I’d love to see Rill’s story come to life!