Today, Wendy Francis- author of Three Good Things– was gracious enough to find time to answer some interview questions about Three Good Things, why she’s writing now instead of being an editor, and why a kringle should be something we all can experience. Check back on Wednesday, when she’s back for an Author Spotlight- complete with #literarycrush and #literaryconfessions.
Interview with Wendy Francis
Wendy, what was the inspiration for writing Three Good Things?
After being a book editor for several years, I very much wanted to try my hand at writing. When I was home alone with my one-year-old son, I figured it was as good a time as any to give it a go. At the back of my mind was a story about two sisters whose mother died when they were young. Ellen was the first character I imagined for Three Good Things. I knew she was at a turning point in her life, recently divorced, in her forties, and about to open a bakery. I was also missing the Midwest, where I grew up, and wanted to recapture its spirit – and its signature pasty, the kringle – in my novel.
How long did Three Good Things take to write?
I wrote the first draft probably in a year, but then I did a fair amount of revising over the next year. From start to publication, it was about three years.
Are any of the characters in Three Good Things based on people you know in real life? Or are they created from your imagination?
I don’t have a sister, but I’m very close to my mom. In many ways, she was the inspiration for the bond between Ellen and Lanie. And though Ellen is much more outspoken than I am, I share her affinity for proper grammar, the Midwest, and, of course, kringle. Lanie ended up being the easier character to write, if only because I’d just had a baby myself, so all those great baby firsts (and sleepless nights!) were still vivid in my mind.
Your character, Ellen, opens a shop called the Singular Kringle. Why not a cupcake or cookie store? What, in your opinion, made a Kringle the food to feature at Ellen’s store?
This one is easy to answer! I grew up in Wisconsin, where kringle is a staple for breakfast, tea, you name it. It’s a delicate Danish pastry that has nearly thirty layers of butter and a filling – apple, almond, or blueberry, to name a few. I probably don’t need to say anything more than “thirty layers of butter,” but authentic kringle is mouth-watering. Racine, Wisconsin, is the American home of kringle. In fact, I recently learned that State Representative Cory Mason has proposed that it be named the official “state pastry.” That’s how seriously we Midwesterners take our kringle! Since the book is set in Wisconsin and my own personal dream is to open a kringle shop one day, it seemed natural that it would be Ellen’s dream as well.
If Three Good Things was made into a movie, do you have a dream cast?
Wouldn’t that be fun?! Let’s see. . . I love Rachel McAdams (she played Allie in The Notebook) for Lanie. Ellen would have to be played by someone with humor and sass: maybe Sandra Bullock? As for the fellows, Max has to be sexy and sultry: Eric Dane from Grey’s Anatomy? For Henry, how about Greg Kinnear (he seems as if he has a gardener’s soul)? And Lanie’s husband, Rob, would be well-played by any of those cute, earnest-looking young actors – Jake Gyllenhaal and John Krasinski are a couple who come to mind!
Wendy, you were a former senior editor in publishing. Now you are an author. How are the lives different? How are they similar?
Good question. I wrote a little piece about this called “A Letter to the Author You’re About to Become” on the Huffington Post (http://huff.to/10ZEATC). In a nutshell, it’s a lot harder being an author than an editor! You’re much more isolated, and there are long stretches of time when you wonder if what you’re writing is any good. Self-doubt seems to be an essential part of the writer’s life. On the other hand, so is that wonderful feeling that you’ve created a whole new world on the page.
“At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened” is a phrase that is said in Three Good Things –it’s the advice that Lanie and Ellen’s mother gave them. Is this advice that you pass on to your family and friends?
Though I don’t think anyone in my family would accuse me of being a Pollyanna, I am a big believer in taking time to stop and appreciate the little things in life. Maybe it’s the Midwestern girl in me talking, but I love a good, drenching rainfall, a rosebush in full bloom, an amazing view, a good laugh. I’ve since come to learn that a lot of people try to recall three good things at the end of every day. I think it helps a person keep perspective, even when the world appears to be breaking your heart.
What are you working on next, Wendy? Can you give us any hints?
I’m writing my second novel, which features three women who are all facing various challenges in their lives. I wanted to write a story that captures the kaleidoscope of experiences that many friends seem to be confronting right now – balancing work and marriage with caring for their children, their own aging parents, and their own health. But it’s also a summer novel, set on the East Coast, so you can count on some romance and a few salty characters as well.
*Special thanks to Wendy Francis for agreeing to be interviewed!
Wendy Francis, author of Three Good Things, a former senior editor and currently hard at work for her 2nd book. Look for Three Good Things in stores or online. Like Wendy’s writing? You can find funny and poignant posts of hers at Huffington Post. Wendy also has a website and Twitter page.
To read Traveling With T’s review of Three Good Things, read HERE.
*GIVEAWAY: A copy of Three Good Things is up for grabs! Comment on this post and tell me what’s the best mother-ly advice you have ever received! Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!) and will run from July 15th- July 22 at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified on July 23rd. Please include your email address (you may use the AT and DOT). While no extra entries will be awarded for following Traveling With T or liking my Facebook page- if you’ve been enjoying the content lately- give me a like or a follow!