Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | January 9, 2011

Interview with Elizabeth E. Wilder, IAN Member, Author of “The Spruce Gum Box”

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Elizabeth E. Wilder from one of my favorite states, Maine.

Hello, please give us a bit of biography to start.

The first 70 years of my life were divided equally between my home state of Massachusetts and Maine. I am a true New Englander with the accent to prove it. I was a child of WWII who was raised with love by many while my father was off to the Pacific protecting my liberties and my mother was working many shifts making bullets and parachutes. Growing up, I thought everyone could walk to their grandparent’s homes and knew neighbors were to be respected. I have degrees in art and elementary education and bounced from one profession to another while raising my three children. I have been married 51 years to a true Maine-iac and two years ago we relocated to an independent senior community in PA to get Dad off the roof with the snow rake. PA? – Our daughter and family live three miles away.

T. When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing in one form or another since I first could hold a pencil and before I really knew a thing about spelling. I still run across a poem or short story from those days. For many years, I wrote a play each summer with a group of friends and then performed in a neighbor’s garage because it had a door and large driveway. With a very full adult life, my writing was sporadic and I was always telling the family that I was going to write a book someday. My creative need was filled with painting, photography and poetry – some of them published.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor?

I can’t think of a particular person that led me to writing. I believe it was my reading that influenced me the most. I loved words and would wait impatiently for my grandfather’s Reader’s Digest to arrive each month so I could study the Word Power section and took pride in the months that I knew all the definitions. I would devour books and make weekly treks to the library. Authors that could carry me away by vivid descriptions were my favorites. I enjoyed historical fiction when a skilled writer would not only immerse me in facts but enthrall me with imagination. I did a bit of creative writing but I really enjoy the research that goes into stories based on historical events where I can put my own twist on the events with my characters.

T. Please tell us about your current book.

The Spruce Gum Box is based on the nearly unheard of Aroostook War that took place between Great Britain and the United States in northern Maine in the mid 1800’s. I first heard of this when we went to visit the Wilder Museum in Washburn, Maine. My husband’s family had been part of the early ‘pioneers’ to move up the Aroostook River to establish the town near where his great-great uncle built the first saw mill in the area. We were told how the town was incorporated by the settlers and some Canadian families that already lived along the river. I asked where the Canadians came from and why were they there. No one could answer and that led to the five years of research that fills my novel. The story took seed in my mind and I knew how it started and ended but it needed a lot of maturing to fill in the rest. On my 70th birthday, my daughter and SIL gave me a blog (LizLogic.com) to get me writing again. A few months later, I told her I had a story swimming in my head about a father and infant trying to survive the wilds of the deep forests in Maine. She told me if I wrote it, she would help me get it published. A year later, I handed her my manuscript and it was launched on my 72nd birthday.

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or in progress?

In my research on The Spruce Gum Box, I discovered many events that I did not realize took place in Maine. I have started a sequel taking a few characters to another Maine river and following them for another twenty years. The first book covers 1824 to 1844. The next picks up from there. Also now that I have finally figured out that writing is want I want to do when I grow up, the ideas keep flowing. I am working on a book based on recollections of a child of the 40’s and 50’s. I am also working with the activities director of an Alzheimer unit on booklets that we hope will interest residents in the advanced stage of this hideous decease.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

I feel very fortunate to have started on this path at the early stages of digital publishing. So much has advanced in just the couple years I’ve been involved. When we were ready to start the goal of publishing, we wanted to produce the best product possible. We did not skimp on the talent needed to accomplish this and had the manuscript edited professionally. We found a wonderful cover and page designer and she worked close to us to complete the “look” and feel. The only thing I find missing in the Kindle downloads are the chapter headings that were designed for the book version. But to me, having my book in e-form, is pure magic. The quality of indie published books has grown and I feel will continue to do so.

T. Anything else to share?

I was asked if finishing my novel was part of my bucket list. Absolutely not. Completing this project is just the beginning for me – not the end. Finally getting to the Grand Canyon is a bucket list item. I have come to realize that writing and publishing are just parts of the equation but to be an author today, you must be willing to market. I know I would rather stay close to the writing but getting out and getting my book noticed is the real world.

T. Thank you.

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