Lea Wait

Questions for Lea


Which do you like better – writing for children or for adults?
I love doing the research for historical novels, and hope the adventures I write for young people will help them understand America’s exciting past, and perhaps encourage them to find out more. Writing for adults has its challenges, too. I like varying the pace of my work from one genre for another; it ensures that each project is fresh and exciting for me.

What should readers know about your historical novels?
So far they’re all set at least partially in Wiscasset, a village 50 miles north of Portland, Maine. I wanted to show how one town changed through the 19th century. And although the major characters in my books are fictional, many of the minor characters are people who actually lived in Wiscasset, and events in the books really happened. (See the historical notes at the back of each novel.) Also, I’m a stickler for historical authenticity: I even use old dictionaries to check the words in my books to make sure I’m using them correctly for the period.


Lea with grandchildren Maddy, Henry and AJ

What about your mysteries? Do you have to do research for them?

Absolutely! I have shelves of books on laws and forensics and poisons and weapons, and lists of names to call if I have questions on topics I can’t find the answers to. I’ve attended forensic conferences (which are great fun, by the way, as long as you don’t mind seeing some pretty graphic pictures,) and shot a semi-automatic at a gun range, met dogs trained to sniff out drugs or bodies, and talked to FBI agents and medical examiners. I’m no expert, but I know a lot more about crime, and how to detect it, than I did before I started writing mysteries. And I learn more every time I write another book.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies. I’ve written a book in two months. (That was crazy, though!) On the other end of the scale, once I took almost a year just to do the research for an historical. If I’ve done my planning and research ahead of time and I can focus my time on writing, it takes me three to four months to write and edit a book.

Who are your favorite authors?

When I was a child my favorite author was Louisa May Alcott. In fact, when I grew up I became a writer and adopted older children, as Jo did in Little Men! Children’s authors I admire include Patricia MacLachlan, Cynthia Voigt, Katherine Paterson, Hilary McKay, Cynthia Lord, Mildred Taylor, Karen Hesse – and so many others! Favorite mystery authors include Margaret Maron, P.J. Parish, S.J. Rozan, Kate Flora, Paul Doiron, Carolyn Hart, Louise Penny, Linda Fairstein … it is so hard to choose.

What’s the hardest part of writing?

Sitting down and writing the first draft. Keeping at it; putting one word ahead of the next even if I’m tired or have a headache or would rather be taking a walk or sharing a sunset with my husband or talking on Skype with my grandchildren.

What part of writing do you like best?

Editing! I love paring down my words, finding the best way to express a thought, and making a manuscript come as close as I can to the way it should be. Editing is what makes a story sing.

Do you write every day?

I wish I could! But I’m married, I have 8 wonderful grandchildren, and my husband and I have an antique print business. I visit schools and bookstores and libraries. Plus I have research and planning to do before I write, and editing afterward. And I blog at www.mainecrimewriters.com So although every day, seven days a week, I spend many hours related to writing, I don’t work on a new manuscript every day. When I’m writing a first draft I try to stop as much as I can in my life except the book, and write from 9 in the morning until dinner time, and sometimes after. My patient husband does the cooking and errands, and says I’m in a different world then. He’s probably right.



Granddaughters Samantha and Vanessa

 




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