Marybeth Whalen took some time from her busy writing, cooking and taking care of her gorgeous family schedule to answer a few questions about The Wishing Tree, her latest book. On Friday, she’ll be back with answers about her favorite books, #literaryconfessions and more!
What was the inspiration for The Wishing Tree?
I ran across the concept of a wishing tree when I was doing some research on the history of guest books for my last novel (appropriately titled), The Guest Book. As I read about this idea, the story elements began to emerge and I knew this would be my next Sunset Beach novel. I love creating stories set at Sunset, with a unique element serving as a connection point between people, a la The Mailbox, The Guest Book and now, The Wishing Tree.
From the beginning to end, how long did The Wishing Tree take to write?
I wrote it from January to May. That’s pretty typical.
Do you have a writing space? A writing routine?
My writing space is SO unglamorous. I write sitting on my bed with my laptop balanced on my lap. Sometimes I get really wild and move to the couch in the den. I have six children so there really is nowhere in the house for a “writing space.” As for a routine, I try to confine my writing time to when the kids are in school. When they’re home, I want to focus on them. I love that I can make writing fit around my family.
Are any of the characters based on people in real life? Or just figments of your imagination?
Elements of real people are always woven into my characters based on my own observations and interactions. In this book, the character of April is based on my real-life friend April. The rest are all hodge-podged together.
Will you be going on a book signing tour? If so, what are you looking forward to the most about the tour?
Not this time, though I have a few events I will be doing with book clubs and groups. I love meeting readers and hearing from them. It is a full-circle moment, to see your book in someone’s hands.
Do you want The Wishing Tree to be made into a movie one day? If so, who are the actors that would comprise your dream cast?
I’d love that! I actually have a Pinterest board and there are pictures of the actors I had in mind as I wrote. I always have to have someone in mind since writing, for me, is like transcribing a movie playing in my head. You can take a peek here: The Wishing Tree Pinterest Page
Marybeth- how do you find time to sleep?! You have 6 kids, you are an author, you are a co-founder of She Reads and you still find time to bake desserts that are homemade- seriously, how do you do it all? Do you feel struggle between mom life vs author life?
My first priority is being a mom. I work hard to make sure nothing impinges on that. Jacqueline Kennedy said “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” I think about that often and try to live that way. Not that life always stays neat and in order—it gets messy! But the baked goods and the carpooling and the listening ear and the meeting needs—that’s what I try to do first and best. After that, it just somehow falls into place and what needs to happen, happens. I’ve had to learn to let a LOT go and to know I’m not in control. Not even close. God fills my gaps. My life is a series of little miracles. The trick, for me, is managing to remember that every day.
The Guest House and now The Wishing Tree are both set in beach areas- what is about this type of area that makes it the setting you choose for the books?
I was just joking about this with a friend! I don’t have the time to go research anywhere else so I have to depend on a place I know well in order to render the sense of place I like to create in a story. So that means I can write about where I live in the suburbs or I can write about where I vacation each year. Where I vacation is much better so that makes it the obvious choice. And also, I truly love it there. It’s where my heart lives. Every time I’m there, I feel like I can really breathe. What better thing to share with others than that sense of your soul expanding? I try to create that on the page.
Are you working on a new book? If so, can you reveal anything yet?
I am just finishing my fifth novel which will be out, Lord willing, this time next year! I don’t want to say the title yet because I’m not sure the publisher will keep it. I will say it’s another Sunset Beach NC story with a unique element that serves to connect people. This one has been great fun to write and I can’t wait to share it!
*Thank you Marybeth Whalen for the interview.
To find out more about Marybeth Whalen, please visit her website, Twitter or Pinterest page. When Marybeth is not writing, or cooking or at the grocery store- she can be found at She Reads– helping women find great books to read.