Saturday, November 14, 2009

Alice Wisler's Rain Song

Rain Song: Pineapple chutney, cucumber sandwiches, Southern etiquette, a donkey named Maggie McCormick, an Irish pet store owner, and Earl Grey tea are some of the important aspects about a novel set in the Mount Olive Pickle Company region of the United States. Kimono, koi, playgrounds with swings, and songs about the falling rain, fill the story from the Japanese side of the globe.A little about Rain Song...Thirty-one-year-old Nicole, a middle school English teacher in Mount Olive, is surrounded by loving, though quirky, relatives like her maternal grandmother Ducee and great-aunt Iva. Trying everyone's patience is three-year-old Monet who likes to smear her fingerprints all over Nicole's 55-gallon tank of marine fish. While the relatives plan the annual family reunion, Nicole connects with Harrison, a childhood friend, who helps her fill in the gaps of her mysterious childhood in Kyoto, Japan.1) How did this story come to you?
Rain Song came to me over the years, as I tweaked it from first person to third and back to first again. I grew up as a missionary kid in Japan, so I wanted to write about my birth land. I found the concept of someone knowing more about your past than you do an intriguing one. I like the last line from one of the early chapters, “Nicole, my mother remembers the night you were born.” That line provides mystery, and I always like a little mystery in my novels.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I sent my manuscript to many agents, and received lots of rejections. Yes, I felt defeated. One rejection letter told me that I needed to change the tone of the narrative voice in my story. After I did, I sent the first three chapters to an agent I’d just discovered on, and she called to say she wanted to see the whole manuscript. I sent it, and waited. Two weeks later she called to say she wanted to represent me. She sent Rain Song (I had titled it The Kimono Lady Sings) to about ten publishers, and almost immediately she heard from Bethany House. This publisher was interested, and offered a two-book deal. I was elated! I’m so glad that they let me into the club!
3) What do you love most about being a writer?
I enjoy it when a character surprises me. In Rain Song, Monet, the three-year-old, a.k.a., The Wild Child, was only supposed to have a small role, but she begged for more. I find her character fascinating because she can be demanding, but gradually grows into your heart. Grandma Ducee says you have to look for the “beauty within” each person. Authors needs to be surprised along the way, or if they aren’t, they get bored and have a hard time completing their work.
4) What frustrates you about being a writer?
I always have a great story in my mind, but the capability to get it on paper is often limited. I constantly strive to write beautifully, so that my hope for what is printed will be closer to my vision of not only the story I want to tell, but the style in which I desire for it to be written. Basically, I want to excel, aiming for that trophy called perfection.
5) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I once got on the wrong airplane. Luckily, I got off before it took off and I ended up in Charleston, SC.
My uncle is the author of The Message, Eugene H. Peterson.
Although my novel, Rain Song, is all about family reunions, I’ve never been to one.
6) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
Currently, the manuscript for my third novel, Hatteras Girl, is being read by my editor. (I sure hope she likes it!) Hatteras Girl will be published in the fall of 2010. I’m writing the synopsis for my fourth novel, tentatively titled A Wedding Invitation, to be released in the fall of 2011. Also, I’m promoting my two published novels, Rain Song (Christy Finalist 2009), and How Sweet It Is.
7) Parting comments?
Thanks for the interview! Visit my website, to learn not only about my novels, but about my Writing the Heartache Workshops I give online. Also, sign up for my free newsletter, Literary Lyrics. Here’s the link:

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