Stopping by My Writing Corner today is Liz Flaherty, author of the new women's fiction book, The Girls of Tonsil Lake. Liz, please tell us a little about your writing journey. How did you get started?
The way a lot of us did, I think. I read a gazillion or so romances and decided I could do that. It was, as you might imagine, a little bit harder than that. I “practiced” for 10 years or so before selling my first book. I’m always amazed—and maybe jealous—when people sell their first manuscripts. Mine had a cast of thousands, more points of view than you could shake a stick at (sometimes in the same scene), and at least one –ly word in every paragraph.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I think I always was one. When I was a little kid, my aunt let me play with her typewriter. One finger at a time, I always wrote stories on it. They were awful—just as my first romance manuscripts were—but I was already a writer.
Tell us a little about your new book, The Girls of Tonsil Lake. What gave you the idea for this story?
It’s a girlfriends book, and it’s hard to say what gave me the idea. The Girls came to me fully developed, which was nice, and then I had to dig for their story. The digging part was fun, though they kept surprising me.
Why did you choose this particular genre?
It’s women’s fiction, and I think it chose me. Make no mistake, I still love romance, but the woman’s journey (with or without a man) is the read I like best. It’s my steak-and-baked-potato of reading.
Where do you come up with your story ideas?
Good heavens, I have no idea. I will say, though, that I’m not one of those whose mind teems with ideas. In a good year, I’ll have a couple.
Do you start your writing with research, characters or a plot idea?
Characters. They lead me to research—which I love. I can’t write historical because all I’d want to do is research. However, I can’t plot my way out of a paper bag.
What do you like best about your hero?
My heroes are always nice guys with flaws. They lean toward being beta, but if the situation demands it, they can do the alpha thing. They won’t like it, though.
What about your heroine?
They’re nurturers, even if they don’t realize it. They’re also flawed, usually funny, and have been hurt. The hurt doesn’t define them, but it’s not all that far below the surface.
What are you working on now?
A story I hope Harlequin Heartwarming loves (they don’t know about it yet) about high school sweethearts who come together 16 years after a prom night accident that irrevocably changed who they were and who they became. It’s fun, except for the abundance of corners I keep writing myself into. If I spent as much time dusting corners as I do writing in them, my mother would be so proud of me!
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing?
That editors are cool people, not scary ones who sit behind their desks and practice being royalty. When my first book was in production, the late and very lamented Kate Duffy called me at home. I jumped out of my chair, almost saluting in my agitation, and said breathlessly, “Oh, Miss Duffy, really?” (Yes, really, I did.) And she said, “Oh, call me Kate.”
Whenever I get intimidated—and I still do sometimes—I remember this woman who was as close to royalty as it got in those days telling a first-time author to “…call me Kate…” and I’m fine.
How about a blurb?
Don’t mind if I do! Here you go:
Four women whose differences only deepen the friendship forged in a needy childhood…
They were four little girls living in ramshackle trailers beside a lake in rural Indiana. They shared everything from dreams to measles to boyfriends to more dreams. As they grew up, everything in their lives changed—except their friendship. Through weddings and divorces, births and deaths, one terrible secret has kept them close despite all the anger, betrayal, and pain.
Now, forty years later, facing illness, divorce, career challenges, and even addiction, the women come together once again for a bittersweet month on an island in Maine. Staring down their fifties, they must consider the choices life is offering them now and face the pain of what happened long ago.
Secrets are revealed and truths uncovered, but will their time together cement their lifelong friendship—or drive them apart forever?
How can readers reach you or find you online?
LOL. All the usual places! I’ll be so glad to hear from them.
Thank you for being my guest today. I look forward to reading The Girls of Tonsil Lake. Are there are any questions or comments for Liz?