Author Spotlight: Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

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Congratulations to the winner of the Author Spotlight giveaway of The Magnolia Duchess, ANNIE JC. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Hillary Manton Lodge, author of Together at the Table, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.

hillary manton lodgeIntroduce us to you as an author: When did you get bit with the writing bug? How would you describe your writing style?

I started writing at a young age, attending my first writers’ conference at the age of 13. I studied journalism in college, and finished my first novel a couple years later. By the time I had a book ready to do the rounds, I’d already met my agent and first acquisitions editor.

My writing style – it’s sharp and snappy, with quirk and lots of heart. I’m very invested in my characters, and I like to keep the plot moving at a quick clip.

Tell us about your new release:

Together at the Table is the third in the Two Blue Doors series, and it’s possibly the most romantic book I’ve ever written. But the kind of romance it is – and I can’t describe it without spoilers – but it’s my favorite kind to read. I started referring to it as “the book of squee” early on; I had a lot to do, a lot of threads to tie up. I think readers will be very, very pleased. Pleased and hungry, because it’s got some extra delicious recipes!

How can readers connect with you online?

All the usual places – my website, www.hillarymantonlodge.com, plus Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m working on pulling together a newsletter, so readers can be on the lookout for that!

Anything new for you on the book horizon?

Oooh yes! And it’s very exciting. In Summer of 2017, I’ve got a standalone novel releasing – Jane of Austin! It’s Sense and Sensibility set in modern-day Austin, Texas, and it’s just a heap of fun.

After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?

That is a good question and I had to dig through my social media to remember the timeline! The first book that I completed (as opposed to the heap of unfinished books tucked away all over the place) I started in September of 2005, finished in October of 2007, three months after getting married. I signed my first publishing contract in September of 2008 for a different book altogether, Plain Jayne, which I turned in Spring of 2009 and released in January of 2010. So if you look at it that way, a little over four years. But if you count the first book I ever pitched to an editor – which I started at 13 – a lot longer!

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?

Lodg_9780307731791_cvr_a01_r1.inddFirst, I’m a caffeine lightweight so my writing drink of choice is a cup of strong, spicy, non-caffeinated chai tea. But what really helps me is to handwrite notes. When I start a new project, I buy a pretty journal, and I’ll handwrite my thoughts about the characters and the plot – it’s all very stream-of-consciousness. But it helps to get my brain going, and I’ve untangled any number of plot conundrums that way. I have a theory that the brain passageways used by handwriting is a part of it – it’s different from typing, so it uses a part of my brain that isn’t so tired and well-worn.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first-draft reader?

For me, it was writers’ conferences. As I mentioned, I attended my first Oregon Christian Writers’ conference at 13. By 14, I was working the book table, getting to meet authors and editors. I read everything I could get my hands on, so I knew most of the books. I started pitching once I had projects that I was more serious about, and the classes augmented what I was learning in school – both high school and college. By the time I had a completed novel, I had contacts at publishing houses and with Sandra Bishop, who’d become my agent.

If you’re serious about writing as a career, I really recommend finding a good conference with classes that appeal to you.

Do you prefer reading physical books or e-readers?

I’m a big, big fan of e-readers, though I feel unpopular for saying so. I will buy physical copies of books I love, but I love the handiness of having a reading app on my smartphone and having a book everywhere I go. And when it comes to both travel and night-reading, e-readers just can’t be beat.

Why do you write?

Because my brain would get itchy with unwritten stories if I didn’t.

What are you best known for … writing or otherwise?

Dialogue, I think – that’s the thing that comes up the most. I have a good ear, and my books are pretty dialogue-heavy. I love what characters reveal about themselves through what they say – and don’t.

What books have you reread the most?

I read Siri Mitchell’s Chateau of Echoes about once a year. Anna Quindlen’s Still Life in Breadcrumbs is another one I reach for a lot. But my favorite book, hands down, is Where’d You Go, Bernadette. That’s the one that I accost strangers about (if they’re holding a copy at a bookstore) and tell them to read. It’s a masterclass of plot and characterization.

Ever had a bad review? How did you handle it?

Oh, scads. But usually it’s a case of “this book isn’t for you.” And I’m okay with that. I listen to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour a lot (a LOT), and one thing they say a bunch is that things that are good aren’t for everybody. It’s okay. My writing style isn’t for everyone – and that’s fine, there are lots of authors out there, so everyone can find the authorial voice that speaks to their heart.

What advice would you give to new writers?

I think that a lot about being a writer comes down to stubbornness. You have to hang in there through the writing, the polishing, and the submitting. It takes a tenaciousness of spirit.

Are you an introvert? Extrovert? In-between?

Ambivert – it’s a thing. I like people and I like my quiet time at home.


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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. Britney Adams says:

    Thank you for sharing this lovely interview and giveaway! It’s a pleasure to learn more about Hillary!

  2. So glad to now know the term “ambivert” since I’ve felt like both an extrovert and introvert 🙂 Thanks for sharing this thoughtful interview!

  3. Something I see now-a-days more and more is the quick stop at the nearest fast food restaurant on the way to a child’s game, practice, performance or other event and less time together talking and relaxing at the dinner table. A much needed book!

  4. Jennifer Ingman says:

    Thanks, Suzanne, for introducing us to Hillary. I always love reading the bio of a new-to-me author.

  5. carylkane says:

    Wonderful interview with Hillary! I enjoy learning about new-to-me authors. Thank you for the giveaway! 🙂

  6. Terrill Rosado says:

    I have the first two books and can’t wait to get a hold of this one. I love the cover on this one.

  7. Regina Elliott says:

    I love to read and always have ! There are no Authors that I don’t like cause I love to think about how different they are and the style ,I’m looking forward to reading this book very much so Thanks

  8. Ellen Gray says:

    I read the first in this series and have yet to read the second although it is on my list. Maybe I’ll win and have an excuse to buy #2!