Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker and the author of eighteen novels, among them the national bestseller, Tending Roses, which is now in its seventeenth printing. Lisa’s inspirational romance, Blue Moon Bay, was named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Reads last year.
She is a seven-time ACFW Carol Award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Firefly Island is her latest release (Bethany House, February 2013).
Lisa and her family live in Central Texas.
Can you tell us about a recent “detour” in your life—or in one of your character’s lives—that taught you something?
In Firefly Island Mallory’s life takes a sudden right turn when her love-at-first-sight flame, Daniel Everson, is offered a research job on a remote ranch in far-away Texas. Some years ago, my life took a similar turn when, through a series of family connections, my husband was offered the chance to leave his corporate job and live on a ten thousand acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Like Daniel in the story, he really did walk out of the bedroom after a phone call (looking quite peaked and somewhat terrified) and say, “I… ummm… think I’ve just been offered a… ummm… job in… Texas.”
That was the beginning of wild adventure that would last several years. We knew we’d never have the chance to do something like that again, so we sold our home and dove headfirst into an adventure. We were, of course, just smart enough to be completely scared to death. We had a three and a half year old son at the time (the age of Mallory’s new step-son, Nick, in the story). Like Mallory, we worried about what the schools would be like that far out in the country, how we would find playmates for our son, and whether he would be lonely, living miles from other families.
It never occurred to me to wonder, as we packed our things and traveled into the unknown, whether I would be lonely. I figured that part out after we arrived at our new home. Life on the ranch was like stepping back in time. Days were unpredictable, nonstop, sometimes a struggle, but always an adventure. For a little boy, the backyard, the clear water creeks, the old orchard, and the garden were a wonderland. By extension, those places became wonderlands for me, too. In this fast-paced world, we don’t always get the chance to step away from all the noise and watch inchworms crawl, or butterflies fan their wings, or newborn foals take their first wobbly steps.
Reliving those moments through Mallory and Nick was a joy. And that, for me, is the beauty of Story. It can take us far away, or into the places closest to our heart.
At its heart, even with the larger issues of political scandal and local challenges, Firefly Island is a story about families, friendships, about community—how it develops and why we need it. Human beings are, at the most basic level, communal creatures. There’s so much evidence that people are happier and healthier, that we’re more generous and open with one another, that families are stronger and children achieve more when strong ties of friendship and community are there. These days, technology, busy schedules, and an on-the-go lifestyle compete with relationship-building activities, chipping away at the very thing we need the most. So often, our society tells people, especially young people like Mallory, that success is in not having to rely on anyone, but we were created to give and take, to need each other. I hope that Firefly Island provides a challenge to all of us, to see what we can contribute and what we can gain from the people we cross paths with in our neighborhoods and communities.
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chai tea with a little whipped cream on top is one of those little bribes I offer myself when a nap or Dr. Phil tempts me in the afternoons. I’ve been known to call my mom and plead for an emergency supply when the jar gets low. My mother makes her own chai tea mix, so it’s low fat and optional sugar or sweetener. If you’d like the recipe, you can find it here.
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