2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 0 books toward her goal of 200 books.

Book Review AND Author Interview: Lara’s Story by Diane Merrill Wigginton

Today I’m pleased to bring you the latest historical fiction from Diane Merrill Wigginton, plus a bonus author interview. Enjoy!

Shattered by heartbreak…

“When a heart breaks, it does not break evenly, cleaving in half exactly down the middle.” 

Surrounded by her large, boisterous family in 1840s Ireland, Lara Flannigan has never known anything but love and belonging—until the day tragedy strikes, leaving her abandoned and forced into indentured servitude.

Remade in a new world.

Just when all hope seems lost, Lara is discovered by a childless American couple, visiting Ireland to aid in the famine-relief effort. With barely a chance to look back, she’s swept away to a bustling new continent—and a dizzying new reality. One of petticoats, opulent townhouses, and the cold reaches of Philadelphia high society. Desperate for a future, Lara works tirelessly to fit into her new life… while still haunted by a past that won’t let her go.

Set in a fascinating historical period, Lara’s Story is a gripping young adult novel that explores the strength of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness to heal a broken heart.

Another lovely, lyrical period drama from Wigginton…

Lara’s Story is the tale of an Irish immigrant finding her way in the world after a rather horrible series of events separates her from everyone and everything she knows. But as is so often the case in Wigginton’s stories, the book is so much more than that. There’s betrayal, redemption, perseverance, rags-to-riches adventure, love, and of course a message about the value of a life well lived. The author manages to weave insights about life, love, and the importance of remaining true to yourself and trusting that you will find your way into her novels, and she does so with a delicate yet pointed touch that keeps the fiction enjoyable while sneaking in the life lessons along the way…

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Author Interview
Author Spotlight Question and Answer form

Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where do you come from? Any interesting tidbits about your background.
I write under my current name, Diane Merrill Wigginton. In school I was known as Diane Fraiser, because at fifteen I was adopted by my step-father, Alvin Fraiser. He was from Yazoo City, Mississippi. I wasn’t close to my real father growing up because he had another family he was raising in Riverside, California and I lived in San Diego, California. I was a shy child and often liked to hang back and watch people before I got involved. Then in tenth grade I took a drama class that changed my life. It was like the world opened up a little and I came out of my shell. I also had a best friend that I hung out with and she was anything but shy, which helped to open me up even more. Her name was Gigi Barnier and we were inseparable. I still consider her one of my best friends to this day.

What prompted you to become a writer? Was there some experience that drove you in that direction, some inspiration or someone?
I was living in the small community of Herald, California near Sacramento, with my husband and kids in January of 2011, when I got a call from my mother that my brother, David was in the hospital and he was asking for me. David and I were thirteen months apart in age and very close growing up. He would call me out of the blue just to say hi, and let me know what was going on with him and with his girls and we kept in touch when we could. I was surprised to hear that he was very ill, so I left right away for San Diego to be by his side. I had one day with him where he was coherent, followed by two days of him unconscious. My brother passed away that Friday, two weeks shy of his forty-ninth birthday, surrounded by his wife, two girls and loving family. A few months later my father called to tell me that he had cancer, and I lost him in early December, eleven months after my brothers passing. I was devastated. When the smoke cleared, I tried to understand why it went down the way that it did, and all I could come up with was, “life was short, too short to wait for it to happen to you. If you have a dream, live it. If you want to do something in life, do it. I decided that it was time to get off my duff and make my dreams happen.” And keeping with that philosophy, I decided to live the rest of my life, with gusto, grabbing the bull by the horns and hanging on for dear life, because life truly is too short to wait for dreams to simply happen to you.

Is there a message weaved into your writing? 
I always try to leave a message behind in the end. Something the main character learned about life, of themselves. A glimpse of wisdom they picked up along the way.

Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I know that the proper way to write a book is to sit down and plot out an out the entire story line but… and this is a big but, I find that it is more exciting to be just as surprised by the twists and turns as the reader. I like to keep the story line moving and so I throw in a few unexpected plot twists here and there that keeps the reader on their toes. It’s just more fun that way. The only thing that is particularly challenging for me is the editing. I am not an editor and will never profess to be an expert at editing. I can never identify my own mistakes and I prefer to let others handle that part. I love being involved with the design of the book cover and interior stuff but I will never be much good at editing.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love Diana Gabaldon and her Outland Series. I met her over 20 years ago at a Scottish Festival in San Diego and I bought 4 of her novels, that she signed for me. Her success gives me hope that one day I will have my adventure series made into a T.V Series. Fingers crossed. I just hope it doesn’t take me 20 years.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I always learn something about myself when I write and I always reveal something about myself in my writings. Each book is like a love letter to my readers, so, if you want to continue learning things about me you have to read my books. I feel that they make me grow as a person every time I sit down to write one. It’s like reaching inside of myself and laying my heart out onto each page as the words come out of me.

About the Author
Diane Merrill Wigginton was born in Riverside, California in 1963. Her family moved to San Diego near the end of 1970, where she grew up in the newly developed community of Mira Mesa. Spending portions of her summers each year in Burly, Idaho with her mother’s parents, Florence and Orval Merrill, Diane developed a love of animals and a respect for the land. It was during this time on the farm riding horses, herding cattle and taming wild kittens that Diane developed a love of storytelling. She dreamed that one day she would become a published author and share her stories with the world. Having spent her entire life in California, Diane and her husband made the bold move from Sacramento, California to Kalispell, Montana to retire in February 2018. Now she’s able to pursue her passion for writing books full-time. “I am thrilled and elated to be doing what I love.”

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