Welcome Lindsey, we are delighted to have you on Authors Visits.
I am axious to hear the story behind the creation of Still Waters.
This novel really started with a place—Edisto Beach, where my family spent most summers of my childhood. When I first decided I thought I could actually do this, write a book, all I knew was I wanted a story set on Edisto. From there I began to build characters who might be there and to discover what brings them back or makes them stay away. As I grew as a writer, and began to understand how little I knew about novel structure, the plot changed many times, but ultimately it has always been a story of homecoming, relying on the power of family that ties us to a place.
What do you like most about writing? What do you like least?
I love writing as a craft. I love to trip over the words and find the best verb to suit an action or develop a way to make a scene seem to linger—without compromising my word count. I love to see the story escalate and the tension heighten. I love resolution, though plotting is a struggle for me. I’m 100% pantser. But the crafting of a story, nothing about that stresses me out. I even love editing and rewriting, though at times it gets tedious. What I don’t like is the after—the pitching and selling and marketing. I’d really love to have a personal assistant who could do all that for me.
How long did it take to write this book?
Forever it seemed. I started fiddling with this story in 2007. I had two really young daughters and I was teaching middle school. It was the height of the Twilight era and all my students (girls) loved that book. I read it with them so we could discuss it, and I thought, this writer is not that different from me. If she can do this, so can I. But then life happened (two more kids) and along the way, I lost momentum for much beyond sleep. When I picked the story back up in 2014, I still had no idea what I was doing, but I’d been blogging awhile and was more comfortable with my voice. I attended a writers conference, received some positive feedback, and over the next year, completely rewrote the book so it would be ready to pitch. It went under contract with LPC Books in November 2015. So it’s been a long road to publication.
Where did the characters come from?
Nan is modeled after my maternal grandmother whom we called Grandmommy White Hair. She died suddenly the Christmas I was ten, and so much of this story was motivated by the “what if she’d lived” scenario. What would she have been like for me to experience as an adult? She was a true Southern lady and my mother, aunt, and uncle make sure we grandkids remember her and our grandfather. Lou is much sterner and colder than my own mother, but my mom wrangled a passel of kids, too, so they have that in common. Cora Anne and I share a lot of the same qualities—that tendency to hold onto guilt and perfectionism, but she’s way more organized and self-disciplined that I have ever been. Tennessee’s patience and persistence with her are characteristics I borrowed from my own marriage.
What does this book mean to you?
I remember, the day Eva told me she would contract my story, crying so hard because when this story is read, it’s like my grandmother is living again. So much of what I remember—and it doesn’t matter if it’s fact, it’s an impression—is embedded in these pages. My grandparents lived in Colleton County and spent every summer on Edisto after the tobacco was brought in from the fields. We hunted snail shells and made homemade ice cream and she loved to play solitaire. It was so important to me that I get the pace of Edisto right, because it’s a slow place. There’s a phrase I use in the story “an invitation to linger hung among the Spanish moss of the live oaks edging the highway” and for me, that captures Edisto. It’s a place to linger and refresh and let your soul be filled with good food and fun family memories.
What was the hardest thing to write in this story? What was the easiest?
Probably, since I knew I was going to sell CBA, the spiritual takeaway was difficult. I didn’t want to be preachy and I didn’t want to make assumptions about anyone’s faith when they read my book. I just want them to enjoy the story, and if they want to talk about how Cora Anne found her peace, it’s there, but hopefully in a very organic way that rings true of the characters and setting.
The easiest part, for me, was indeed evoking the setting. I researched and read a lot of history, even though it’s not a historical novel. I used this as an excuse to go on vacation and I made notes about what I saw and heard and touched. Edisto is very much a main character of the novel.
What’s next for you in writing?
Well, I have several projects going, including a Christmas novella that gives Hannah and Ben (Still Waters minor characters) a story. I’ve also got a sequel for Still Waters in the works. But an agent gave me some valuable advice to pursue a completely different project because of its strong hook and sale-ability. The new project is more Southern Gothic, really strong narrative drive, teenage protagonist, and all the drama and conflict of a small community split down the county line by a tragedy. There’s football and fried chicken and country music and references to Friday Night Lights and Footloose. It’s really different from Still Waters—not nearly as lyrical—but I’m enjoying the process of creating a completely different world. It’s set in the North Georgia mountains, which is where I’m from, so that’s been fun to make people see what this culture is like, because Appalachia is not the same as the Lowcountry.
Be sure and get her new book, releasing September 2017.
Thank you for visiting today.
Please visit Lindsey at: https://lindseypbrackett.com/