BIW Member Interview
Lea Wait writes Scribner’s award winning Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, in which antique print dealer Maggie Summer solves crimes by finding clues in her nineteenth century prints. She is also the author of acclaimed historical novels for children aged 7 and up, set in 19th century Wiscasset. Lea grew up in New Jersey and Maine and is an antique print dealer and mother to four Asian children she adopted.
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Lea Wait: Since I was in second grade and the revelation dawned that actual, real, people wrote books! I loved libraries, and books — and I wanted to know everything in the world. Somehow I thought the people who wrote the books were the ones who DID know everything. As I got older I refined that first impression… but I still wanted to be a writer!
Moe: Describe three lessons you’ve learned about writing.
Lea Wait: 1) What most people call “writing” is really “research” + “planning” + “writing” + “rewriting” + “marketing”. All of those things add up to “publishing.”
2) Therefore, most of “writing” is not actually “writing”.
3) If I’d known all that before I started… I’d still be a writer!
Moe: What are you working on now?
Lea Wait: I’ve just finishing rewriting an historical adult mystery set in 1865 New York State for my agent who deals with adult books, and am revisiting an historical novel I wrote half of 5 years ago set in 1847-48 Edinburgh. It’s for young people, and my children’s editor at that time decided she wasn’t interested in it. I now have a new agent for my children’s books, and he’s excited about the concept and wants to shop it around, so I’m resurrecting it and finishing it. I’m also doing research for a children’s historical set during the American Revolution.
Moe: Do you have a favorite writing related book?
Lea Wait: That’s hard — there are so many! I’d say my current favorite is Don’t Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden. It’s not just about mysteries — it has lots of practical hints on editing and plotting for anyone writing fiction.
Moe: What is your favorite writing website?
Lea Wait: Easy — BIW, of course!
Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?
Lea Wait: Prepare for BIW the way a runner would prepare for a marathon. Do your homework (research, planning, outlining) first; don’t make any nonessential appointments for that week; stock up on frozen foods and make soups and casseroles ahead. Try to deflect excuses before they appear! The hardest part of BIW (or any writing week) is the “butt in chair” part. And the best part is knowing you have pals all over the world struggling just as you are!