If you haven’t picked up a copy of Susan Wigg’s The Lost and Found Bookshop yet, it needs to be the next book on your must read list. The novel is the New York Times Bestselling Author’s most recent novel released in July of this year and centers around Natalie Harper after building a calm and predictable life for herself, finds herself in charge of running her mother’s vintage bookstore and looking after her grandfather, Andrew.
In this interview, Susan shares about how came up with the storyline for the novel (including a few of the bookstores that inspired Natalie’s bookshop), who she imagines would play the main characters if the book was turned into feature film and a sneak peek into her next novel!
Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worrying about.
In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.
But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.
After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.
To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.
I have such wonderful childhood memories of visiting bookshops. When did you first get the idea for The Lost and Found Bookshop storyline?
Owning a bookshop is a fond fantasy of mine. There’s a special satisfaction I get in recommending the right book to the right person at the right time. Almost every reader I know feels a personal connection to a particular bookstore—usually, as you mentioned, to a shop that lives in our fondest memories of childhood.
Since my books are all about emotion and connection, I wanted to illuminate my story in a special place.
You lived in Paris as a child and you visited Shakespeare and Co on the Left Bank that was part of the inspiration for the bookstore in The Lost and Found Bookshop. How much research went into creating the bookstore in the novel and what did you enjoy most about creating your dream bookstore for your characters to inhabit?
I had the best time putting my fictional bookshop together, using all my favorite bits and pieces of my favorite stores all over the world—from Shakespeare & Co (all those pokey, inviting nooks) to my local indie with its big cushy chairs and friendly coffee bar.
I visited many, many bookstores during the writing of the book, from the Vero Beach Book Company and Story & Song in Florida to Eagle Harbor Books and Liberty Bay Books in my home state of Washington—and many in between. Booksellers are generous and eager to share their world, and I had no trouble getting them to take me through a day in the life.
Do any of the characters have characteristics of people you’ve met in real life?
Absolutely! Natalie’s emotional life mirrors my own at various times in my life. I based Peach on a guy who can fix anything and everything in an old building. Grandy is like a male version of my mom. Dorothy is a combination of the little kid I was, plus dashes of my daughter and granddaughter. I love the interplay between the people in the story—even the walk-ons, the customers who come to browse in the shop.
What is your typical writing day like?
Ah, I wish I had a typical writing day. At various times in my career, I did have that, but currently I’m the caregiver for my elderly mom, so sometimes it’s a three-ring circus of therapist, nurse, EMT, volunteer, you name it. So nowadays, I try to get my writing done at O-dark-thirty, really. I write my first draft in longhand, so I can drag my manuscript all over with me. Drafting, and then revising and refining that piece is what I consider the “heavy lifting,” so I try to accomplish that first thing in the morning when I’m fresh. All the “businessy” stuff—meetings, promotion, planning, etc. fits around the rest of the day.
One of the most important things I do as a writer is read. I’m always reading a book or two, and I read myself to sleep each night.
If you could meet any of the characters from The Lost and Found Bookshop in real life, who would it be?
Okay, I’m shameless. I want to hang out with Trevor. He’s so complicated and damaged and talented and so bloody rich that he would be fascinating. Plus he has that boat. I loved writing the scene where he takes her boating around San Francisco Bay.
If The Lost and Found Bookshop were to be turned into a feature film, who do you imagine playing the main characters?
I love this question! What a fantasy! I can picture Natalie, Peach, Grandy, Trevor, and the whole cast perfectly in my head. Judging by feedback from readers, they can, too.
But here’s something I believe. Every reader reads a different book. Once it’s published, it’s not “my” book anymore. It belongs to all the readers who bring their own creative minds to the process. So if I say I’d love to see Anna Kendrick as Natalie, another reader might see her as Emma Watson, and someone else might picture Zoey Deschanel…It’s a dilemma, and I don’t want to mess with anyone’s fantasy.
That said, Peach is the “Hammer for Hire” and I can show you his business card here (I actually designed it for a friend of mine, who inspired Peach). Adam Driver, maybe? He served in the Marines, and so did Peach.
The other love interest, Trevor, might be any of the Hemsworth brothers, if you ask me.
Do you think The Lost and Found Bookshop will be turned into a feature film at some point?
We need to ask my film agent! She’s Lucy Stille of Lucy Stille Literary, and she reps books-to-film deals.
I often get a lot of interest from TV and streaming producers, but so far, nothing has made it all the way to the screen. This novel would be totally charming, I think—a glorious 19th-century building on a historic street in San Francisco, secrets hidden in the walls, a priceless treasure that may or may not be the key to the family mystery….
Really, what’s not to like?
Out of all of the novels and series you’ve written, was there one book in particular that is a personal favorite (or) a favorite character that you’ve written about?
My personal fave is always the next book. The one I haven’t ruined yet by writing it! I think maybe Daisy Bellamy is my favorite character. She’s been with me since she was a teenager, through several of the Lakeshore Chronicle books, and her own love story—Marrying Daisy Bellamy—debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
During the pandemic what have been some of your favorite books that you’ve read that have provided a bit of an escape?
I’ve always got a book going, and I’m reading more than ever in the pandemic. I try to post my favorites on my BookBub page here: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susan-wiggs Some recent standouts include The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson, The Color of Water by Gail Tsukiyama, and The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz.
Can we get a sneak peek into the novel that you are currently working on.
Readers of The Lost and Found Bookshop might recall the bakery called across the street where Natalie gets the baked goods for her coffee bar. When a woman with a troubled past—a very VERY troubled, I-might-have-murdered-someone past–opens a barbecue restaurant next door, the result is Sugar and Salt. That’s the working title and I hope it sticks.