Known for her “Lakeshore Chronicles”, Susan Wiggs has been a writer since she self-published her first novel at the tender age of eight. Publishing professionally since 1987,
Tell our readers about your background: where are you from, and what led you to write for a living?
I was born in a little town in upstate New York, very similar to the setting of the Lakeshore Chronicles. My family lived overseas for a number of years, in Brussels and Versailles, France. I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always been a storyteller, for as long as I can remember, so writing novels is a natural fit for me.
Tell us all about Return to Willow Lake.
This is a story straight from the heart, about a young woman who discovers she might just be on the wrong path in life. She has to return home, to the town she couldn’t wait to leave as a teenager, in order to figure out what (and who) she truly wants from life.
What inspired you to write this book?
My readers! I love hearing from them–most congregate on Facebook and they’re incredibly generous in telling me about the stories, conflicts and human dramas that resonate with them.
Tell us about your writing process: how do you write (paper, keyboard, voice recorder)?
I write my first draft in a Clairefontaine grid-rule notebook with a fountain pen using peacock blue ink. I’m not quirky, just a creature of habit. I tend to drag my manuscript along wherever I go.
How do you approach a book (outline, mind-map, just write, begin at the end)? Where do you do your best writing (your office, curled up in bed, in public spaces)?
I create an outline and discuss it with my writers’ group, my agent and editor. Then I put it all away and just dive in and write until the characters seem to take on a life of their own. In RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE, this happened at a very specific moment–when Sonnet goes to meet her dad at a restaurant in New York City. She was so vulnerable at that moment, I could really feel for her.
Most writers are also avid readers. What authors did you read as a child? What authors do you read today? Do you have a favorite book or author?
I read Beverly Cleary, Louise Fitzhugh, and every book I could get my hands on. Since we had an amazing community library my town (which I immortalized in Lakeshore Christmas) I had no end of material to read. One summer, I read a biography from every letter of the alphabet, starting with Jane Addams.
What’s next for Susan Wiggs?
A family trip to Alaska! I always take my novel with me on vacations–is that awful? I just find travel so inspiring that I find myself writing on the road.