us a little bit about your writing journey.
I’ve wanted to be a writer for
about as long as I can remember. A special first grade teacher, Mrs.
Krackhardt, put that idea into my head when she wrote on my report card
that she expected to see my name in a magazine one day.
I didn’t get serious about
freelance writing and selling until after I’d graduated from college,
married, and started a family. I knew I wanted to write novels, books
that meant something, that explore the human soul and our need for a
vibrant connection with the God who created us.
Twelve years ago, I came across
a notebook in which I’d jotted down some of my grandmother’s stories,
and I had the idea of combining her real-life stories with a fictional
family that is similar to my own family. (My father would like you to
know that we are not as neurotic as the people in the book.) That
little germ of an idea became my first mainstream novel, Tending
After discussions with Warner Books and NAL Penguin Putnam, we sold the
book to Penguin. Tending Roses has since been
reprints and has brought home many wonderful letters from readers all
over the world.
Several years ago, I had the
chance to write for Bethany House Publishers, so for the last few years
I’ve been writing mainstream fiction for Penguin in the ABA and for
Bethany House in the CBA market, although the markets cross over quite
a bit. I consider both opportunities an incredible blessing. What a
place for the shy girl writing stories in the back row at school to end
How did this
particular story take root in your heart?
Several years ago, I got a
proposition from a man.
Just kidding. Dandelion
did begin with an e-mail and a proposition of sorts, though. My books
are more often considered women’s fiction, but I get letters from male
readers. Several years ago, I received an e-mail from Ed Stevens. He is
a retired engineer and said he would be happy to assist with technical
projects to help spread word of my books on the Internet. As we worked
on creating YouTube channels and speeding up my hamster-wheel Internet
service, he shared some of his work history as well as his thoughts on
fatherhood and the moments that matter in a life. He had amazing
stories to tell.
Those conversations became the
genesis for Dandelion Summer, which an early review
called a cross
between Water for Elephants, The Help, and Driving
Miss Daisy—if you
can imagine that combination. The story is told from two points of
view—Norman, an aging widower who just wants to be left alone, and
Epiphany, a young girl who needs someone to believe in her. When
Norman’s daughter hires Epiphany to cook for him in the afternoons, he
isn’t happy about it, but over time, God does a work through their
reluctant and rocky friendship.
Norman’s history mirrors that of
my friend, Ed, who worked with the Howard Hughes team that designed
America’s first moon lander, Surveyor 1. What those men accomplished
with 1960’s electronics was truly a moment of American Camelot. Norman
shares his memories with Epiphany, and in Epiphany’s
presence, Norman also finds links to a mystery in his past, his
memories of another life, long-buried recollections of childhood abuse
and a black housekeeper who saved him. While working together to solve
the mystery of Norman’s true identity, both Norman and Epiphany are
I love when a story comes to
life on its own, and Dandelion Summer was that kind of story. Norman
and Epie were fun, funny, and sometimes just downright difficult. They
were real to me because of the personal connections. I wish every young
woman could have a “Norman” in her life, and every lonely elderly
person could have a young person who needs guidance and infuses new
life into an aging soul.
you like readers to say to their friends after they read this story?
I hope Dandelion Summer
sort of story readers will talk about after the last page is turned.
Really, is there anything better than a book that takes root inside you
hope they will relate to
Norman’s struggle with grief and the hopelessness of yearning for the
past. I hope they’ll connect with Epiphany, her need for male attention
in her life, and the potential destructiveness of that need. We don’t
always realize how much young girls (and grown-up girls, for that
matter) yearn for a father’s love, and how much difference that love
that, I hope readers will
see through Norman a chance to relive a shining moment in American
history. I hope readers will want to stand up and cheer. We are still
the sons and daughters of men like Norman (and his real-life
counterpart Ed Stevens) who worked around the clock to beat the
Russians to the moon, and this is still the greatest country in the
do you think stories are important for communicating truth?
They help us see one another’s
truths. In our fast-paced culture, there’s a tendency to judge based on
surface impressions and sound bites, to lump people into rigid
categories. When I’m writing, I think often of the little tourist
plaque on my grandmother’s kitchen wall—Grant that I might
my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins. It’s
those phrases we’ve heard so much that we don’t really think about it,
but the wisdom is profound.
The written word, above all
other media, gives readers the ability to live in the mind, body, and
soul of another person—to show us another person’s truth. In a book,
readers can experience the world through another’s experiences.
Hopefully, when we can live for a short time in someone else’s shoes,
we realize that everyone struggles, everyone experiences sadness and
joy, everyone yearns for happiness and fulfillment. We stumble, get up,
and stumble again. What we really need when we’re down is not to have
stones thrown at us but to have a hand extended, to be shown the grace
that God has shown us through Christ. I hope this is the message people
take away from Norman and Epiphany’s journey and from all my books.
Where can we
find your book?
Anywhere books are sold! The
book will also be available in audio and large print. Dandelion
is also a Proverbs 31 She Reads Book Club pick for July and is
available through the Proverbs 31 site, where purchases help to support
the P31 ministry.
Find our more about Dandelion
Summer or read excerpts at www.Lisawingate.com. View a video
from the book on our YouTube channel HERE. Or view the
Book Club World Premier of Dandelion Summer (something totally new that
was so much fun to do!) HERE.
is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular
inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author. Lisa is one of
a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and
general markets in mainstream fiction. Her works have been featured by
the National Reader's Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book
Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles, Crossings Book Club,
Women’s World Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, and have been
short-listed for various awards, including the American Christian
Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Award. Lisa also spends time on the
road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers
as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses,
has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as
Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending
Roses to help volunteers teach adults to read. Recently, the
group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization,
selected Lisa for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public
figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American