Name: Rowena Tisdale
Where are you from:
Originally, I am from Michigan, and after living 20 years in other states, I’ve settled here once again. It’s a beautiful place, really, and offers so much. There are cities, and vast expanses of nature, culture, and seasons, and of course, the Great Lakes. It is a great place to be a writer.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Currently hard at work on my second book. I took a wrong turn when I completed Ingénue, and thought I needed to write the sequel, as many readers were disappointed with the end of the story. It turns out I needed to write the book I am working on now. It was a good idea to put the Ingénue sequel on the back burner, as the story seems to be changing while I pursue this other project.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written, as long as I can remember. It’s the thing I am good at, so it just seems a natural path to follow.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time I was published and got paid.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Writing a novel has always been a dream. I’ve started many times throughout my life, but always got distracted, discouraged, or insecure. So I would stop in the middle or at the beginning, or somewhere in the process. With Ingénue, I simply refused to give up. I was so excited about the story, and the characters, I don’t know that I could have stopped if I wanted to!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Probably, but I find that style evolves continually, so I won’t try to define it. I tend to use a lot of dialog in my fiction. I have to be aware of that. Maybe I’ll try to write a play some day, because I really love writing the words my characters speak.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My current book has a working title of Slipping Away, but I will not get too attached to it. I gave Ingénue a working title, and ended up very attached to it. It was initially released as “Awake in A Sweet Unrest,” which is a reference to a poem by John Keats. By the time I was finished writing the novel, I was so used to the name, I went with it. It was only recently that I realized, THAT IS NOT THE NAME OF THIS NOVEL! Oops! So I renamed and rebranded with the true title – Ingénue.
Lesson learned! I will not make that mistake again.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t know. I don’t approach writing with a message in mind. I just like to tell a good story. Ultimately, I suppose the message of Ingénue, and of my current novel could be the importance of staying true to yourself.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Ah, now that would be telling!
There is always something personal in my writing, I think that is true for most writers. But I write fiction, so, as much as I admire my heroines, and love my heroes, they are not based on real life.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Books with strong heroines – Jane Eyre, Scarlett O’Hara, Morgaine – along those lines – and a handful of books by Charles Dickens.
I’ve not had a mentor, but view great authors as role models.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can’t say I have a favorite new author. I am more likely to enjoy a book by a specific author. My reading time is limited these days, so I am very discerning about what I read. Excellent writing, in any genre, strikes me.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Writing is such a solitary endeavor. Even now, few people are aware that I am an author. Family, of course, is very supportive (though I had to create a “clean” version of Ingénue for my mother and sons to read). I do have a friend that is very encouraging and supportive, though he may view me a bit differently after reading my first book…
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I may not be living off royalties from my novels (yet), but I have supported myself and my family as a writer for many years.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Ingénue? Maybe a small detail that does not stand up to scientific scrutiny, but only one person has ever noticed or commented on it, so maybe not. I’ll decide by the next edition.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Reading great books was probably the original source of interest, but as I mentioned earlier, writing has always been the thing I’m good at. The teacher always picked my story / paper / poem to read to the class, I always got the best grades for anything that involved writing.
And I love words. Weaving them together into something meaningful and/or beautiful gives me great pleasure.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
It is a love story, or at least a story about love … I am not sure, at this point, if it will fall into the Romance genre. It is the story of an older woman with a much younger husband, and while their marriage seems idyllic, there are circumstances that are slowly eroding her feelings of self-worth. The book delves into what she does to try to save herself, and keep her marriage. It is, on the final page, I hope, a tale of redemption, but I am not sure of the outcome. Claire and Aaron have led me a merry dance, and I don’t know if it ends in the parking lot in the rain where they are currently standing, his hand outstretched to her, pleading with her to come home. My characters have not finished with me yet.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finishing! I find it so easy to get started on a project, but staying with it is often difficult for me. I am easily distracted by new, shiny things, so I really have to discipline myself about staying on track.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
At this point, I generally write about the places I have been and know well enough to write about. There is, at some point in the future for me, a story that takes place in France, but I will not be able to write it without spending some time there first. (Or I just really want a trip to Paris!)
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do my own graphics.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Letting go of the characters. Once a book is published, the story no longer belongs to the author, but to the readers. Not being able to make readers feel the story the same way I do – that’s hard.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Perseverance pays off.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I honestly don’t know. Really hot guys for the male leads, though, please.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love and appreciate you all!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Wit and Wisdom of Dorothy Parker. I love her perceptiveness, and her biting sarcasm.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I remember reading was Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman. I remember it made me so very sad.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
So many! But if I had to choose only one, I think it would be Athénaïs de Montespan. She was such a fascinating woman!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“All’s well that ends,” because it is fitting.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I have a few. Cooking, which is definitely my second passion. I also sew, and garden.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Not a lot. I like romantic comedies, and I watch Project Runway. My youngest son and I occasionally binge watch a series from Netflix – the most recent was Firefly – which we both loved!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite food: Something I cooked. Favorite color: Probably black. Favorite music: I like so much, but classic rock is what I still listen to most.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I once dreamed of being a Shakespearean actress.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?