Interview with Ursula Wong

So how Purple Trees come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.
I think fiction is about taking a fact or an event, and giving it life. Originally, Purple Trees was about a loss in a family. I wanted to emphasize the loss by adding anger. Then I needed a reason for the anger, and so on. Eventually, it became a story about Lily Phelps, a woman with a tumultuous past that affected her relationship with her son.
Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?
Writing is like making lasagna. It gets better if you let it marinate a while. I wrote the first draft of Purple Trees in a few weeks. It took a year to evolve and finalize the story.
What do you feel is the main theme(s)?
Ultimately, Purple Trees is about salvation and love. It’s also about family, coping with tragedy in unique ways, and it’s about secrets.
Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?
I hope the story resounds in different ways for different people as it touches many things in family life such as turmoil, illness, and hard-nosed tragedy affecting children.

The story takes place on a Massachusetts dairy farm. Dairy was a thriving industry in the 1960s and now there are very few dairy farms left. I wanted to remember what it was like growing up on a farm, and I wanted others to know about it, too.
Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?
Anyone familiar with Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, or Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, or Carolyn Chute’s The Beans of Egypt, Maine will be on familiar ground when reading Purple Trees.
Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?
It’s great when a story has a theme that resonates with readers but a book audience is largely anonymous. I think the best we can do as writers is to be true to our characters, and write from the heart.
Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
I’m a retired computer engineer, so my goal was to become a professional writer, and that happened when I sold my first copy of Purple Trees.

I’d like to publish Amber Wolf, my next novel, in 2014. It’s a story about anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania during WW II.

My daughter is going to college in California and my husband and I want to become familiar with the Los Angeles area over the next few years. So far, we adore the beaches, but hate the traffic.
Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?
I have an outstanding publisher (Genretaruim Publishing) who did an excellent job copyediting and raising content questions up to the very last draft. Content questions are those lingering issues that a writer should explore fully in a novel.

Because Purple Trees was my first novel, I hired an editor to review my first draft to make sure it made sense, had a good story arc, and had believable characters; namely a good foundation.

After that, I relied heavily on workshops.
What's the next step in your writing world?
Publishing Amber Wolf is my next project. Given current events in Eastern Europe, the story is eerily relevant. My goal is to bring Soviet resistance in 1944 Lithuania, to life. Who was in the resistance? Where did they live? How did they get weapons? How do I represent a country in turmoil?

I’m also incorporating some Lithuanian culture with foods, phrases, and traditions, like saying a prayer to good health under a crescent of the moon.
Any other information you’d like to impart?
If anyone would like to join my Reaching Readers group to receive a super-short story every month for entertainment and fun, feel free to send an email to me at urslwng@gmail.com or contact me via my website at http://ursulawong.wordpress.com.
Published 2014-05-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Amber Widow
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,820. Language: English. Published: October 23, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Historical, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
In the war between ruthless leaders and terrorists, how do you chose a side? In Book Three of the Amber War series, the long-simmering enmity with Russia comes to an explosive head as the Lithuanian radicals engage in a vicious game of chess that would sacrifice some for the freedom of others.
Amber War
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,080. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure, Fiction » Historical » General
Where do you turn when you can trust no one? In Book Two of the Amber War series, resistance fighter Ludmelia Kudirka faces treachery as she works with Polish partisans to get a man through the Iron Curtain in a last-ditch effort to gain help from the West and keep the fight for freedom alive.
Amber Wolf
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,660. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure, Fiction » Historical » General
How do you fight an unbeatable enemy? In Book One of the Amber War series, the farmers and office workers in Lithuania exchange their pitchforks and pencils for stolen weapons to fight the largest military force in the world: Stalin's Red Army.
Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,540. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Horror, Fiction » Horror » General
Reality slides into madness again in these eleven tales from some of New England’s finest storytellers. Feel your heartbeat quicken as your senses drift to dark places: the howls of horror, terrifying visions, a hint of mystery in the air, and the bitter taste of death. You may never sleep with the lights off again.
Insanity Tales
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 42,050. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Horror
An anthology of eight dark and scary short stories and one novella from New England authors David Daniel, Stacey Longo, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad V., and Ursula Wong. Here you will find twisted psyches, peculiar people, and demons of the mind and spirit. Come in, enjoy the trip, but step carefully, and watch the shadows, for you may never be the same again.
Purple Trees
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,800. Language: English. Published: April 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas
(5.00 from 1 review)
Lonely Lily Phelps is orphaned and in debt at seventeen. Her dark, hidden past causes her to see ghosts. This scared, naïve girl must grow up fast if she is to find work, happiness, and build a future, but the weight of the past threatens everything she loves. Because of her terrible secret, Lily must protect her family from the worst danger of all – herself.