Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April Author Interview: Alice Jay Wisler

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I met Alice Wisler through the American Christian Fiction Writers Association and one of the Facebook groups that I frequent. When she highlighted her latest book Under the Silk Hibiscus, I had to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Be sure to check out her website. I’d already read her lovely book Still Life in Shadows and it was great getting to meet this wonderful author.

Here’s Amazon’s blurb for Under the Silk Hibicus:

During World War Two, Nathan and his family are sent to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans. Nathan's one desire is to protect the family's gold pocket watch, a family heirloom brought over from Japan. He fails; the watch is stolen. Struggling to make sense of his life in a bleak camp as the only responsible man of the household, Nathan discovers truths about his family, God, and the girl he loves.

I found the book to be a deep dive into a setting I had only passing knowledge of. Nathan’s story and the view Alice gives of his Japanese American culture is so vivid, you’ll be captured immediately.  Read this book!


ZM: Welcome to The Shade, Alice. I love Under the Silk Hibiscus because you let us into Nathan and his family’s life without flinching from the ugliness of the WWII era. How did your knowledge of the Japanese culture aid your depiction of this very real family?

Alice:  Thanks for letting me be your guest, Zan.  It’s good to be here.  Growing up in Japan helped me understand many of the cultural aspects of my fictionalized family in my novel. I know that family, responsibility, and honor are important and highly valued. I wanted to make sure I depicted that with the Mori family.

ZM: How did you start writing? Tell us a bit about your journey to publication.

Alice:  I wanted to write a book ever since I could read books.  I was in first and second grades at Kyoto International School when my teacher, Miss Terwilliger, had me read my stapled-and-stick-figure illustrated stories to my classmates.  She believed in me and that stuck with me over the years.

ZM: What inspires your books? How do you discover the stories?

Alice: People, glimpses of the heart, truths God teaches—those all inspire me. I discover my stories while driving to a conference, while on a walk on a spring morning, when sharing coffee with friends. I keep a little notebook in my purse to jot things down when something strikes me.  Sometimes, the muse hits me during Sunday morning and it looks like I’m taking sermon notes in the church pew, but really, I’m deciding how the sermon topic will fit in with my main character!

ZM: (whispering) I’ve been known to do that, too. It’ll be our secret. ;-)

Many craft books stress that writers must read and read a lot. Who is your favorite author, or what is your favorite genre? What draws you to a book you read for enjoyment?

Alice:  I love contemporary fiction the best.  My favorite authors are Amy Tan and Elizabeth Berg for their ability to capture people and scenes that tug at my heart. I like novels that are well-crafted, have a touch of humor, and are realistic.

ZM: What is your next book about and when can we expect to get to read it?

Alice:  We shall see, Zan, we shall see.  I’m working on a number of both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts right now.

ZM: Thank you for dropping by Into the Shade of the Cherry Tree, Alice! I can’t wait to read some more of your stories.

Alice J. Wisler was born and raised in Japan as a missionary kid. She is the author of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, and five novels. Rain Song and How Sweet It Is were Christy finalists. Ever since the cancer death of her four-year-old son Daniel in 1997, she has found solace in writing from heartache and teaches Writing the Heartache workshops across the country.
She lives in Durham, NC with her husband and children where they have a wood carving business, Carved By Heart. Visit her website at alicewisler.com.

Next Week: IWSG--Fail Big