Meet Virginia Wise!
Learn all about what she does for fun, her writing process and where she stands on a very important book debate.
So read on for some behind the scenes info exclusive to Military Spouse!
Describe your novel in five words.
Love can find you anywhere.
Do you ever base your characters off of the people in your life?
All of my characters are fictional, but I am often inspired by people in my life and include aspects of those people in my writing. In particular, I like to incorporate humorous traits of people I know. When it comes to that, I don’t spare myself. For example, Greta’s clumsiness and tendency to embarrass herself by knocking things over, falling down, or burning dinner are all things that I do on a regular basis!
If you could spend one day with any character from your book, who would it be?
I would love to spend a day with Greta Scholtz. She is ideal best friend material—relatable, friendly, and down to earth. She has strong convictions and is highly opinionated, so we would have interesting, lively conversations. Equally important, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. I enjoy spending time with people who aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves or laugh at their mistakes. I missed Greta when I finished writing the book and look forward to checking in on her later in the series.
How long does it take you to write your books?
I usually have a hard time getting into the flow of a new project. The pressure to live up to expectations when starting a new manuscript can be tough. But once I get started I remember how much I love writing and it goes fast. I can write an 80,000-word manuscript in two to three months. I love what I do and there’s nothing as satisfying as finishing a manuscript within a tight deadline!
What advice would you give to your younger self about writing?
Follow your dreams—but be flexible! Sometimes life brings us surprises that can work to our advantage, if we let it. I never saw myself as a genre romance writer, but when the opportunity arose I realized that I had a chance to do what I loved, even if I wouldn’t be writing the type of fiction that I had envisioned. Now, I realize that inspirational romance is the perfect genre for me, since I am a hopeless romantic who devours romance novels, romantic comedies, and any story that warms the heart. If I had been set in my ways, I might have missed an amazing opportunity that turned out to be a perfect fit.
Do you have a process for working through writer’s block?
My secret weapon is my ‘thinking cap.’ It’s a white linen Colonial cap like the one Greta wears. My kids make fun of me, but it works!
A more serious answer is that I like to get into the world that I am creating. To me, the Amish New World series is all about world-building. I want my readers to have a place to escape that feels real. That’s why I love doing a series; readers can return to familiar characters and places over and over, like going home again.
To get past writer’s block I do whatever I can to feel a part of that world. That might include visits to living history museums, watching period films and documentaries, trying pre-Revolutionary recipes, listening to Colonial music, making traditional handicrafts, or reading historical fiction. Once I submerge myself in that world, the ideas begin to flow and I can create the details readers need to feel a part of the fantasy. From the scent of wood smoke to the taste of salt pork or the sound of pine needles rustling in a vast, primeval forest, I want readers to feel that they have entered an unknown wilderness along with the characters.
Do you do any hands-on research for your books? Have you had a favorite experience?
I love doing hands-on research for my books—and I do a lot of it! I have been to countless museums armed with my camera and notepad. And no matter how much research I do, there is always something new to learn. My kids grew up going to museums and historical sites with me; as an added bonus, these trips instilled a love of history in them.
One of my favorite experiences was when we arrived at a Revolutionary battlefield before dawn to celebrate Patriot’s Day (a much loved Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the first battle of the Revolutionary War) and discovered that my three-year-old son had no shoes! We had been in such a hurry to catch the reenactment of the “shot heard round the world” that we carried him to the car while he was still asleep and, in the hustle and bustle, no one remembered to pack his shoes. The only shoes we could find to buy in time to see the battle and watch the parade were a little pair of fireman rain boots. My son spent the day marching around Lexington and Concord playing the fife and drum while wearing a tricorn hat, Colonial coat—and bright red firemen boots. He loved those boots so much that he refused to take them off for the next six months. I love how a mistake turned into a happy family memory. It reminds me that life is about making the most of every moment and remembering to laugh along the way.
Where do you fall on the bookmark vs dog-ear debate?
Bookmarks! I have a collection of bookmarks that bring back happy memories—either my children made them or I bought them as souvenirs on family vacations. Every time I open a book and see one of these bookmarks I am reminded of my blessings.