An interview with author Lillian Corrigan.
Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
Although a newly published author, I’ve been writing my whole life. Journaling has helped me find clarity and understanding through many of life’s challenges. Knowing its value, I hope to use my writing to inspire others in gaining new perspective, deeper faith, greater hope, and better confidence, especially during difficult times.
I enjoy nature and being outdoors. My family, including my dogs, is my greatest treasure. I like simple things like gardens, animals, sunshine, warm breezes, not to mention pizza and ice cream.
Escaping into new worlds, I find reading both exciting and relaxing. Storytelling, especially by the older generation, fascinates me. I also adore old architecture. Visiting antiquated buildings with original stonework, carved wood, and blurry glass, leaves me wide-eyed.
What got you into writing?
One day, someone said, "You should write a book; you already have the story in those wonderful letters you've written about 'this.'" Initially I shrugged it off, but the seed was planted. That seed sprouted and grew until one day, I grabbed a keyboard and started to type about recent events. At first, it was just more journaling. The exercise helped me understand everything better. Eventually I saw a new perspective. I learned that there is both positive and negative in every experience. Perception is key. I started to value the lessons in the challenges I had faced. After discovering the hidden treasure under the mud and muck, I told others about it and realized that people related to what I'd been through and to what I was saying. A new goal surfaced: I would use my writing to encourage and offer hope to others in similar circumstances. The book became a passion. I cultivated it, studied, took classes and worked until it shined. My husband will be thrilled when I start cooking, cleaning, and helping to cut and stack the woodpile again! Still immersed in my dream, I tweaked, exaggerated, modified, counseled, and in the end, this novel was born. My greatest hope is that principals contained in this story do indeed affect, touch, and especially inspire, those who need it the most.
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
Celebrating one of my greatest heroes inspired this novel. I wanted to capture his essence and philosophies and share them. So, in thinking about his life, I took key elements to create a part-true story that would affect others positively.
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
Oh, that is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. Mitch, my hero, is of course a favorite. He is a brazen old handman, confident and fully human. Mandy, who some may call the ghost, is also a special person with a unique role. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the handsome big-kid, Ti? I’ve also got pet characters. Champ and his famous appetite has to be my favorite four-legged personality.
I love that my characters are real. They are strong and weak, smart yet goofy, sometimes awkward and unsure, and make mistakes. But they stick together, pray together, and love together through it all.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
I have many favorite scenes, but several I don’t want to spoil. So, one I’m willing to elaborate on is when Mitch raises his glass to toast his son. He jokes about praying to the “wrong” saint, deciphering the reason he came to own so many animals. An engaged audience chuckles. Readers can then feel the silence after Mitch clears his throat to continue. “Royal castles are built from bricks; majestic mansions are constructed with sticks. Everyday moments build a lifetime of love, friendship and cherished memories.” The toast explains the title and many themes conveyed up to this point come together in a fabulous a-hah moment.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
Using analogies that enhance a description.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
It takes years for me since I work another job. My process is to start with an idea-dump, then begin to organize, strategize, edit and enhance the parts that add the most value.
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
I’ve always enjoyed attending and facilitating retreats. Helping others who have doubts, insecurities, or confusion about something they are going through is truly an honor. I hope that my writing will carry that forward. I’m also a fan of every Hallmark movie ever made. So sappy stories clearly work for my taste.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
Absolutely, Mitch Albom and C.S. Lewis.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
Yup. It’s particularly gratifying after struggling with a concept or a part of the story that just isn’t working perfectly, and then, suddenly, an inspiration occurs. Unexpectedly, it turns into one of your favorite scenes.
For example: the title took a long time, several surveys that probably annoyed my friends, and weeks if not months of prayer. But when it finally came to me one morning, it was a perfect fit for my hero's life and philosophy.
What are some of your mantras?
Learn forever. Grow from challenge. Don’t stop believing in yourself. Keep the faith. Love lasts.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write often; carry a notebook and never miss an opportunity to capture a creative thought. Talk to other writers; bounce ideas off them. Ask friends how a difficult passage sounds. Don’t be shy about getting input or flat out asking for help when you need it.
Thanks for stopping by!
A survivor in more ways than one, newly published author Lillian Corrigan uses writing to cope and to hope. She dreams of inspiring others to find the light within life’s many challenges.
Born in New York Lillian’s family moved to the New Jersey suburbs before she could walk or talk. As a young person, she was quiet and studious. During summer months, she led her sisters in games of “school,” aspiring to become a teacher. Young Lillian enjoyed ice-skating, bike riding, swimming, calligraphy, as well as building and creating things—whether out of Legos, food ingredients, or scraps, she experimented, formulating new results each time.
Lillian graduated at the top of her class from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She obtained her MBA from Rider University. Her career has included segments working in industry, teaching and management.
Reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis in middle school ignited her first love of literature. She enjoys reading, especially inspirational fiction, as well as writing. Lillian has used journaling as a means to learn, understand situations more deeply, and grow from difficult experience ever since she can remember. She finds storytelling, especially by the older generation, fascinating. Also fond of antiques, old furniture, historic buildings, and even ancient ruins, intrigue her.
Lillian enjoys facilitating retreats. She has conducted workshops on a variety of topics from how to utilize software applications to make tasks more efficient and effective, to finding strength and goodness in the face of adversity and hardship. Her favorite places are in the mountains. Things that inspire her include special people, puppies, flowers, and the small miracles found through and with others every day.
Lillian’s aspirations include more writing: books, editorials, and self-help articles, as well as offering coaching and formatting services for other authors wishing to self-publish.