Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories by Liesa Swejkoski

Welcome back to Author Liesa Swejkoski.  I featured Liesa and her book last year but at the time she was using a pen name Virginia Elizabeth Farmer.

Liesa grew up in Wayne County, Michigan.  After highschool, she attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah majoring in Elementary Education.  She has been writing since the mid 1980s.  Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories is her first published book.  Lizzie, or Liesa as her friends call her, still maintains a home in Michigan.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Into the past, to the early 1970s, back to my grandparents’ farm in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. However, I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Ronald Reagan, Patrick Henry, Jesus, Barak Obama and Keanu Reeves. Don’t ask me why. I just think it would make for an exciting, thought provoking conversation!

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Solar powered cd player with cds, lifetime supply of sunblock and fresh water.

What is the last book you read?
“Orlean Puckett – The life of a Mountain Midwife” by Karen Cecil Smith.

If you were a superhero what would your name be?
Mother. That makes me a superhero. The only ones that come second are Dad or Grandma. All mothers should feel that way. That doesn’t mean they are entitled to special treatment. Look at old “Superman.” episodes. He isn’t always appreciated, right? I’d love for my family to treat me like royalty, but that isn’t going to happen. Mothers are altruistic; still this doesn’t mean we have to play the martyr card. We as mothers need to remind ourselves we are doing the best we can and that makes us ladies superheroes.

When you were 12 years old what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Chocolate. Mint chip comes in second.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I’d like to meet my great grandfather Sylvannus Bryson Parker of Jackson County, North Carolina. He was a doctor, licensed in at least three states in the Southeast, yet he never went to college. He learned natural healing and the use of herbs from the Cherokees. I was told that Henry Ford asked him to come up to Detroit to heal Edsel of the “Milk Sickness,” but travel being slow as it was in the early 20th century, “Van,” was just too late and Edsel died. He cured many a patient who had complications like pneumonia, after the great influenze epidemic in 1918. I’d love to meet Van and talk to him.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Sausage and blueberry wholegrain pancakes with real maple syrup. I make this every other morning. Also, I drink Simply Brand 100% grapefruit juice every morning.

What’s your favorite music genre? Favorite artist?
I could listen to music from the 1970s and 1980s all day. I also enjoy Josh Groban.

Is there anything you need in order to write? (ie Chocolate, quiet, music)
More time. I need more time, but life gets in the way.

Night owl, or early bird?
In “Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories,” I actually wrote about how I loved to sleep in as a child, so night owl by choice. However, I have to get up early for practical reasons. Now I am an early bird, like it or not.

One food you would never eat?
Preserved duck eggs. They are an Asian delicacy. Some people claim these eggs are 100 years old or more. No thank you!

If you could go back in time and meet one author, who would it be and why?
L. Frank Baum would be my choice. He did many things and had so many varied careers to keep his family in groceries and shoes !!! He struggled and thought he couldn’t make it as a writer, but he kept trying and he left us with several books and the beloved Wizard of Oz characters.

What was the first book you read?
I don’t know which one I remember actually reading, but I liked to look at the pictures in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” and feeling such heart thumping fear for Peter as my dad read to me. I was so scared that the farmer would kill the little rabbit. That is an early memory for me and I’ve loved the places that books have taken me since.

If you could be a paranormal creature , what would you choose to be?
The Manitou.

So, are you more paranormal or normal?
Oh, Honey, there is nothing normal about me. I’m closer to The Manitou than you think !

If you could re-write the ending to a book written by someone else, what would it be?
Other books are not my creation, not my brainchild so to even want to change them would be wrong, just wrong. Not everything ends up like we plan, or want it to be. Authors may create their own
worlds, but they cannot control another author’s realm.

If you could jump into any painting which one would it be?
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. I feel like I’d be back in Coast Guard City USA, Grand Haven, Michigan. I can’t always be there, so I think of this lovely, uniquely created painting.

Who is your favorite author?
Laura Ingalls Wilder, is my favorite writer, but some experts argue her daughter Rose edited so heavily that the books should actually have the name of Rose Wilder Lane as the author.
My other favorite authors are Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom.

Do you prefer to write on the computer or with paper?
Both actually. It all depends on where I am at the moment inspiration hits me.

What are your favorite comfort foods?
Southern cornbread and beans as well as sauerkraut. This has to do with my upbringing in a German-Hillbilly home.

What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?
I don’t watch them, I’d rather play them. I do watch basketball when my husband officiates. He’s a referee. Well, maybe horseracing since I would never ride a horse that fast. However, when I was fourteen I wanted to be a jockey…

How do you react to a bad review?
I’d try to learn from it, but really, you can’t please everyone!

