Happy September! I don’t know if you realized, but we here at Women’s Fiction Writers (oh, who am I kidding, it’s only me) took the month of August OFF from blogging. I’ve been blogging since 2006—so I thought it was time for a little summer slow-down, at least when it came to the blogosphere.
But…here we go again! And with gusto! I have amazing authors to share with you as we head into the last months of 2014, as well as great tips, and information, and some exciting stories of my own. Keep checking in. You won’t be sorry.
We’re kicking off Fall (September = Fall) with Lorrie Thomson and the release of her second novel, WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND. I had the pleasure and honor of reading this book a while back and offering an endorsement (blurb):
“Still reeling from the sudden death of her son, Luke, innkeeper Abby Stone meets Rob, and then Tessa, two people who make Abby examine her life and her future. Abby also grapples with the lure of her first love, Charlie, and the lore surrounding a father she’s never known. WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND is an emotionally satisfying blend of heartache, hope, and happiness.”
Not only does Lorrie write classic women’s fiction, she’s a great supporter of other women’s fiction authors. Lorrie was the first person (and I don’t know if she knows this) to send me a photo of THE GLASS WIVES out in the wild when it was released in May 2013! Can’t ask for more than that!
Below, Lorrie shares with us some insights, her process, and a little about what’s next.
Please welcome Lorrie Thomson back to WFW!
Author Lorrie Thomson Plays The What-If Game, And Doesn’t Believe In the Sophomore Curse
Amy: Welcome back to Women’s Fiction Writers, Lorrie, and congratulations on your second novel, WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND. Before we get into the specifics of your main character, Abby, and the wonderful story you’ve told, can you tell us if “the sophomore curse” was true for you? What was it like writing your second novel as opposed to your first?
Lorrie: Thanks so much for inviting me back! I’m delighted to be here, discussing WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND.
Knock on wood, I don’t believe in “the sophomore curse.” In some ways, writing the second novel was easier. Now, before you race to your fridge for a carton of eggs to lob at your monitor—never a good idea, notice that I said easier, not easy. I wrote and revised my debut off-and-on for about eight years. Each time I added a layer, I had to go back to that story place and reacquaint myself with the characters.
I had a year and a half to write WHAT’S LEFT BEIND, no time to lose sight of the story. And the characters never left my side.
Amy: Now, onto the story. Abby suffers a great loss, the death of her eighteen year old son. How did you decide this was the loss—or the inciting incident—of the story?
Lorrie: When plotting my novels, some things never change.
I played the what-if game, and challenged myself to arrive at one, or more, of my greatest fears. What if a single mom tragically lost her only child? What if, months later, that son’s pregnant girlfriend landed on the mom’s doorstep? What if the grieving mom had to, once-again, face the challenge of raising a child on her own?
Worse, what if she never got the chance?
Amy: On a lighter note, Abby runs a B&B (and it runs her life too). Tell us how you came up with this setting (my WIP is set at an inn, though much different than yours) and if you had to do any “research” to get all the details right. ;-)
Lorrie: Each summer, when my three children were small, my husband and I would bring them to Hermit Island in Phippsburg, Maine for camping adventures. And each year, we’d drive by EdgeWater Farm Bed and Breakfast, a sprawling old New Englander, with extensive perennial gardens.
I set the novel in a Casco Bay, Maine B&B, because I’ve an affinity for old houses and rural seashore settings, and an interest in hospitality. Of equal importance to the story, Abby’s vocation poses a challenge to her healing. How can she properly care for herself, when her job requires that she put her grief aside and care for others?
As soon as I came up with the B&B setting, I had to book a room at the EdgeWater Farm B&B, and I asked innkeeper Carol Emerson whether I could interview her for the inside scoop. Carol ran me through her daily drill and shared the trials and joys of running a bed-and-breakfast. Candid talks, comfortable accommodations, and delicious breakfasts. Research is such hard, and tasty, work!
Amy: I hope you don’t wince when you read this question, but how do you write your novels? Some authors outline, some don’t. Some authors write every day and adhere to a word count. Some don’t. The only thing that is certain, to me, is that this is no one way to write a novel. So, what’s the Lorrie way?
Lorrie: I agree with your assertion that there’s no one way to write novel!
I write anywhere from five to seven days a week, depending where I am in the process. As I near–as in race—toward a deadline, I increase the number of writing days and the word count. At the start of a novel, I might write 1,000 words a day, but by those last chapters, I’m going for a solid 1,750, approximately seven pages.
Each novel I write starts out with a synopsis, a ten-ish page story roadmap. Then the real fun begins. For every scene, I handwrite notes, copy those notes down in a Word doc, so I can actually read them, and let the imagination flow. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is discovering scenes not imagined in the synopsis. Another favorite? Unveiling the characters’ inner workings.
Amy: Can you share with us if you’re working on a new novel or what is next for you?
Lorrie: Thank you for asking! Yes, I’m currently racing—writing—toward my deadline.
In a MEASURE OF HAPPINESS, small-town bakery owner Katherine Lamontagne has spent twenty-four years dishing out cakes and comfort and keeping the secret of the son she gave away to herself, until her son comes looking for her, making her reconsider her past and challenging the meaning of family.
The story takes place in Hidden Harbor, Maine, the same fictional town where I set WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND. Although not a prequel per se, the story unfolds in 1999, and contains connected characters Abby, Charlie, and Luke. Most prominently, I take you into the heart and mind of Abby’s best friend, Celeste Barnes.
Lorrie Thomson lives in New Hampshire with her husband and the youngest of their three children. When she’s not reading, writing, or hunting for collectibles, her family lets her tag along for camping adventures, daylong paddles, and hikes up 4,000 footers.