Award-winning author Lisa Wingate’s charming and acclaimed writing style has enabled her to not only become a bestselling author but to also successfully walk the line between the mainstream and inspirational publishing worlds. Actively writing and publishing in both markets, she finds her stories share a common heart: they offer hope amidst the uncertainty of real life. The slice of reality that Wingate gives readers in Larkspur Cove draws on her experiences living among close-knit Texas communities and pulls from the headlines to explore child abduction. In all, she weaves together a touching story that challenges readers to grow closer to those around them and to trust in God’s greater plan.
LARKSPUR COVE BEGINS WITH A CASE INVOLVING A CHILD AT RISK. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS THEME? DID THIS IDEA COME FROM A REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCE?
In today’s society, so many children don’t grow up in classic, made-for-TV families. Kids like Birdie in the story have no choice but to rely on the kindness and concern of strangers. We hear of cases every day in which children are rescued from dire situations.
A few years ago, I was chatting with an adoptive mother at a baseball game and learned that her daughter could have been one of those tragic statistics. As an infant, the little girl had been taken on the run by a relative with a prison record. They moved from place to place, always staying ahead of social services, and weren’t found until a year and a half later, when suspicious neighbors submitted a police report. The little girl was rescued and placed with a wonderful, loving family. All I could think, watching that little girl play beside the baseball field, was, Thank God for nosy neighbors! I wondered what would have happened if neighbors had not intervened. Would that little girl’s fate have been like that of kidnapping victim, Jaycee Dugard, who was held for years by her captor? Those questions became the basis of Larkspur Cove, in which the town recluse is suddenly spotted with a young girl in tow, creating a storm of uncertainty among the community and raising questions that must be answered.
LARKSPUR COVE IS SET IN A COMMUNITY ON A LAKE. IS MOSES LAKE, TEXAS, BASED ON A REAL PLACE?
During a family move some years ago, we lived temporarily in a relative’s lake house in a neighborhood that contained an eclectic mixture of people from all walks of life. In the fifties, King’s Landing had been the place to be—a shady, luxurious street with a private resort near the shore. Now, the resort lay abandoned, and life was quieter. Over time, life near the lake changes people and bonds them together. They take on the rhythm of the water and the seasons. They adapt to a slower, more relaxed pace. In a time when so many of us live lives that are stressful, overscheduled, and disconnected, life on the water seems tempting, comforting, alluring. It occurred to me that such a place would be the perfect location for people from very different backgrounds to come together.
WHAT DO YOU MOST ADMIRE ABOUT ANDREA HENDERSON AND MART MCCLENDON, THE MAIN CHARACTERS IN LARKSPUR COVE?
I admire Andrea’s determination, even as her own life seems to be falling apart, to help the children she serves in her new counseling job. Without an involved community and dedicated people who truly love children, kids like Birdie in the story would have little chance at normal lives. Mart’s best qualities are perhaps the very characteristics that makes him good at his job as a state game warden. Mart is patient, easy-going, and he has a kind heart, in spite of the fact that he’s a man’s man and can’t always figure out how to express that tender side. He is also a dedicated professional, willing to do a dangerous job. Game wardens have fascinating jobs that lead them to all parts of the county and bring them into contact with all sorts of people. They work frequently with other branches of law enforcement during kidnapping and missing persons cases, disaster relief, drug investigations, and so forth, and have a jurisdiction that allows them into places other branches of law enforcement cannot enter without a warrant.
YOU ARE IN A UNIQUE POSITION, PUBLISHING WOMEN'S FICTION IN BOTH THE CHRISTIAN MARKET AND THE GENERAL MARKET -- WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AND JOYS OF WRITING FOR BOTH MARKETS?
Reaching readers who, perhaps, haven’t given Christian fiction a try is challenging but also rewarding. I want people to know that a great story can live in a Godly universe and acknowledge our need for a loving connection with our creator. In 2001, when my first book, Tending Roses, was released by Penguin Putnam, faith-based stories in ABA fiction were rare. That novel has since been reprinted sixteen times and sells all over the world. Now, the markets have grown, and when I was given the opportunity write for Bethany House as well as Penguin Putnam, I jumped at the chance.
WHEN READERS PICK UP A LISA WINGATE BOOK, WHAT CAN THEY EXPECT?
A hopeful, faith-based story with a happy ending and real world content. The Moses Lake books are a blend of romance and women’s fiction, often with a bit of history and mystery thrown in. I love a story that deals with the issues we all face in life and shows where God is in those times of struggle. I also love stories that deal with community, and how God does some of his best work through the people in our lives. In an age when our communication with friends and neighbors tends to be rushed and superficial, it’s good to spend a little time in a place (even through the pages of a book) where neighbors still take time to sit together over coffee, solve the world’s problems, and talk about the day. My grandest desire is that, when readers pick up one of my books, they find a little mini-vacation away from the demands of ordinary life, and come away feeling not only entertained, but refreshed, bolstered in faith, and filled with hope.