Thursday, June 22, 2023

Q&A with Susan Wiggs


Photo by Yvonne Wong


Susan Wiggs is the author of the new novel Welcome to Beach Town. Her many other novels include The Lost and Found Bookshop. She lives on an island in Puget Sound.


Q: What inspired you to write Welcome to Beach Town, and how did you create your character Nikki?


A: Nikki is inspired by a long-ago memory when I gave a commencement speech. I remember gazing in terror at the audience, and wondering, What if I threw away my notes and blurted out something they’re not expecting. (Spoiler alert—I didn’t. But Nikki is braver than I was.)


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: I thought I knew how it would end, but as in every long work of fiction, the story grows and changes along the way. I did want it to begin and end with an outrageous moment of truth, and I think I achieved that. But it played out in a way that was both unexpected and dramatic, even for me!


Q: As the title indicates, the novel is set in a beach town, in California—how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: The setting of a book is almost as important as the characters. It plays such a big role in drawing the reader into a special place and circumstance. Alara Cove (you’ll discover how it got its name in the opening chapter) seemed like the perfect backdrop for the story to unfold.


Q: The writer Kristy Woodson Harvey said of the book, “Readers will savor sunny skies and perfect surf in this stunning new novel, but one thing is for sure: In this Beach Town, there is always more happening than meets the eye.” What do you think of that description?


A: Well, I was blown away by this bit of praise by a new young writer I really admire. In fact, we read and endorsed each other’s books this year! So after reading Welcome to Beach Town, please grab a copy of A Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: At the moment, I am proofreading page proofs for The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, which comes out in mid-October. It features the cutest cover art you’ve ever seen, and it takes place at one of my favorite settings—Willow Lake, in the Catskills.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I hope all readers know how very much I value their attention. It is such a privilege to know that someone I’ve never met is immersed in one of my novels. Readers are the reason I stay inspired and motivated to write. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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