Today I have the pleasure of hosting the amazing Jessica Lawson, author of THE ACTUAL AND TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER, NOOKS & CRANNIES, and the newly-released WAITING FOR AUGUSTA! She’s going to give us an inside peek at her new book and tell us a little bit about her writing process.
But first, here’s a little more about WAITING FOR AUGUSTA:
A month ago, Ben Putter’s dad died, and (crazy idea or not) Ben’s certain the lump in his throat is actually a golf ball. The lump won’t go away and it turns out Dad’s not quite gone either. Still warm in his urn, Ben’s father suddenly speaks up to ask why he’s in Alabama instead of sprinkled on Augusta National Golf Club’s 18th hole, the way he always wanted.
Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea (and just maybe it will make that lump go away). As he makes his way to Georgia, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of adventures at every turn.
Between Dad nagging to be put to rest, Noni keeping suspiciously tight-lipped about her past, security patrolling at all hours during the famed Masters tournament, and the lump in his throat staying put, creeping onto Augusta National may not be as easy as Ben originally thought. And letting go of a Dad who’s finally listening is going to be even harder.BW: WAITING FOR AUGUSTA is a story of loss and the search for redemption. What motivated you to write this particular story?
JL: Roald Dahl’s Danny The Champion of the World is one of my favorite books—the father-son relationship in that story is so pure and beautiful, and I’ve always wanted to write a father-son story because of it. Then one day, several years ago, my brother-in-law and husband and I were in the kitchen, talking about where we might want our ashes scattered after we died (a rather morbid conversation, I know). My brother-in-law is a huge golf fan and I jokingly said, “You probably want to be scattered at your local golf course.”He scoffed and replied, “No way! I want to be scattered at Augusta!” (the famous American course where the Masters is played each year). And right there in the kitchen, this little seed was planted, and I eventually merged the father-son idea with my brother-in-law’s comment. The story became one of a son, struggling to fulfill his father’s last wishes—the story of a father and son who didn’t connect very well in life trying to find a mutual sense of understanding under impossible conditions.BW: What comes first for you, plot or characters?JL: Characters always come first, usually along with a setting. Plotting is my nemesis.BW: *fist bump* I’m right there with you, sister. I was really struck by the hints of magical realism in the story. Was that something you intended to put into the story or did it develop from the plot?JL: I think it developed from the plot. Once you stick a talking cremation urn into a story, the rules of reality become more flexible in other areas as well BW: If only the rules of reality were flexible in, like, this reality. The setting is so rich and vibrant. Do you have any ties to the south, good barbecue, or golf? Do you draw on your own life to create your stories?JL: First of all, thank you! I don’t typically draw from my own life while writing (other than borrowing a funny phrase or two from my kids). I’ve never lived in the South, but I’ve loved visiting (I was there last year for the Decatur Book Festival, a fabulous festival outside of Atlanta). I adore barbecue and my husband makes excellent pork on our backyard smoker. I’d love to go on a barbecue tour of the South someday~ each kind of barbecue has its own regional flavor. As for golf, it’s been a steady presence in my life since marrying my husband. I’ve watched more Golf Channel in the last 9 years than you’d believe. I’ve read books about players, golf philosophy, and Augusta National. There are old golf clubs in nearly every room of my house, and my 7YO daughter is entering the local Drive, Chip, and Putt qualifier that (if she advanced enough) ends in a live competition at Augusta National just before the Masters tournament. I’ve kind of fallen in love with the sport without ever having been a player (other than on the driving range).BW: This is your third published novel. What advice do you have for those who are pursuing publication?JL: Don’t give up! I wrote 8 novels before the 9th finally landed me an agent. Find friends who will be supportive and lean on them during tough times (and there are plenty, even post publication).BW: You’re speaking my language. “Don’t give up” and “You can’t fix a novel until you write a novel” are my two favorite pieces of advice to give. 😉 Alright. This is your first novel with a male protagonist. Was there anything you did/thought about differently?
JL: I think father-son relationships come with their own set of nuances, especially historically. Expectations for both sexes were slightly more narrow than they are now (though we’ve still got plenty of room for improvement) and my character, Ben, struggles with his interests being seen as less than masculine. That said, I tend to focus on emotions when I figure out my characters and emotions are gender fluid—so writing a boy versus a girl isn’t overly different for me in that respect.BW: What do you have in the works now?JL: I’m working on a book that’s supposed to come out in Fall 2017. It’s about a young girl who finds mysterious messages in bottles underneath one of her town’s five covered bridges. It’s a contemporary story set in a place where the past and traditional arts (woodcarving, blacksmith work, weaving, etc.) are embraced and treasured.
LIGHTNING ROUND1. Plotter or Pantser: PANTSER
2. Salty or Sweet: SALTY
3. Romance or Adventure: ADVENTURE
4. Beach or Mountains: MOUNTAINS
5. Music or TV: MUSIC
6. Drink of choice: MINT WATER (fresh garden mint leaves blended with ice water)
7. Favorite band or song: PATTY GRIFFIN (singer/songwriter)
8. Biggest pet peeve: BEING INTERRUPTED WHEN I HAVE A THOUGHT TO WRITE DOWN FOR A MANUSCRIPT (usually a “brilliant” thought that ends up getting deleted later )
9. Favorite part of writing: WRITING ‘THE END’ ON A FIRST DRAFT~ IT’S SO SATISFYING, EVEN IF I KNOW THAT I’VE GOT TONS OF REVISING TO DO.
10. Books or movies: BOOKS
11. Clean the toilet or Clean the kitchen: TOILET (way faster)
12. Least favorite part of writing: DELETING SENTENCES I REALLY LIKE, BECAUSE THEY SERVE NO REAL PURPOSE.
13. Down time or dance party: DOWN TIME, DOWN TIME, DOWN TIME (did I mention I have children?)
14. Dream vacation: WARM PLACE, WATER TO LOOK AT, BOOKS TO READ, FRESH SEAFOOD AND FRESH VEGETABLES AND FRESH BREAD, COMFY BED w/ GREAT PILLOWSThank you so much for having me, Becky!