WILLA'S GROVE: AUTHOR Q&A with Laura Munson @lauramunson #interview

We are thrilled to have Laura Munson with us today to talk about her new book, WILLA'S GROVE, and to share her knowledge of the publishing biz.

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The idea came to me after leading one of my Haven Writing Retreats in Montana. Over and over I hear, “This just changed my life.” Or “From now on it’s before Haven and after Haven.” Or “Yes, this was about writing, but it’s about so much more.” And I thought, How can I possibly capture the magic of what happens when people come together far from home, to powerfully and intentionally tap into the essence of their self-expression, their voices, their heart language? How can I show how essential temporary community can be? How can I call people to take this stand for themselves—especially when they feel alone or misunderstood or isolated in their lives? How can I make a case for bridging to people outside your daily life in order to bridge more authentically back to your home community? And these four women were born. This book is in no way about a writing retreat. But I hope that the spirit of what happens at Haven…happens in the pages of Willa’s Grove.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
My publisher for this novel is Blackstone Publishing, which is an indie publisher, well known for its audio work, and now print books. My best-selling memoir, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is was published by Penguin/Putnam (Amy Einhorn) and so I’ve had the good fortune to experience traditional publishing with both Big 5 and Indie houses, both of which require an agent to broker the deal. I’ve been with my agent for over a decade and she is fantastic at finding just the right editor/publisher for my work. I always tell writers: you are looking for your match in a publisher. They need to truly get your book. And it only takes one!

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
The whole experience of my first book surprised me! I’d been writing novels for years, dedicated to learning that craft…but I departed from fiction to write my way through a difficult time in my life. It was then that I realized I had a memoir that could help a lot of people because it was a deep study in how the mind both serves and sabotages us. So, on a whim, I decided to write the short version of that book and submitted it to the Modern Love column of the New York Times. That essay went viral and suddenly the Oprah show was calling, Good Morning America, you name it. Thankfully, the book was already finished, so my agent submitted it and suddenly I got to pick between two of the top publishers in all of New York publishing. The book hit the New York Times best-seller list, it was published in nine countries, and became an international best-seller. I did big media all over the world and countless interviews. It was quite a ride! As much as I loved how deeply that memoir helped people, I’m happy to not be the main character in my book this time around. My protagonist, and the three other characters in the book aren’t me at all, nor are they anyone I know. And yet…they are all of us.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
I’m a very visual person, so as much as I’d like to say don’t judge a book by its cover, as a book reader, I’m always attracted to a book cover. It starts the conversation between the author and the book buyer. That said, authors don’t have much of a say in regard to the cover, unless they are self-publishing or hybrid publishing. I’ve been very happy with both of my book covers. They both take common nouns and turn them into icons, and I love that those nouns play important roles in both stories.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Giving tips to writers is what I do all year long, as I now have over 1000 alums of my Haven Writing Programs. I tell them that it’s all about the writing. Whether it’s long form or short form, the project you are working on is the thing. Don’t worry about platform building, networking, or the business of publishing. Yes, those things are important once you are ready to put your work out into the world. But first learn who you are on the page. Sit in that intersection of heart and craft and mind that is the writing life. This process can take years. Learn to love it. That’s the one thing you can control. And that’s good news!

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?
I am currently working on a book about self-expression, and another memoir. I have about five novels that are ready for publication, but I wanted Willa’s Grove to be my second published book. Even though it’s in a different genre from my memoir, I feel that fans of my first book will understand its themes of the power of women supporting women and the essential need for community.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?
The book is set in a small town in Montana, yet the four characters come from a diversity of backgrounds, from coast to coast and in-between. In many ways, Montana is their ultimate teacher and that is new territory for not only these women, but for many readers. I think that reading this book will be like an interlude from life, as much as it is for the characters in Willa’s Grove.

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?
I want Willa’s Grove to start a movement of small gatherings, friend to friend to friend to friend, using the same model that is depicted in the book. It begins with an invitation: You are invited to the rest of your life. It’s time to start saying yes to the profound invitations of our lives, and this book shows what’s possible when we do!
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?
I hope that this book lands in the hearts of many people globally. Now is the time to speak our truth.


LAURA MUNSON is the bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is, which chronicles her journey through her own midlife crossroads. Drawing from the striking response to her memoir, the essay version of it in the New York Times “Modern Love” column, and her speaking events at women’s conferences across the US, Laura founded the acclaimed Haven Writing Retreats and Workshops. After watching hundreds of people find their unique and essential voices under the big sky of Montana she calls home, Laura created Willa, the invitation, the friends, and the town to share what she has learned with people globally. Her work has been published and featured in many media outlets throughout the world.


Website: https://www.lauramunsonauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauramunson
Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/lauramunsonauthor/


In this powerful and inspiring novel, three women, from coast to coast and in between, open their mailboxes to the same intriguing invitation. Although leading entirely different lives, each has found herself at a similar, jarring crossroads. Right when these women thought they’d be comfortably settling into middle age, their carefully curated futures have turned out to be dead ends. The sender of the invitation is Willa Silvester, who is reeling from the untimely death of her beloved husband and the reality that she must say goodbye to the small mountain town they founded together. Yet as Willa mourns her losses, an impossible question keeps staring her in the face: So now what?

Struggling to find the answer alone, fiercely independent Willa eventually calls a childhood friend who happens to be in her own world of hurt—and that’s where the idea sparks. They decide to host a weeklong interlude from life, and invite two other friends facing their own quandaries. Soon the four women converge at Willa’s Montana homestead, a place where they can learn from nature and one another as they contemplate their second acts together in the rugged wilderness of big sky country.

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2uxmKjH

 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/2NS3HaM



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