There is a mystery in Wildwood Creek’s history, a mystery that affects Allie’s present…
Paperback, 384 pages
February 4th 2014 by Bethany House Publishers
When strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, everyone in Wildwood, including Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set, Blake Fulton, seems to be hiding secrets, and Allie doesn’t know who she can trust. If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself . . . with the most unthinkable results.
Please tell us a little bit about you.
Lisa Wingate is a journalist, inspirational speaker, reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and the author of over twenty novels. Her novels combine elements of history, romance, mystery, and women’s fiction with nuggets of Southern culture, from the sublime to the humorous. She is a seven-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her works have been selected for Booklist’s Top Ten List in 2012 and in 2013. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Visit Lisa at her website: http://www.LisaWingate.com
I’m a mom with an empty next. One son has moved on into adulthood after college. He has a great job (yay!) and lives close enough to visit easily. Man-child number 2 is in his first year at college, having all the fun he can stand, and he’s far enough away that the visits aren’t as frequent :o(. Hence, the nest is empty, so hubby and I have moved on to the next stage of live with an adorable Empty Nest Therapy Puppy. Huck (short for Huckleberry Finn because he’s a literary dog) is a darling (and fabulously smart, we’re sure) tri-colored Havanese. He’s learning all the complex requirements for being a writer’s assistant, including sleeping near the computer table for hours on end, contributing brilliant comments to the Facebook page, making random story suggestions, and occasionally saying, “You’ve been in that chair for hours, Woman, get up and feed me, for heaven’s sake!” During breaks he gives hugs (really!), gets me outside for walks, and allows me to marvel at his ridiculous cuteness.
Here is a link to Huck — just helping out.
Why did you choose to pursue the art of writing?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I started writing books before I started school, and I never quit writing. I had a very special first grade teacher in Peasley Schoool in Northborough, Massachusetts, who recognized a little ability and a lot of desire in a shy transfer student. Mrs. Krackhardt wrote on my report card that she expected to see my name in the pages of a magazine one day, and I suddenly felt incredibly special. She started reading my stories to the class, and I was hooked. I quickly discovered the joy of having an audience, and set out on many, many writing projects. Even though I always dreamed of becoming a writer, I didn’t begin pursuing the goal in earnest until after college, marriage, a career as a journalist and technical writer, and then the birth of my oldest son, (ordered girl, got boy, fell in love with boy).
My grandmother came to stay with me when the baby was small, and together we decided to plant flowerbeds in front of my house. One day, when the baby was fussy, we had to go inside rather than finishing the flowerbed. Grandma bundled the baby and sat down in the chair with him, and soon he was quietly drifting off to sleep. As the afternoon sun streamed in the window, Grandma leaned back, closed her eyes, and began telling me the story of her life, and her flowerbeds, and the lessons she learned there. That story, “Time for Tending Roses,” eventually became the inspiration for my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, which was published by New American Library (Penguin Putnam) in June, 2001.
What was the inspiration for Wildwood Creek?
I think we all have mysteries that linger in our family histories or in our hometowns. Those tales are told at family gatherings, in the corners of local cafés, and around cook fires at Scout campouts. It’s impossible not to wonder, when hearing the retellings of things that have been passed down by word-of-mouth for generations, how much is true? What real events inspired this story? Was it only spun in the mind of some cowpoke looking to entertain along the trail or were there real people involved? Who were they? What happened to them? Would it ever be possible to investigate and find out the truth?
In some way, we’re all captivated by the idea of finding an unexpected connection to history — a hidden treasure in a family trunk, an old journal at an estate sale, a letter that has somehow traveled through time. Wildwood Creek is a tale about a thoroughly modern girl drawn into discovering the story, and clearing the name, of a woman who lived and died long before. Despite the century and a half that separates Allie Kirkland and Bonnie Rose, there are striking similarities between them, both physically and in terms of their struggles with life, faith, and trust. Though the trappings of civilization change as centuries pass, the human heart does not. Wildwood Creek is a story about two different time periods, but it’s also a story about the things that are timeless and those are the things that matter most.
What kept you going throughout the writing process?
There were two interest challenges in writing Wildwood Creek, and both of those challenges both fascinated me and stretched me as a writer. After twenty-one books, it’s still good to find things that pull you into new territory and force you to expand. Wildwood Creek did both of those things for me.
