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I love when people ask me questions about books, writing and reading.
10 Questions for Susan Wiggs
1. What was your favorite book as a child?
SW: I loved so many books as a child, it’s hard to narrow it down. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss was the first I bought with my own money. I sobbed over You Were Princess Last Time about a girl whose mean sister cut off her long, beautiful hair (I had long, beautiful hair.). Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was one I read again and again. The whole world is in that book–life, death, friendship, family, loyalty, humor, pathos, suspense, drama and an uplifting ending…everything I hope readers find in my own books.
2. What is your favorite book right now?
SW: An unfinished novel called Daisy+Logan+Julian, by my favorite author (me). I’m not being facetious; I really do love this book and I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. It’s about continuing characters from past books, and I can’t wait to write their story. But I do have to wait, because I have other deadlines to meet. Soon, though!
3. What book do you like to give away as a present?
SW: I Like You by Amy Sedaris–it’s everyone’s childhood in one big, funny book. Meeting God In Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith is a comforting book about walking, meditation and prayer. And Literary Feasts, a cookbook with photos and recipes by famous authors with an intro by chef Greg Atkinson; the proceeds go to raise money for libraries.
4. What book are you reading right now?
SW: The Reserve by Russell Banks, about privileged families at an Adirondack Mountain retreat in the 1930s. It’s wonderful! And Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, who passed away suddenly this August. Wonderful book on storytelling.
5. What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t yet gotten around to?
SW: The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t read it yet.
6. What book would you have liked to have written yourself?
SW: Same answer as #2 above–the book about Daisy from my series, The Lakeshore Chronicles. I wish I was already done with that book! I feel so much pressure to do a good job, I’m almost afraid to start it. I don’t want my readers to feel let down.
7. What book (not your own) should have made the bestseller lists?
SW: Love in Bloom by Sheila Roberts–a book about all the loves that fill a woman’s life. It’s wonderful, the kind of novel you want to share with all the women you know. And Oxygen by Carol Cassella, an absorbing page-turner with a huge heart and many intriguing twists. Both books deserve a wide audience. In the children’s arena, Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee and Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors should have been bestsellers.
8. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
SW: David Copperfield (I’m a sucker for writers in novels), Huckleberry Finn, Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) and Frodo Underhill from The Lord of the Rings. All of them were such strivers; they never gave up. My favorite romantic hero is (no surprise) Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Restraint can be so sexy. I wish someone would explain that to Barkis.
9. Who is your favorite fictional heroine?
SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh–she inspired me to be a writer. Jo March from Little Women –another writer who never gave up on her dream, even when her bratty sister burned her manuscript. I cried harder then than I did when Beth died! And Jane Eyre, who never gave up on love.
10. What is your “guilty” reading pleasure?
SW: I never, ever feel guilty about reading anything. All reading is good. Books that are dismissed as frivolous by some readers can be life-changing for others, so I would never want anyone to feel guilty for reading anything. I sure don’t!
So as you well know by now, I am obsessed by book covers. It’s all part of my obsession with books. Now I need your opinion on an upcoming cover. Just Breathe has a strong, sophisticated cover, clean and light, with a single evocative image:
Next hardcover is Lakeshore Christmas. Marketing-wise, this cover has a big job to do. It needs to straddle the line between a hardcover and the Lakeshore paperbacks. It needs to attract readers who have never heard of me but who might want to give it a try. It needs to be memorable. It currently looks like this:
The shot above is an early mockup that was sent. The title is wrong (no “A”) but the general idea is there. Next we saw the full jacket. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what I think of Barkis’s star turn:
There are a couple of tweaks. The title script is nicer, I think, though my agent wanted my name bigger. There’s a #1 in front of “New York Times” which makes me proud and could be a selling point. I don’t love the text at the very top and hope they’ll move that. It looks cluttered, and remember, we want this to appeal to people who haven’t yet discovered the series, so it’s not much of a hook and might be off-putting to people who don’t want to read a book out of order.
The Lakeshore Chronicles have a “look”–small-town charm in miniature. In that sense, this cover works. It’s a pretty image, too. Reminds me of those little collectible Christmas villages. No complaints about that. The question is, will it stand out? When you view Just Breathe from across the bookstore, the image grabs your attention. The Christmas cover…maybe not. My concern–the eye doesn’t know where to go. To the couple on the bench? The gazebo? There isn’t something strong, standing out. Up against all the other books on the shelf, it might end up looking like wallpaper. At this point, it probably can’t be radically changed, but there could be some tweaking. My thought is maybe they could bring up the light around part of the image–maybe the gazebo and tree?–to give book browsers something to focus on. Better yet, it needs to look like something they want to take home with them. C’mon, put on your art-director hat and chime in.
["Keep Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson]
life is good: nyt-bsl-51709
So here’s why writers don’t get cocky no matter how well their books are selling. The actual work of writing never changes. This is Lakeshore Christmas. Or it will be if I get my revisions done and make my deadline. After I sent this baby off to my publisher, my editor and copy editor had their way with it, and suddenly the baby is ugly all over again. The blue tabs at the tops of the pages are the revisions I’ve accomplished so far. The ones down the side are sections I still need to rewrite. By next week.
Oh, and yes indeed, that is fresh snow you see in the background out the window. Thanks for asking!