Q&A with Susan Wiggs
This is book #9 in this series, are there any new challenges when writing a series that has so many books in it?
SW: Wow, yes! As the series builds, it’s like a real town growing organically. New people and places keep showing up, so for me, the biggest challenge is to keep them all straight. It’s also a balancing act to put enough hints of former characters and storylines into the current book without being contrived about it. I seem to run the books like life in a small town–whom would they naturally encounter in their day-to-day life? In RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE, Sonnet reconnects with many former characters as she struggles withe dramas that await her. She goes to the library for information, and meets Maureen from CHRISTMAS AT WILLOW LAKE. That sort of thing.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
SW: The first draft. I write it all out in longhand, and it feels very organic and crafty, as if I am spinning gold out of straw or something. I can’t say it’s a pretty sight, but there is no better feeling than a new story unfolding for the very first time.
Do you have a favorite character in this series? If yes, who and why?
SW: Barkis, in SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE, because I liked the name so much I adopted a dog of my own and named him Barkis. I borrowed the name from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Barkis was a cart driver who proposed to Peggoty the pie lady by saying, “Barkis is willin’.”
Who is the biggest pain to write? Why?
SW: The protagonist of the book, always. It’s because it’s such a huge task to make her interesting and emotional and open to love in a fresh and believable way. She has to seem unique, but also like someone we want to read about for 300 pages.
Congrats on the awards you have won for this series, what advice would you give a writer who wants to see the success you have been blessed with?
SW: Oh, that’s really nice. Thank you. My advice–don’t focus on the success, focus on the story. A writer has to be willing to work harder than she ever thought possible, and chances are, she’ll work in obscurity for a good long time before her books catch hold with readers. (There are exceptions, but you have to assume you’re going to have a long learning curve.) Keep honing your craft, writing story after story, and success will eventually find you.
It has been nearly 2 years since the last book, what happened?
SW: Life happened. The good and the bad. The bad was that my dad fell gravely ill; anyone dealing with aging parents will understand how consuming it is to deal with the worry, the hospitalizations, all the peripheral appointments and such. (He’s doing okay now, btw, but does have Parkinson’s which is challenging.) The good: Lots of it! I wrote two other books, THE GOODBYE QUILT and HOW I PLANNED YOUR WEDDING (with my daughter, Elizabeth Wiggs Maas) so I haven’t exactly been idle. And best of all, I fell in love and got married, which is super good but very VERY distracting.
If you could tell your readers anything, what would you say?
SW: THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. If I could give each and every reader a hug and a Seattle Chocolate Truffle bar, I would. There would be no Lakeshore Chronicles, no Sonnet (at last), no Book #9, nothing…without you. RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE is a book I had to wait to write, but I feel it was worth the wait. I hope you like it.
- ISBN-13: 9780778313847
- Publisher: Harlequin
- Publication date: 8/28/2012
- Pages: 320
Sonnet Romano’s life is almost perfect. She has the ideal career, the ideal boyfriend, and has just been offered a prestigious fellowship. There’s nothing more a woman wants—except maybe a baby brother?
When Sonnet finds out her mother is unexpectedly expecting, and that the pregnancy is high risk, she puts everything on hold—the job, the fellowship, the boyfriend—and heads home to Avalon. Once her mom is out of danger, Sonnet intends to pick up her life where she left off.
But when her mother receives a devastating diagnosis, Sonnet must decide what really matters in life, even if that means staying in Avalon and taking a job that forces her to work alongside her biggest, and maybe her sweetest, mistake—award-winning filmmaker Zach Alger. So Sonnet embarks on a summer of laughter and tears, of old dreams and new possibilities, and of finding the home of her heart.
Return to Willow Lake was a real roller coaster read for me because I was so emotional about the situation that Sonnet’s mother goes through in this book. Sonnet find out that her mother is expecting a baby very late in life and is diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. The breast cancer part of this story hits crazy close to home for me since my mom was diagnosed in June of 2010. I understood completely the feels that Sonnet was having for her mother and it made this read very personal for me. There were many tears for me in reading this story. Bot now on to the rest of this story.
Sonnet is living the perfect life. She has just been offered the job of a lifetime, exactly what she wants to do, she had the perfect boyfriend and things are just great. Then suddenly her mother falls ill and she returns to her hometown of Avalon where things just seem to come unglued. She is somehow dealing with her mother’s illness but her father is very unhappy that she has given up her job to come home to take care of her mother. The story is that her father did not even know she existed until very late into her life and he is running for a huge government position. Her boyfriend, who works on her father’s campaign, knows that the media is going to expose this fact and try to use it against him. This causes all kinds of issues. I did not like this perfect boyfriend from the very first moment he appeared in the story. He was just a jerk. Sonnet on the other had was such a great person and I just could not picture them together.
Knowing that she must work while she is in Avalon she take a job on the set of television show with the man she views to be her biggest mistake, Zach. Here is where I got myself into trouble, I loved Zach from the very first page he appeared on. I just knew that no matter how hard Sonnet would fight against a relationship that it just had to happen. There are so many interesting twists and turns in Return to Willow Lake.
As always Susan Wiggs provides and outstanding story and one that was worth waiting for. Be sure to check this one out!