The challenge first was definitely the research. Because there is an ongoing modern story interlaced with an ongoing historical story, both contemporary and historical research were required. Putting the story together necessitated everything from learning about how frontier reenactment docudramas — like the PBS Frontier House series — might be filmed and arranged, to learning what the actual frontier life of the young Irish schoolteacher, Bonnie Rose, might have been like during the Civil War era in Texas. A fair bit of study on available means of transportation, clothing, cooking methods, and Texas politics of the time period was also required. While there was a great deal of research involved, I loved every moment of it. So often while I worked on the story, I lost myself in the lives of Allie and Bonnie. The best stories are the ones that completely transport you to another place, another time, another life.
The second challenge in writing Wildwood Creek involved the actual threading together of Allie and Bonnie’s stories. Their journeys — the historical and the contemporary — physically mirror one another, so that both first see the actual Wildwood townsite at the same point in the story, both are lulled by its beauty, both are caught in its dangers. Syncing the two stories was a challenge that kept me writing and working to bring it together, but I was literally fascinated and completely caught up in the remote and mysterious town of Wildwood, past and present, each time I sat down to work.
Is there a singular character that really touched your heart and why?
I fell in love with both of the main characters in Wildwood Creek. The idea of two women sharing connected experiences, in two different time frames separated by 150 years drew me into the characters because I have that love of history and the connection to those who have gone before. Allie, the main contemporary character embodies a bit of my own hidden dream in her opportunity to join the historical reenactment — to go back in time. The idea fascinates me. I think I’d love to do it, but the reality probably is that after a few days without air conditioning, a microwave, and hot showers, I’d probably be ready to go home again.
Bonnie Rose, the historical character is the survivor of a painful and tragic ordeal. Because of all she has been through, she suffers from a terribly damaged perception of herself. She sees herself as unworthy of love, as permanently tainted. This is not an uncommon perception for survivors of childhood abuse, sexual or otherwise. So much of her journey is about learning that she can let go, that just as she has chosen to carry the shame, she can choose to let it go.
So, for very different reason I was compelled by both Allie and Bonnie.
Can we expect to hear more from these characters in the near future?
My imaginary friends tend to linger in my mind and I wonder, as my readers do, what these characers are doing now. Occasionally, I’ll put a small cameo appearance in a future book to update my readers about a character, so I won’t give a definite no, but there are no plans for Allie or Bonnie at this point. Wildwood Creek is the last Moses Lake book in my queue.
How has this story touched your life?
Because the book is set on a lake, I was forced to take my lawn chair and my inner tube and suffer through numerous days of sitting by the water, watching flocks of egrets fly over and letting the wind blow through my hair. It was tough duty, but I am hopelessly devoted to my art and willing to endure whatever it takes to get the setting, and the culture surrounding it, exactly right. It’s a lot to ask of a writer, but I’ll put in my time, no matter how long I have to listen to the waves gently lapping at the shore and watch happy families coming and going from the picnic grounds. Did I mention that I’m hopelessly devoted to my art?
More seriously, there’s a bit of me in the setting, of course. I love Texas. I love its history of an independent past. I love that many small towns still claim an ethnic affiliation to various countries in Europe. I also love the fact that Texans are famous for their bold hearts, brash personalities, and tall tales. Storytellers abound here and the tale of Wildwood is the sort of story you might hear being passed around. It’s also, for me, an important story in that unthinkable evil has such a strong grip on Wildwood Creek, and one man’s evil is allowed to flourish simply because the masses refuse to confront it. The fate of Wildwood Creek was a reminder to me that good people can’t just be passively good, they must act on their beliefs. When good is passive, evil wins the day and eventually all suffer for it. That’s the larger truth of the story
Beyond that, there are the thoughts and reactions now coming in from early readers, and those always touch me. That’s the weaving of the story circle. Something ignites in the writer, inspires the story. It travels out into the world, and readers combine it with their own thoughts, feelings, experiences. Suddenly the story becomes larger, broader, a combination of two minds, then four, then eight, and so forth. I love knowing what readers have taken from a story. That’s the ultimate completion of the circle.
February 10 – March 2nd US Only
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1 Winner, 1 Amazing Prize Pack:
$50 Amazon Gift Card
Print copy of Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate
Handmade-by-author Prayer Box with notepads
Follow the rest of the tour!
2/11: LDS and Lovin’ it
2/12: Mythical Books
2/13: Kelly P’s Blog
2/14: Mel’s Shelves
2/16: Brooke Blogs
2/18: My Devotional Thoughts
2/19: Getting Your Read On
2/22: Grand Finale
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