Which actors would you want to play the main protagonists in your book?
If my book were made into a movie, I would choose Ryan Gosling to play the part of Uncle Ed, Dave Coulier in the part of Cecil, the mailman, Joan Allen as Barbara, Jan Broberg as Della, a Vanessa Hudgens type as Jenny and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the grandfather. If I couldn’t get Hoffman, I might choose Jeff Daniels in that part. Actually, I’d leave it up to the casting directors. They have their work cut out for them !!! I’d have Jennifer Breeden as costumer and Jan A. P. Kaczmarek would do the music.

What is your favorite book that has been made into a movie?
Gone with the Wind.

If not a writer, you would have been?
Out of work !!!!! Ha Ha, actually, I’d be somewhere in the education field or find work as a chef. I love to cook!

So, what do you do when you are in-between books?
I work at a nearby school or hang out on the beach in the Summer.

Where is your favorite place to read/write?
Some place quiet, like a library.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Read my book because life is about changes and taking turns and everyone needs to learn this fact.

What were your favorite books when you were a child?
When I was a child, my favorite books were anything written by Walter Farley or Marguerite Henry.

How would you describe the target audience for Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories?
The genre is similar to “Little House on the Prairie,” so it’s for young readers ages 8 -12. Additionally, it is for grandparents to reminisce and read to the children in their lives. It’s holiday oriented as the climax takes place around Thanksgiving.

What do you find so appealing about the genre you write for? Would you try writing for a different genre?
I want to give children the idea that they can do more than sit and watch tv or play videos all day. If they can read this book and see there is an adventure ahead, I want them to seize the day ! I really liked something I read in a Michigan State Park gift shop a few summers ago: “No child Left Inside.” That should be a theme in everyone’s lives. Get out; get back to really living!!!!!
I am also working on “A Freakshow Journal,” which is coming out next year. It’s for older readers, adults mainly. I hope it makes them think a little. The story doesn’t resort to violence or immorality because I don’t aim to shock my audience. I want to make them think about what true beauty is.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for “Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories” ?
“I Miss Mayberry,” by Rascal Flatts or “Take me Home, Country Roads,” pretty much set the mood.

What about your next book, “A Freakshow Journal,” that you just told us about?
“Tears of a Clown,” sung by Smokey Robinson or “Let the Sideshow Begin,” by Blue Magic.

What is your favorite quote?
“To everything there is a season.” That’s also the theme of “Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories.”

If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Fudge. I stop everything for fudge. Ha Ha.
(I’d never disclose my real kryptonite.)

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
I actually have signed novels. I want to sell them. I no longer collect these books and feel that there is someone out there who can appreciate them more than I do.
I once sold a signed copy of Bob Hope’s “Don’t Shoot! It’s only Me!”
That being said, if I had a first edition of Gone with the Wind signed by Margaret Mitchell, I might hold onto that. Then again, I might not.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
I’d invest wisely or buy gold and sterling silver. Maybe I’d buy a house with a bubbling spring and good, fertile land. After all, when all else fails, you need to have fresh water and food.

What do you do in your free time?

What is your guilty pleasure?
Can’t tell you…..

What TV show do you watch that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
I watch reruns of Soap on Netflix, otherwise I have no time for television.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I put the news on my facebook fan page. I’m not much of a partier.

Some copies of that book show the author as Virginia Elisabeth Farmer. Why is that?
I value my privacy, so I’ve been using a pseudonym . Also, since I was writing about adventures
on my grandfather’s farm in Virginia I chose to use his last name, Farmer. Recently
an editor encouraged me to use my married name. This is a big step that I am taking and I’m a
little reticent, but at least now I feel like I can be more honest with my fans. I didn’t like the dual life.
So, any books printed after November 2011 with feature my real name, Liesa Swejkoski.

How do you pronounce that?
_ _
Swi-kos-ke. The ‘e’ and ‘j’ have a long ‘i’ sound.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
The Manitou. (I adapt.)
Readers of my life story would find out so much about me. I might look like a quiet, mousey type, but I live life to the fullest. I’ve experienced sadness and challenges, also.
People should know that recently I survived a train collision outside Reno, Nevada. Some members of my family were just inches away from death. In the days following the accident I just wanted to crawl into a corner or huddle in a closet and cry, but I had to keep going for my family!
Was anyone killed in that accident?
Yes, six people including the truck driver who ran into the train we were on. Four of those people, right in front of us. Also, a man who was aiding passengers later died from injuries he sustained during the rescue.

What’s one thing that you’re proud of that some people might not know about you?
I’m a Wii ski champion. My score on the beginner slalom is 18:46 and for the ski jump I am at 390. I’m very competitive when it comes to Wii ski.

Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories

Lizzie’s father finds himself out of work during the General Motors Strike in 1970. He packs up his family and takes them to his mother’s farm in Virginia where the city girls are in for an adventure.

They meet country neighbors, learn how to milk cows, fish with a cane pole and feed the chickens.

Lizzie learns about death but encounters many joyful experiences along the way as she meets extended family members.

Giveaway Details
3 Winners will each receive a copy of Lizzie’s Blue Ridge Memories.
Open to US only
Ends 1/9/12

Rebecca S.
Chris B.