"Q&A With Susan Wiggs"
Book: The Oysterville Sewing Circle
Author: Susan Wiggs
Photo by: Susan Doupe
"Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's Talk of the Nation, and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.
From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people. At the age of eight, she self-published her first novel, entitled "A Book About Some Bad Kids."
Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries. Her recent novel, Marrying Daisy Bellamy, took the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and The Lakeshore Chronicles have won readers' hearts around the globe. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature.
She lives with her husband and family at the water's edge on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking." (Source: www.amazon.com)
1. Growing up did you ever have anything similar to the Sewing Circle? If not, do you wish you did?
I did! I went through a phase where there was a "club" for everything -- lost dog rescue, roller skating, dolls with freckles, copying poetry with fancy writing, acting out scenes from favorite books, you name it. Apparently, I was always drawn to the idea of girls (they were always all-girl clubs) coming together for a common purpose.
2. Has your book sparked any Sewing Circle type women’s groups that you know of? If yes, how cool is that?!
Not that I know of, but the book was just published this week. I would love to hear that it inspired a group, virtual or real world. It can be very empowering and motivating to get together with people who share a mission and want to discuss issues.
3. What character in the book do you see yourself the most in and why?
Believe it or not, Will. Unlike Caroline, he was never rooted in small-town life the way she was. Instead, he was a Navy brat, going from post to post throughout his childhood.
My dad wasn't in the military, but we lived overseas when I was growing up. And he was a math teacher, as I was right out of graduate school. Some of the words out of his students' mouths are drawn from memories of my teaching days.
4. This book has a lot of themes and situations happening throughout the story; how were you able to balance these ideas while composing the entire story frame?
Gah, it was like putting an octopus in a box sometimes. Or maybe making a crazy quilt. As in real life, the book was messy and disorganized -- until the revision stage. That's when I separated all the disparate threads (pun intended for sure!) and wove them together into a cohesive narrative. I think doing so gives the story texture and power.
5. What do you hope readers take away from ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’?
First and foremost, I want them to feel they've been well entertained and that the story was worth the time they gave to it. And due to the themes of the story, maybe their awareness will be raised about these issues, and they'll be more apt to reach out to someone, maybe say something, or lend a hand.
6. What is it about fashion that connects these women? Do you think they would’ve been able to bond in the ways that they did if fashion wasn’t their center connecting point?
It's a fact of life -- women love clothes. All styles, shapes, sizes -- what we put on tells the world who we are. I do think they would have come together over other common points if not for fashion, but a shared interest is always a great place to start connecting.
7. Why did you feel that including a suspenseful undertone was important to intertwine into ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’?
There is so much competition for our attention these days, thanks to the internet, streaming services, podcasts, social media, you name it. A book is a quiet retreat from all that -- but when it's up against all the bells and whistles, it has to provide first-class entertainment. Adding a ticking clock to the plot is one way to do that.
8. ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’ addresses plenty of heavy subjects such as abuse and addiction. Why do you believe it is important for authors to discuss these topics and have these types of conversations in their books?
I don't know if it's important for other authors. We're all fiercely individualistic and we all have our path. For me, the book felt important because it sparked such powerful emotions in me as I was writing it, and as I talked with women about their stories, it motivated me to dig deeper.
9. What are 3 character traits that, your main character, Caroline has that you think all women should encompass? Or at least attempt to obtain?
Well, I wouldn't presume to say any woman should embody a particular trait on my say so. But Caroline becomes the woman she was meant to be thanks to her strongest traits -- self-confidence, humanity, and creativity.
10. In ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’, Caroline "when a door is slammed shut in front of her face, a window with a new opportunity opens up" to her and Caroline is able to move on to make the best of her new situation and environment. What is your advice to people going through similar situations of adapting and finding new life opportunities?
It's NEVER too late to start something new. If something doesn't work out -- a relationship, a job, a living situation, even a marriage -- don't beat yourself up over it or force yourself to stay in something that your gut is telling you is untenable. Switch directions and move ahead. Do what it takes to find your lane.
11. How much research went into ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’?
I always do a ton of research for my books and end up with way more information than I need. I prefer it that way, though, because it adds texture and depth to the world of the story. For this book, the research was a pleasure because my adorable husband Jerry is an award-winning apparel designer. And the kids' designs in the story are based on Jerry's. And our granddaughter Clara is his #1 model. You can see them online here: http://www.j-stitch.com/
12. You have a very extensive and impressive catalog of published work. Is ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’ different from anything you have written in the past?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that there is a powerful storyline involving a women's group. And no in the sense that it's a Susan Wiggs book with a dramatic story about family, friends, and falling in love. And food. There is always yummy food in my books. See my blog for some of the recipes.
13. How has your ability to tell a story changed and developed over the years?
I wish it has become easier but it hasn't! Why IS that??? I would say that in 32 years of being a published writer, the process has become more familiar to me. I no longer panic when I can't work out a problem or when the words don't come.
14. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Step away from the manuscript. Do something active -- take a hike, a bike ride, work in the garden, draw a picture, get out in nature. And of course, reach out to your writing friends and mentors -- literary agent, editor, writers group, fellow readers...
15. What’s the best book you have read in 2019 thus far?
Wow, I'm stumped. I've read some incredible books so far and it's hard to pick one.
So I'll mention just a few of them -- one is ROAR by Cecelia Ahearn -- very empowering!
And then there's DIGITAL MINIMALISM by Cal Newport, on taming the internet.
And I find myself recommending TONY'S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani to everyone who loves a damn good story.
16. Although ‘The Oysterville Sewing Circle’ was just released, what’s next? Do you have any new story ideas brewing that you plan on telling in the near future?
Always. I'm finishing up THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP, which will be out in Summer 2020. A woman inherits a vintage bookstore in San Francisco and discovers lost pieces of her family's past in hidden places.
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Facebook: Susan Wiggs
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