Marybeth Whalen: Author Spotlight

Marybeth Whalen stopped by today to tell Traveling With T about #literaryconfessions, #literarycrush, and much more. Enjoy getting to know a bit more about Marybeth Whalen, author of The Wishing Tree.


Author Spotlight


Marybeth, when you are not writing- what are some of your favorite things to do?

Read. Watch movies or crime shows. Go on dates with my husband. Hang out with friends.

Could you tell us some of your favorite authors?
Elizabeth Berg, Jodi Picoult, Sarah Addison Allen, Joshilyn Jackson, Lee Smith


What book (or books!) will you always make room for on your shelf?

Just one shelf? 🙂

I have a collection of all of Lee Smith’s work, dating back to the first book of hers I ever got—when my father had some people move out of his rental house and leave boxes of books behind. (Can you imagine?) Before he donated them, he let me go through them because he knew how much I loved books. I was 14 years old and plucked a book called Black Mountain Breakdown out of the box. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of something. I fell in love with southern writing from that moment on, and realized that not all writers have to live in and write about New York City. It gave me hope.

Sometimes I go to my shelves just to run my hands across the book spines, visiting with them like the old friends they are.

Do you have any #literaryconfessions?

So many great works of literature I’ve never read. <Hangs head in shame.> Seriously. It’s sad.

Do you have a #literarycrush?

Ah, Finny from A Separate Peace. I just loved his wildness and his tragic death broke my heart. (Spoiler alert!)

What are some of the books that will be in your beach bag for 2013?

Take a look at our June books at She Reads—that’s my reading list for this summer!

The Books of Summer

There is truly a glut of wonderful titles out this summer. None of us have any excuse to not be reading every minute!

What was your favorite childhood book?

Just one? 🙂

Harriet The Spy taught me what it meant to be an observer and cataloguer. Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards taught me that there were other little girls who existed on the outside of things and longed for a space of their own. From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankwiler taught me that other kids longed to run away and live on their own terms.  Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl taught me that parents are just doing the best they can, and sometimes that’s enough. And The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe made me fall in love with the mighty and amazing Aslan.

Was there a person or a book series that helped start your love of reading?

My mom tells me that when I was old enough to walk, I would toddle across the room and bring her a book to read. When she was done with that one, I would go get another. This would go on as long as she would keep reading. I credit her for continuing to read the books I brought her for hours on end. I really did come with a powerful, voracious hunger for words and she had the wisdom to feed it early on.
If you were not an author, what would you want to be?

A Food Network star a la Pioneer Woman. Me, my husband and kids, my wild and crazy house, and easy dinners served up with southern flair.

If you could be a character in a book, who would you be? Why?

Pippi Longstocking. I love her spunk, her daring, and her refusal to live on anyone else’s terms


ICYMI: Interview with Marybeth Whalen author of The Wishing Tree and Traveling With T’s review of The Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen.

Interview with Marybeth Whalen author of The Wishing Tree

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.

mary beth whalenTo 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.

The Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen

the wishing treeIvy Marshall’s life is falling to pieces the same day she learns her younger sister’s life is coming together with a marriage proposal from her boyfriend. Ivy, while happy for her sister, cannot help wonder “what if” about her own life. What if she’d married the man her family wanted her to marry instead of Elliot? “What if” is a dangerous question, at times……

Ivy leaves Elliot to head back to Sunset Beach. Partly to help with her sister’s wedding, partly to get away from Elliot, and partly to think about life. Back in Sunset Beach, she does not want her family to know about Elliot- since they did not want her to marry him- they wanted her to marry Michael. Ivy figures she’ll see Michael at the wedding since his cousin is marrying her sister- but is surprised (and secretly pleased) to see that Michael is around for the summer.

Elliot is not taking Ivy leaving lightly- he takes to Twitter, one of her favorite social media sites, and begins tweeting to get Ivy’s attention. As the weeks go by, Ivy begins to see that Elliot is trying- he’s paying more attention- but what broke between them; she is unsure if can ever be fixed.

Ivy also has some hard truths of her own to deal with- her role in what lead to her family being hurt about her broken engagement, Michael, and the others she hurt in her past.

The Wishing Tree deals with hard issues with sensitivity and lightness: cheating, breaking hearts, growing up, disappointing family and finding yourself. Well-written, enjoyable, a story-line that is interesting and very readable.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

Marybeth Whalen has done it again. Written a book that is light, funny; yet poignant and thoughtful. Themes of love, forgiveness, and moving on are discussed and weaved in and out of the story of Ivy and her life. Thought-provoking. Read- you will not be sorry.


*The author provided me with a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. All above opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday Mashup

LOTS to announce!

Rebecca @ Love at First Book is featured in Bloggers who WIN, a feature created by BookStore-BookBlogger Connection. She talks all about the magic of a book store in this feature!

Want to get to chat with Beatriz Williams- author of A HUNDRED SUMMERS? Yes, yes, you do! So join in Thursday night with Literary New England from 8-9pmEST and chat! You might even get lucky and win a book 🙂 Use #LNEchat to join in!

She Reads revealed their The Books of Summer list last week. 6 books that you need to read this summer! As part of their The Books of Summer, they will also be having author interviews and others fun news- here is a catch-up of what has been posted:

Grab It While You Can (Marybeth Whalen’s new book, The Wishing Tree, $3.99 in e-book!)

The Wishing Tree Soundtrack

Tell Me Something True: A Visit with Beatriz Williams

Tell Me Something True: A Visit with Amy Sue Nathan

Today I interviewed Erika Marks, author of The Guest House, on my blog. Here’s the interview- and Thursday- check back to see  Erika’s #literaryconfessions and #literarycrush  (PLUS a GIVEAWAY!)

ICYMI: My review of A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams!

Deep South Mag has posted their Twitter Chat Schedule, Summer Reading List 2013, and Summer Book Signing Calendar 2013 ( when you look at the summer book signing- you *may* see a familiar face 😉

Happy Reading 🙂




Thursday Mashup

Mashup- Giveaways, 36 hours spent in Jackson, MS, 30 Hot Books for Summer and more…


She Reads is giving away Marybeth Whalen’s newest book, The Wishing Tree!

Love At First Book is giving away A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon!

The Book Wheel is giving away A Complicated Marriage by Janice Van Horne!

Book-Alicious Mama is giving away Letters from a Whoremonger’s Wife by Danita Clark Able.


Jackson, MS was featured in the NY Times Travel section- 36 Hours in Jackson, MS!

For more information on planning a visit to Jackson (or other place in Mississippi)- check the website Visit Mississippi

#bookrecommendations and #hotbooks

USA Today reveals it’s list of 30 Hot Books for Summer. Bookmagnet has revealed her list of books for June in it’s It’s a June Books Boon– and 1 of the books she lists, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls by Anton Disclafani, also made the USA Today list! Two of the books I listed for Beach Bag Reads (The Tao of Martha: My Year of Living or Why I’m Never Getting All the Glitter Off The Dog by Jen Lancaster and Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger ) also made USA Today 30 Hot Books for Summer.