Q&A: Courtney Walsh
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK?
We were gifted a trip to stay in a friend's vacation cottage on Lake Michigan. I fell in love with the idea of going back to the same cottage and the same community every summer ... having friends you saw every year, kids growing up together. It was the start of a beautiful daydream! Then, I tied that in to my scrapbooking experience. I sort of melded those two things together to create a story about a group of women brought together by their love of scrapbooking in a little town on the lake.
Q: ALTHOUGH YOUR BOOK IS FICTION – WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SOME ELEMENTS IN THE BOOK THAT CAME FROM REAL LIFE?
I added in lots of my real life, but usually in small doses like little descriptors of inanimate objects. There's a school pick-up scene with one of the characters that pretty much describes my everyday. And the scrapbook ... how they made it, what the pages looked like ... in my mind I've already created those pages and looked them over enough times to fray the edges. I also included a few memories, like one of the girl's gets teased by a couple of other girls--I flipped some of the facts around, but the emotion of the scene comes straight from real life.
Q: WHEN MAKING UP STORIES, HOW MUCH DO YOU DRAW ON YOUR OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES AND PEOPLE YOU KNOW, VERSUS DRAWING ON RESEARCH ABOUT COMPLETE STRANGERS?
I have a very overactive imagination, so I may start with the foundation of someone I know, but the characters really morph into their own people. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to run into one of these characters at the grocery store. They're that real to me. One of my favorite things about writing is being able to breathe life into people and give them everything from a name to a shoe size. I have a degree in theatre, and my favorite part of acting was always digging into the character--discovering what made them tick, how they walked, what they ate for breakfast. I do that now as a writer, allow the characters to take on their own personalities.
Q: WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Right now I'm working on the third book in the Sweethaven series. The first draft is nearly done! I just finished my final edits on the second book last week, so it's been busy. And, I've got a few other stories bouncing around that I can't wait to write! My husband and I are also just finishing a musical version of Hercules for Christian Youth Theatre, Chicago. Working with him makes the writing even more fun! (Plus, he adds a soundtrack which is always a bonus!)
Q: FACT VS. FICTION – WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME EXAMPLES IN YOUR NOVEL WHERE YOU TOOK SOME LIBERTIES WITH THE FACTS?
The clearest example I can think of is the town itself. I did a lot of research about Michigan beach towns and sort of pulled in elements from various places. Sweethaven doesn't really exist, but lots of parts of it sure do! (Some days I just want to escape there, spend the nights scrapbooking with my girlfriends and the days on the beach with my family ... heavenly!)