I’m delighted to have Lisa Wilkes, author of Flight Path, on the blog today. Lisa and I met through our writers group (@2020debuts on Twitter and IG) and it’s been a real pleasure getting to know her. We have more in common than I could have imagined, from our taste in books to our love of travel and our devotion to our furbabies, to name a few.
I hope you enjoy getting to know more about Lisa and her debut contemporary romance.
Congratulations, Lisa, and thanks so much for taking part in this author exchange!
AK: Tell us a little about yourself.
LW: Greetings, new friends! I never know how to introduce myself; I often tell people I’m from “everywhere,” since I’ve lived a nomadic life since age eighteen. But then my husband promptly corrects me by stating that I’m from Chicago. Technically, that’s true…so I suppose we can start there! I was born in Chicago, an oddball who didn’t care about clothes or toys but loooved to write. And save animals. I remember rescuing a stray cat when I was seven years old. I carried her home in my arms and begged my parents to let me keep her. A year later, I wrote my first “book,” featuring a calico rescue cat. It was 69 pages of pure garbage, hand-written in a technicolor Lisa Frank spiral notebook. Although it was perhaps the lamest story ever told, it sparked a lifelong desire to write books.
I moved to Florida for college. During my sophomore year, I penned my first full-length adult novel, which included several rescue animals. Since then, I haven’t stopped traveling or writing. Or rescuing animals, for that matter! I became a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines when I was twenty-five years old. It’s the perfect career for a starry-eyed daydreamer like myself. Thanks to my mobile job, I have lived in seven major cities within the US and three foreign countries.
A decade later, I still look forward to every work trip. I relish each opportunity to visit a new city and make some friends along the way. In 2016, I moved to Dallas for graduate school. I met my husband the first week I moved here. Three years later, we have two affectionate kittycats and a hyper, good-natured German Shepherd. We plan to adopt a child in the near future. He or she will grow up in a house filled with furbabies and books and unconditional love.
AK: What’s the premise of your book?
LW: Flight Path follows a Skyline Airways flight attendant, Callie Schneider, on a bicoastal adventure sparked by one night of passion. Although it’s classified as a romance, I consider it a tale of daydreams and wanderlust more than anything else. Callie is a free-spirited, creative soul who’s bold/crazy enough to chase her far-fetched dreams.
Callie’s entire life is a fast-paced ode to the thrill of adventure. She’s not afraid to take risks, which is perhaps what I love most about her. No stranger to failure or disappointment, Callie charges forward despite the potential consequences. She follows her whimsical heart to the farthest corners of the world because she’d rather remain true to herself than wallow in regrets and what-ifs.
AK: What inspired you to write it?
LW: Flight Path is pure fiction. However, the idea arose from a story told to me by a fellow flight attendant and a bizarre dream I had one week later. The plot is a product of my imagination, yet there are traces of reality embedded throughout the novel. It was really fun to re-live my days as a San Francisco resident; there’s no other place on Earth quite like SF. I also enjoyed depicting the sharp contrast between California and Florida. While the two states are polar opposites in many ways, they each have noteworthy strengths. Flight Path gave me a chance to capture, on paper, the essence of each locale.
AK: What are you most looking forward to this debut year? And conversely, what are you most nervous about?
LW: What I’m looking forward to most in 2020 is the fact that I will see my novel in print. It’s the 13th one I have penned, and it is a physical representation of my refusal to give up, even when failure felt imminent. I never imagined I would be a published author. I’ve been writing books since elementary school but, for a long time, it seemed the world had no desire to read those stories. After college, I tried to grab the attention of publishing houses for several years. I failed miserably, time and time again. I am proud of Flight Path because it embodies a deep-seated passion for the written word as well as a stubborn refusal to let rejection define me.
Conversely, I am most nervous about the promotions involved with a book release. I have no background whatsoever in PR or marketing, so it’s all new to me! To be honest, I am basically making it up as I go along. I’ve heard this is a common sentiment among first-time novelists, so that knowledge gives me some comfort.
The good news is, I fly for free so I can easily (and happily!) travel to any/every city in order to spread the word about my debut novel.
AK: What authors do you admire and/or have influenced your development as a writer? Please feel free to add specific books, we love recommendations!
LW: Am I allowed to include you, Anita Kushwaha, as an author I admire most?! I swear, I’m not looking for brownie points. What I truly adore about your novel Side by Side is the fact that you took a difficult subject, one that’s considered taboo in certain cultures, and explored the depth of pain and loss surrounding that very topic. Not only did you bring an important issue to the forefront, you did so with mind-blowing grace and poignance. I am amazed by books with the power to transform lives. Yours definitely falls under that category.
I’d also like to add Meg Cabot to my list of admirable authors, for a strange but valid reason. She wrote The Princess Diaries, which was turned into a movie starring Anne Hathaway in the early 2000s. I met Meg at a writer’s conference years ago; I doubt she even remembers the encounter. I was in my early 20s, crushed by the weight of rejection yet still hoping to possibly, perhaps, maybe get published someday.
I’ll never forget the way that Meg Cabot pulled me aside, abandoning her table for a few moments. She spoke openly. She asked me about my novels and offered her best, most heartfelt advice. By that point, Ms. Cabot was already an international superstar. Yet she took the time to speak with an admiring fan, a random twenty-something aspiring author with zero credits to her name.
That blew me away. It really stuck with me, even after all these years. I find it so refreshing when people use their successes to help others, as opposed to building a pedestal with their personal victories. Thank you, Meg Cabot. You inspired me. You reminded me that my writings were, in fact, worthy of others’ time.
AK: What are you working on now?
LW: I currently have two works in progress! My publisher has sent a call for submissions about summer romances, so I’m working on a novella that takes place in Corpus Christi (a beach town in Southern Texas) and features a rescue dog. Shocking, right?! Some things, like my love of animals, will never change.
The other project in the works is a full-length romance about a SkyLine flight attendant, Alexis Brennan, who begins a new relationship with a pilot just as her brother falls extremely ill. This novel addresses family dynamics during crisis, as well as the enduring, unbreakable love between siblings. It’s much more serious and tragic than my debut novel, Flight Path. I’m hoping this next novel (working title: Mid-Flight) can provide solace to anyone whose family has been impacted by mental illness.
AK: How long did it take me to complete Flight Path?
LW: Interestingly, I wrote Flight Path in one month, between fall and spring semester of graduate school. Most of the books I’ve written in the past have taken a minimum of six months to complete, but this one felt different. I was highly-motivated, devoid of other commitments (I basically wrote while I was home, or on a flight, or in a hotel room during my layovers), and wholeheartedly committed. I wanted to finish my novel before school resumed and, once again, took over my life. Somehow, I completed the book within my ridiculous, self-imposed time frame. I spent months and months revising the novel, but I am still a bit shocked that I actually penned 66, 000 words in the span of thirty days. And this happens to be my first novel that received an offer for publication! Go figure…
Release date: January 29, 2020
Flight attendant Callie Schneider doesn’t remember much about her wild South Florida layover. Her one night stand with sexy stranger Andrew was great, but a relationship is the last thing on her mind. Her life, a blend of global adventures and dazzling nights, is already perfect. Repercussions from that night threaten her carefree lifestyle and she is forced to reevaluate what is truly important. Will a bi-coastal romance filled with surprises she could never imagine finally bring her down to earth?
Where to Get a Copy:
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Publisher’s website: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/