By Deena Adams
Help me welcome Alyssa Schwarz to the blog this week. Alyssa is a fellow ACFW member and her debut novel, The Glass Cottage, releases on October 5. She’s graciously offered a copy to one person who comments on this interview.
Welcome to the blog Alyssa! Share a little about yourself and your family.
I’m an only child, but I grew up surrounded by cousins. During the summers, my family and I would drive up to Buena Vista where they lived and stay a week or two on the ranch. We had a blast exploring the hills, chasing down new rocks to climb, and roasting marshmallows over the fire pit for s’mores. I think it’s only natural I thought to write a series about a family of cousins and set my first book within that quaint mountain town.
Sounds like a wonderful childhood. Do you have hobbies you enjoy? What do you do for fun?
My mom and I have our own art business. We are both watercolor artists and have been privileged to showcase some of our artwork through the Denver Metro area. I also love to hike and have recently taken up gardening. Two years ago, I saw the most beautiful dahlias in Washington’s San Juan Islands, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. After digging up a half-a-ton of soil, engineering a raised flower bed, and planting two dozen bulbs, I finally have my dahlia garden!
Good for you! I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life. Tell us how and when you started writing.
Does random scribbling as a toddler count? I’ve always loved books and the idea of writing, but my first real attempt at penning a story had to have been in second grade when I wrote about a dog who could fly. I did the illustrations for it and everything!
A flying dog would make a great children’s book! I’m curious what your writing space looks like.
Piles of craft books and notebooks on the desk, dual monitors to keep track of the dozens of open tabs, handwritten notes and reference images spilling from their folders, my dog Nala lying next to me with her head on my foot, and a cup of chai tea at the ready.
Some necessities along with extra special touches. Perfect. How many unpublished and unfinished manuscripts do you have?
The Glass Cottage will be my debut novel, but I am busy working on book two in the series. I plan to release a Valentine’s Day-themed novella early next year as a prequel to the series. I also have an unfinished WW1 manuscript collecting dust on my computer’s hard drive that I’ve yet to decide what to do with. One of these days I might get around to finishing it, but for now, I’m sticking to contemporary fiction.
Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history?
While my stories are purely fictional, I love finding inspiration for ideas through history. Colorado has a fascinating past, from abandoned gold mines, to land feuds, and strange traditions.
While researching for The Glass Cottage, I learned Buena Vista was known for its lettuce fields, and in 1891, two men stole a house log by log near Rocky Ford and reassembled it fourteen miles away. Maybe not the most helpful of information, that’s part of the fun in learning about a place’s history. You never know what you may find, and the stories might just surprise you enough to find their way into a book.
Since my family is from Colorado, there are lots of interesting stories to be found tucked away in my grandma’s attic. After stumbling upon her journals, I thought it would be fun to write a story based on an old forgotten diary.
I love that! What did God teach you through the writing of The Glass Cottage?
God has been teaching me a lot about what it means to listen to and follow His guidance, and the many ways in which He speaks to us at different times in our lives. Our paths rarely turn out the way we expect, but maybe that is a good thing. How else would we discover the wonderful things He has planned for us if we were only limited by our own imagination. God is the ultimate story writer, and I hope readers of The Glass Cottage will be able to sympathize with Abigail’s and Ben’s story of redemption and second-chances.
What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
When the world seems to pull at us from all directions, leaving us questioning and worried about the future, I hope readers can escape into this story and learn what it means to trust God, even with the unknowns.
Great takeaway. Which character in The Glass Cottage was easiest for you to write and why? Which character presented the biggest challenge?
Abigail holds a dear spot in my heart, and I think we would get along quite well as friends if she existed in real life. We both love baking and kayaking.
The hardest character to nail down was Abigail’s cousin, Tess, a minor character at the beginning and end of this story. Her personality is very unlike mine, so it was a challenge getting into her head in such a short space. But despite that challenge, I learned to really love the spunky cousin. If you are curious to learn more about Tess, look for her in book #2 of the Prescott Family Romances series.
Gotta love characters who bake and kayak. Who is your favorite fiction author? Favorite novel?
There are so many outstanding authors out there. I love anything written by Becky Wade, Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, or Roseanna M. White. I can always count on their books to be amazing. As for my favorite novel, a lot of people might not know this book, but The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans, is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve probably read it at least three times!
I’ll have to look into The Sunflower! How can your readers and fans support you?
Buy a copy of my book, leave a comment on Amazon or Goodreads, and sign up for my newsletter at https://www.authoralyssaschwarz.com/
Any last words for your readers?
My grandma used to say: “Don’t let the fear of hard work stop you from trying.” Go for it. You’ll never know if it’s possible until you try.
Thanks so much for the interview, Alyssa! It’s been great getting to know you and more about your writing. Congratulations on your debut release!
Join the conversation. Have you ever visited Colorado? Does a Contemporary Romance set in a small mountain town sound good to you? Do you have any questions for Alyssa?
Be sure to comment by October 5 for a chance to win a copy of her book!
The Glass Cottage by Alyssa Schwarz
Could a nineteenth-century diary be the answer to Abigail’s prayers?
Iris wanted nothing more than to live her own adventure. But on the tails of the Colorado gold rush, a certain discovery could upend her world before it’s even begun.
Over a hundred years later, Abigail Prescott returns to the sleepy mountain town she once called home to help her great Aunt Josie restore the old antique shop, The Glass Cottage. Looking for peace and God’s direction for her life, the last thing she expected to encounter was a ghost from her past—Benjamin Greene—her childhood best friend. The boy who got away.
Is this just a coincidence, or could it be the start of something greater?
Together, Ben and Abigail work to fix up the shop and stumble upon an old journal. With more questions than answers, Abigail embarks on a journey of self-discovery to track down the mysterious Iris, but the truth is not always what it seems.
In this tale of friendship, love lost, and love found, Abigail must decide for herself: Is every story worth saving, and if so, at what cost?
Alyssa Schwarz loves a good story, especially if it has a happy ending! From mountain adventures to Downton Abbey-esque romances, she firmly believes we could all use a little more inspirational and heart-warming tales to keep us up at night—tales that take us on far away (or not so distant) adventures and speak words of life and truth into our lives.
Though Alyssa writes mainly contemporary fiction, she tries to find fun ways to incorporate the past. Whether it’s a family secret, or a century-old journal, history has a way of shaping the lives of her characters for better of for worse. If any of these story ideas sound like your cup of tea, then pull up a chair, take a sip of your favorite drink, and find your next happily-ever-after.
Please share Alyssa’s interview on social media to help spread the word about her debut novel!
If you missed last week’s Zoom interview with John Matthew Walker, find it here.