I recently read and enjoyed Liesel Schmidt’s novel ‘The Secret of Us’ so I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed for my blog. Let’s begin by finding out a bit about her:
Liesel Schmidt lives in Pensacola, Florida, where she spends her time writing, drawing, and reading everything she can possibly get her hands on. She’s currently working on her next novel in between doing the job that keeps the bills paid, busily freelance writing for a list of local magazines that sometimes keeps her head spinning in a dizzy attempt to keep all the deadlines straight! When she has a few free moments, Liesel plunks away at her blog, Finding Words (http://fyoword.blogspot.com/) where she posts product reviews and offers her readers a peek at the inner-musings of a writer slogging her way through the challenges of a creative career.
Having harboured a passionate dread of writing assignments when she was in school, Liesel never imagined that she would make a living at putting words on paper, but life sometimes has a funny way of working out… When she’s not writing, reading or drawing, Liesel likes to indulge her guilty pleasure of watching competition television shows like Top Chef, Chopped, and Project Runway.
Follow her on Twitter at @laswrites or pick up a copy of her novels, ‘Coming Home to You’ and ‘The Secret of Us’, available at amazon.co.uk, amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com
So, let’s see what Liesel told me:
What is your first memory of wanting to be a writer?
I think the idea has been in my head, in some form or another, since I was in high school; but back then I just kind of played around with writing stories. I never thought it would actually lead anywhere. Mostly, it was just a hobby; and I had a horrible habit of never finishing a story once I’d started writing it!
What is your writing routine? Do you have a particular time when you write?
My writing routine is the same everyday, so I guess you could say I’m the most boring person on the planet! I officially start my workday at around 9:00 a.m., after I do my devotions, and I write according to whatever assignments are on my calendar, whether that means web content for the website development company I work with or an article for a magazine. Unfortunately at this stage of the game, my name isn’t well known enough in the book world that I can focus all of my attention on a manuscript, so right now that writing falls to the back burner to be picked up when I have a little bit of free space in the day! Not much of that exists, though; I keep at it until 6:00 p,m., usually. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a workaholic.
What comes first for you, character or plot?
I’m not really sure…the characters develop as the story unfolds, but I start with a general idea of both.
Do your characters ever behave in ways that surprise you?
All the time! It’s funny, because sometimes they do something that completely makes me frustrated, sometimes that do things that make me feel like crying. And there are, of course, many times that reaffirm just why I love them and why I want so badly for others to love them.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
How much time do you have? I love to read novels that have deep, emotional plot lines and well developed characters like the ones written by Jane Green and Fannie Flagg; but I also love the more fun stories that authors like Janet Evanovich, Emily Giffin, Beth Harbison, and Claire Cook write. A love a good book centered around a sassy Southern woman, and I can’t even begin to name all of the British authors I adore. If I’m reading non-fiction, I’m a huge fan of humorous memoirs, so Jen Lancaster is one of my favorites.
If you had a speed date of 1 minute with a reader, what would you tell them about your books?
That they might want to have a few tissues closeby, and that nothing in my books runs to the cliched plot. They’ll think they know what’s going to happen, only to be surprised by what actually does.
What was it like completing your first novel ‘Coming Home to You?’ How did you feel?
Like I’d crossed a major finish line or had a baby! In a way, I did, because each of my books really is my baby.
Both ‘Coming Home to You’ and ‘The Secret of Us’ have references to the military and loss. How much did you need to research these themes and how much are they part of your own experiences?
I didn’t really have to research either one, actually. My father is retired from the Air Force, and the area where I live is greatly centered around the military culture; with that being so much a part of my own life and the way I grew up, it lent itself well to developing my story lines. When it came to the emotional roller coaster of loss, well…I hadn’t actually been through the death of a lover or a husband at that point, but I’m a very imaginative person, and I emulate well with others. When I started writing Coming Home to You, I’d never been in a serious relationship…I’d been through the emotional wringer of loving someone who didn’t love me back and having to deal with the death of a dream in regards to that, but I had to take that pain and put it into the realm of actually losing a lover to death. By the time I finished writing the manuscript, I had had to deal with the unexpected loss of a dear friend, so I built on that as I wrote on. It was kind of therapeutic. In writing ‘The Secret of Us’, I had to draw much more on my imagination, but I still had the foundational emotions and military-life experiences to use. There are definitely many ways that the emotional struggles in the books mirror what was going on in my own head and heart as I wrote, so all of my work is deeply personal.
In ‘The Secret of Us’ Eira has a very close relationship with her mother and sister. Do you think family support is essential for a happy life?
Beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are so many things in my life that I would have never been able to deal with on my own, had I not had their support and strength.
Would people who know you recognize themselves in your writing?
Perhaps, if they looked deep enough…but that’s all I’m going to say on that one!
What are you working on now?
A third manuscript, that I’m dedicating to my grandmother. She was such a special woman, and I don’t think she ever really knew just how special she was. To find out more, you’ll just have to wait and read it when it’s finished!
If you could cast people in a film of your work, who would you choose?
I’d love to have Diane Keaton or Meryl Streep play the role of the mother in either one of my books; Emma Stone would be so perfect as Zoe, but I also think she’d bring Eira to life and make everyone fall in love with her…Unfortunately, most of my favorite actors are too old to play the main characters, so I’d have to do a bit more hunting to know just who to cast for each role.
I’d really like to thank Liesel for spending the time in giving such fantastic responses to my questions. Please check out her links: