Please give a warm welcome to author of ‘Wake Unto Me’, Lisa Cach! Lisa was kind enough to answer questions about her simply AMAZING book including her research methods, book-dating and what to do with all those ideas that swim around!
Q: How has the reader response been so far for ‘Wake Unto Me’? What has been the highlight of its release?
The biggest joy is always in hearing from readers. Writing is such a solitary profession, you almost forget that the book goes out into the world and really does get read by people. It feels magical when a reader sends an email, saying they loved the book; I save all my fan mail, and really do mean it when I write back and say that hearing from readers is what gives me the motivation to keep writing.
Q: A lot of research clearly went into the story! How did you initially sit down and start scraping together all the details?
I originally was thinking I’d set the story in Switzerland, but as I started looking at the year-round weather there, it occurred to me that that wasn’t such a great idea (too cold!). I eventually settled on the Perigord Noir region of France because of its rich history and its climate. But, I knew so little about the area, I didn’t really know where to begin. So I went there.
My husband and I, and a couple friends, spent two weeks in France, most of it on a self-guided hiking tour through the villages, woodlands, and fields near the Dordogne River. We visited castles, we ate the local food (duck, duck, and more duck), and soaked up both the history and the present reality of the area. We finished the trip with a few days in the Loire Valley, staying in the town of Amboise. We visited several chateaux whose histories related to Catherine de Medici, and I got ideas for both the interior of Chateau de la Fortune and for the story from the palaces we saw there.
Although I can always look up specific pieces of information online, I’m more likely to stumble upon random tidbits that can give me story ideas by actually visiting a place in person.
Q: Did you prefer writing the historical scenes or the modern-day scenes? How hard was it to constantly switch between the two styles?
The actual switching between historical and modern scenes isn’t difficult for me, but I always prefer writing historical and paranormal scenes over straight contemporary. If a scene is set in the distant past, or has paranormal elements, I feel free to follow my imagination where it leads. I have to create those scenes out of whole cloth, as it were; the world that
the characters inhabit is totally imaginary, so anything can happen. In ‘real’ scenes set in the present, I have a tendency to put too many rules on my thinking; I’m always checking the scene against hard reality.
One of the other challenges about writing contemporary scenes is dealing with technology. I could put in as many cell phones, texting, social networking sites, iPads and Kindles and Skyping and whatnot as I wished, but the book wouldn¹t age well. Two years from now, it would feel laughably out of date. If you ever wonder why there isn’t more technology in contemporary books, there’s a good chance that this is the reason.
Q: Authors often have many ideas for stories floating around in their heads; how do you go about picking out which ones are novel-worthy material?
I usually write up a brief description of each idea and send it to my agent and/or editor. They give feedback on which they like, which is useful not for telling me what to do, but for giving me some outside perspective. I had an idea for a YA romantic adventure, for example, which when I first sent it to my agent she rolled her eyes at. Sometimes, if the story idea is weak, this is enough to make me discard it. But this time, something inside me kept saying, “No, no, she’s not seeing what I’m seeing. This is a good idea!”
When I went back to look at the idea I’d sent her, I realized that most of what I was seeing in my head hadn’t made it onto the page, and that the idea needed to be more fully developed. So I rewrote it, and expanded upon it, and now she loves the idea and is shopping it around for a publisher.
I’ve learned to trust my instincts, when I choose my stories. Those instincts are based on twelve years as a novelist, and a lifetime of reading.
Q: I’m always interested in knowing what authors are coming up with next – what’s in store for Lisa Cach?
I’m working on a sequel to ‘Wake Unto Me’, tentatively called ‘Foxfire’. And I’m doing research for the YA romantic adventure, which means taking a trip to Central America; I’m very excited to see Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and a bit of Nicaragua.