Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Because of A Book with Lea Wait

This week, my guest is children's and adult author, Lea Wait.  Here is her bio, in her own words, as posted on her website. 

What I remember most about growing up was wanting to learn everything.

I read historical novels and went to auctions and antique shows with my grandmother, who was an antique doll and toy dealer, and pretended I lived in the past.

I built a tree house with Charlie, who lived two houses away, and we studied the patterns of airplanes flying to and from nearby Newark Airport and imagined being on them. At night we looked at the constellations and dreamed of being astronomers discovering new universes.

In the summer I looked into Maine tide pools, identifying sea creatures who lived between the tides and collecting shells and rocks. I would be a marine biologist.

Until I saw my first political convention on television, and visited the Senate in Washington. Then I wanted to be a senator, or maybe even president.

So many possibilities.

But I always knew that whatever else I did, I would also be a writer.

I majored in drama and English at Chatham College in Pittsburgh. Later I did graduate work in American Civilization at New York University at night while I wrote speeches and films and did strategic planning for AT&T.

I adopted four girls born in Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and India. When they came home they were the ages of the characters in the books I now write for young people. I wrote about the joys and challenges of single parent adoption. In 1977 I started an antique print business.

In 1998 I left corporate life to live in Maine, run my antique print business, and write fulltime.

I’m still excited about learning, and about sharing what I learn. With every book I write, I learn more. I hope there are many books, and many more things to learn, still ahead of me.

Jo March and I
by Lea Wait

I grew up during the 1950s and 60s, but in many ways I had a nineteenth century childhood. I lived with both my parents and my grandparents. My grandmother was an antique dealer specializing in dolls and toys; my father collected 18th and 19th century United States paper money. No house I lived in was built after 1910, and the one I loved most was our summer home, built in 1774. (Today it is where I live and write full time.) Auctions, antique shows, attics to imagine in and old books to discover, were all a part of my childhood.

What was missing were playmates. Although I had two sisters, one was ten years younger than I, and the other, also younger than I, didn’t share my love of history.

So I found my ideal family in a book. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and the sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, with all their trials and faults and joys and sorrows, became my family. I read my copy of Little Women over and over, memorizing pages of it. And the story continued: Little Men, and Jo’s Boys captivated me. I had my favorite of the Little Men (Dan; always Dan,) and I yearned for the lives of the March sisters, as children, and then, as adults.

Of course, then I grew up. I became a writer, as Jo did. I bought a large house outside a city. I didn’t find a wise and kind professor to marry, as Jo did, but I wanted to be a mother, so I adopted four older girls. My daughters were born in Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong and India; they came home when they were 4, 8, 9, and 10. They all had special needs, although none were physically disabled, as one of Jo’s boys was, and none were “feeble minded,” as another of her “little men” was.

But it never occurred to me until I was in my mid-thirties, being interviewed for a newspaper article about adoption, when the young reporter asked me what my favorite book was, that I had created the family I had dreamed of as a child.

We weren’t perfect – far from it! We had our sorrows and our joys and our traumas and our frustrations. But my daughters grew up in a house with four little women, and I became the Jo who helped them to find their futures.

Now I write historical novels for young readers (ages 8-14) as well as mysteries for adults, and I often speak in schools. And I often tell students to read books carefully.

Because – who knows? The book they read today might become a part of their life tomorrow.

It happened to me.

About Little Women:  Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

About Finest Kind:  It is 1838; the Panic of 1837 has taken Jake’s father’s money and job, and 12-year-old Jake and his family have moved from Boston to a small, run-down, farmhouse on the outskirts of Wiscasset, Maine, to start over, bringing with them a deep family secret. When his father’s new job at the lumber mill takes him away from home, Jake’s mother tells him, “I’ll have to depend on you.” But how can Jake find food and prepare for the dangerous cold of a Maine winter when he’s never even chopped wood? How can he protect his mother – and the family secret they brought with them? A job at the local jail, and friendship with a neighbor girl who is also struggling with a family secret, helps. But as the pressures of their new life begin to pull his parents apart, Jake realizes he must also bring his family together to face the future – and their past.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

1 comment:

Theresa Milstein said...

The Finest Kind has an interesting premise. I'll check it out.

Like Lea Wait, it wasn't until my 30s that I realized I wanted to be a writer.

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