It’s no secret that I love Hatteras Island, so when Alice Wisler announced she was publishing Hatteras Girl, I jumped at the chance to read it! Grab yourself a nice glass of sweet tea and settle in to see what Alice has to say about the greatest place on earth, NASCAR, and how life can eerily imitate art.
There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives. There’s one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag. When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis’s past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?
1. When I saw you needed influencers for Hatteras Girl, I was so excited! Hatteras Island is one of my favorite places on earth. What made you decide to set a novel there? What drew you there in the first place, and what’s your relationship with the area?
I love the North Carolina coast, but particularly the feel of being on the Outer Banks. I’ve had a few vacations there and find it a beautiful place in every season. As my main character, Jackie says, “The ocean and sky never seem to stop, giving you a feeling that there is always more to see, and more to experience.”
Even a novice can succeed with flying a kite on the coast of Buxton or Waves. I also think that when we focus on dreams, like Jackie’s to run a bed and breakfast, a coastal town is key. Dreams and the coast—that has a nice ring to it. Besides the setting, the quirky Southern characters inside my head inspired me.
2. How did the idea for Hatteras Girl come to you? Some writers see a photo or visit a place and a story is sparked. Others have a character “show up” and introduce themselves. How was Hatteras Girl born?
I think the desire of wanting to own a bed and breakfast brought me to think about the story.
3. You mentioned that things from your novels have happened to you in real life AFTER the novels were written. Would you tell us about some of those? And are any events in Hatteras Girl based on real life moments from your life?
Rain Song has to do with meeting someone from the past via the Internet and shorlty after I wrote it, I met my husband Carl via the Internet. Hatteras Girl has to do with a B&B that is falling apart, and guess what? Our house has some damage we just discovered while I was writing the story.
On another note, grief and loss are always included in my novels. That is because grief and loss are with me every day. My four-year-old son, Daniel, died from cancer treatments in 1997, and ever since then, I write with a hole in my heart. So when I incorporate these feelings of sorrow into my characters, I put some of the real moments of my life in there as well.
4. Plotter or pantser? Character first or plot first?
I think a portion of the plot comes first, then the characters, and then more of the plot.
5. Tell us what your writing process is like and what a “typical” (as if there is such a thing!) writing day looks like for you.
After waking at 5 AM, I have a cup of hazelnut coffee and then take a long walk on the beach while my maid dusts off my computer and fluffs the pillows in my chair. Hahaaha! Actually, I write for about five hours every day in the mornings starting around 9—- unless I am doing the final edits for a novel. Then I work about ten hours each day for two weeks until I have to abandon my manuscript and send it to my editor. And although I enjoy a good cup of coffee, I make myself Earl Grey tea. My husband brings me a latte many mornings—providing we have milk in the fridge.
6. Now’s your chance… If you could tell your readers any one thing about you or about the writing life, what would it be?
There is nothing as nice for me as getting a message or letter from a reader telling me he or she enjoyed my novels. Messages like those add to my writing life and make me write better.
And a bonus question, because I’d really love to hear the answer… You’re from NASCAR country. Why have your protagonist admit to hating the sport? (For the record, I actually thought that little tidbit was funny.)
Jackie is half-Korean, and her Korean mom tells her that although they like Bruce Lee movies, NASCAR –“that crazy car stuff”—is not their thing (page 116 in Hatteras Girl). I suppose, that after being raised in Osaka, Japan, I feel the same sentiments. I actually had a scene where Jackie’s Outer Banks uncle watches NASCAR on TV, but my Minnesota editor deleted that scene (I am sure it had nothing to do with any feelings for NASCAR). 🙂
Thanks for hanging out with us Alice! Folks, you can find Hatteras Girl on shelves now or at online booksellers. Enjoy!