|Making Waves, Lake Manawa Series #1|
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It's 1895, and spunky Marguerite Westing is thrilled to discover that her family will summer at Lake Manawa! Escaping her boring suitor, Roger, Marguerite stumbles upon two new loves---sailing and her instructor, Trip. But when her father's gambling threatens to ruin them all, will she marry Roger to save her family's name and fortune? 368 pages, softcover from Revell.
Lorna Seilstad is a history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in and draws her setting from Iowa. This is her first novel.
Favorite Verse: Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our Interview with Lorna Seilstad
Would you please tell us a bit about yourself?
While most kids were going to baseball games on Sunday afternoons, I was going to antique auctions with my parents. Writing Christian historical romances is a natural outgrowth of my love of writing, romance, history, and the Lord. I live in Iowa with my husband and three children--ages 18, 16, and 11. My husband and I teach Bible classes and have worked in youth ministry for over 15 years.
What inspired the concept for Making Waves, Manawa Summers Series #1?
My father grew up in the Lake Manawa area and told me stories about the resort that had once been there. In fact, when the Lake Manawa resort closed in 1927, my grandfather purchased one of the bath houses for $300 and moved it to a lot where the Midway had once stood. The long, narrow building was the house my dad spent his childhood in.
Do you live in the Iowa area? Is there such a place as Lake Manawa or somewhere similar?
I live about six miles from Lake Manawa, and today, it is a state park. All of the fancy pavilions, toboggan water slides, and the Midway are gone now, but the lake is still there. It’s a popular fishing and boating place, and it has an amazing kids park.
Did the upper class actually set up tents for the summer during that era?
Yes! It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? But I do have pictures. Iowa has hot, humid summers. Living in a tent on the lake was much cooler. They brought many of the comforts of home, including their help, so “roughing it” wasn’t quite what we’d expect. The men took the streetcars to work every morning.
What parts of Making Waves are factual? Sailing for women?
Most of the book is factual. The resort, the toboggan water slides, the gamblers “hog farm” on the county line, the foot races, and even the water carnival modeled after the one at the World’s Fair were all true. Women didn’t sail, but I’m sure some wanted to as badly as Marguerite.
How closely is Making Waves based on your life experiences or that of your family?
The character of Marguerite is roughly based on my sister-in-law. One day, I thought, “What would she do with all that wit if she lived in a time when she couldn’t say those things aloud?” That’s how the character was born.
What inspired you to choose that era?
I love history and was sad to think this part of our local history was being lost. Even those who grew up in Council Bluffs, didn’t know Lake Manawa had once been “the” place to go. Thousands of visitors came every day. I wanted to bring those days back to life and capture the feeling of that time and place.
How did you choose the location for the setting?
The more I researched the Lake Manawa resort, the more I knew I had to tell its story. The setting was almost a character of its own.
How long did Making Waves take you to complete?
I wrote Making Waves in about ten months, not counting research time.
What is the symbolism for the title Making Waves?
Marguerite Westing “makes waves” wherever she goes, and she likes it. It drives her mother crazy, but draws others to admire her. She lived at a time when women were just beginning to make waves in what was acceptable and challenge those traditional roles.
Do you have a favorite character in Making Waves? Why?
Besides Marguerite, I think my favorite character is Lilly, Marguerite’s personal maid. She has a dry sense of humor and a no-nonsense way about her. I love how she handles Marguerite. I’m so glad she gets her own spotlight in book 3.
How much research did Making Waves take?
I spent a lot of time in the local library. I think my fines supplied the library with at least a couple of new books. One man, Frank Smetana, had interviewed and compiled a history of the area back when those who remembered it were still alive. He published a book in the 70’s called The History of Lake Manawa. That book was invaluable as were old issues of the Daily Nonpariel and Omaha Bee newspapers.
What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Making Waves?
I loved learning about Miss Fishbaugh, the hefty woman diver. She wore a bathing costume made of asbestos and a collar around her neck. Then, every evening at nine o’clock, she climbed the 30 foot dive tower, doused herself with gasoline, and lit herself on fire before diving into the water. I can’t imagine what possessed her to try this the first time.
How many books will be in this series?
There are three books in this series. Each book is a stand-alone and features a different character. Book 2 is set in 1901 and book 3, in 1906.
Who are the main characters in the second book in the series?
Book two is set in 1901 and talks about Lake Manawa’s baseball team and a spunky suffragist. Emily was a young friend of Marguerite’s in book one, but is grown now. The third book brings a roller coaster designer to the lake to meet Lilly, Marguerite’s no-nonsense, former personal maid.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Balancing it all is always hard. Besides writing, I teach two Bible classes a week, do graphic design work, serve as a 4-H leader, and do occasional wedding coordinating. Keeping my priorities in order is sometimes hard to do. I’m blessed with a wonderfully, supportive husband and understanding kids.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love the research. I’ve lost more than one day to chasing a “rabbit” while researching. You can’t help but read an article in an old newspaper when the headline reads “Human head found on railroad track.”
What was your favorite book (s) as a child?
I loved books and couldn’t get enough of them, but Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was hands-down my favorite.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in between?)
I used to be a seat-of-your-pants writer, but I’m more of an outliner now. I write the synopsis and then a rough outline. I always know the beginning and the end, but the rest may change as I go.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
My characters behave themselves fairly well. Occasionally, they try to steal a scene, but they know I’m the one who controls the “delete” key.
I try to write characters I’d like to be friends with. They have flaws, quite obvious ones, but who wants a perfect friend? They do become “real” to me, and it’s hard to let them go.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
I love writing historical romance and am thrilled to be able to write it. I’m excited to keep working on the next two books in this series.
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
I’ve been blessed by so many influential people in my life—parents, teachers, mentors, friends. One of them is my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade English teacher. She had us write creative writing stories every Friday. That’s when I fell in love with writing. A journalism teacher I had in high school also made a big impact. She wielded a mean red pen. I re-wrote my first feature story eleven times!
What message would you like your readers to take from Making Waves?
I hope that readers will come away from reading Making Waves knowing how much God values truth—especially the truth we tell ourselves. It’s so easy to lie to ourselves or justify decisions, but God wants our complete honesty.
What is your greatest achievement?
I have the rare distinction of being able to say I’ve potty trained at least twenty kids. Does that count? After my oldest son was born, I gave up teaching high school English to be home with him. I provided daycare for teachers’ children. Maybe my greatest achievement was keeping one of the rather risk taking boys –Thomas—alive.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
Janette Oke once described her characters as “paper missionaries.” I like that idea, because that is exactly what they are. I don’t separate my mission as a writer from my mission as a Christian. My goal is to get myself and as many other people as possible to heaven. I want my stories to help Christians be more like Christ and to point them continually the need of our Savior.
What do you do to get away from it all? Do you sail?
I don’t sail, but I’d love to. I had a lot of help from a friend in that research area. With three kids, two of whom are teenagers, getting away from it all is not an easy task. We love visiting my mother-in-love in Minnesota. She has a house on the lake, and we can really relax and enjoy one another there.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d be honored for readers to stop by my website: www.lornaseilstad.com or join me on Facebook (Lorna Seilstad) or Twitter (lornaseilstad).