When did you become a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but was not serious about it until 2006. I sang professionally for thirty-five years. My main means of creative expression was through song. About five years ago, I contracted Post-Polio Syndrome, a late-life extension of the polio I had as a child. The increased weakness and fatigue put an end to my singing career. God led me in the direction of writing. One voice led to another, so to speak. Writing is now my means of creative expression, but music will always be an integral part of me and was instrumental in my decision to infuse my main character with the desire to sing on the stage.
Tell us a bit about your book Crestmont.
Crestmont is a historical fiction novel that takes a peek into the lives and loves of the staff at a bustling summer inn in the 1920s.
“A dream, after all, needn’t be fueled by particulars, only by desire.”
So notes main character, Gracie Antes, who is determined to take control of her life. Gracie leaves her unhappy home in 1925 to pursue her dream of a singing career. On her way to the big city, she accepts a job as a housemaid at the bustling Crestmont Inn. Once there, Gracie finds a life-changing encounter with opera singer Rosa Ponselle, family she never imagined could be hers, and a man with a mysterious past. Relive the 1920s with a colorful cast of characters. Discover with Gracie that sometimes we must trade loss for happiness.
Set in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, the story is interwoven with details about the town, the rich history of The Crestmont Inn, and the family who passed ownership from one generation to the next. Many attempts have been made to explain how the mountaintop lake nestled in this tiny town came to be. Crestmont gives a new twist to an old Native American legend, setting the tone of grace around which the story is built.
How did you research for this book?
After a one-night stay at the Crestmont Inn in 2006, I knew I wanted to write a book about it. Our accommodation was converted into a modern B & B from a staff dormitory built in 1926. My interest was perked about what life might have been life during the 1920s for the staff working at this inn. I made eight trips to Eagles Mere over a four-year period, interviewing former staff and those whose relatives had worked at the inn during the 1920s. I found floor plans of the original Crestmont, a 1927 Sears Catalogue revealing everyday items people would have used at that time and old photographs. The current owners of the inn shared difficulties and anecdotes of running a busy inn. I researched prohibition, which was an important issue from the time period. The Crestmont Inn ran tennis tournaments, second only to those at Forest Hills, the forerunner to the U.S. Open, so I researched the making of red clay tennis courts, which were state of the art at the time.
Who is your favorite character from the book and why?
Creating characters for Crestmont was hands down, the most interesting and enjoyable part of the writing, so this may sound odd, but my favorite character is not a person, but the inn itself.
I wrote the hotel as a central character in Crestmont—a caretaker and an agent of grace. The inn functions as a refuge for many characters in Crestmont and has been a comfort in my own life. Gracie and PT, two main characters, lost ties to their biological families, but find a sense of family and security amongst the other staff.
Foresight and attention to the needs of guests who walk through the Crestmont Inn’s doors are hallmarks of its innkeepers. Generations of families have flocked to the inn year after year. William Warner, the genesis of the inn, longed to provide respite for those pummeled by the stresses of everyday life. He saw a cyclone-devastated hill in 1899 and grasped the opportunity to build a huge Victorian inn with a commitment to serve the needs of its guests.
Finally, the Crestmont Inn is a survivor. The “big house” that Warner originally built, had to be torn down in 1981, but the Crestmont still exists in a different form. The laundry house was converted to a gorgeous dining room and reception hall. Luxury suites evolved from a hot, cramped dormitory. What clinched the concept of the book for me was the story about the Mennonites purchasing the wood from the old Crestmont, hacking it off the building and loading it onto their trucks to build barns and so forth. I saw the “big house” living on in different forms. The image brought tears to my eyes when I heard it and when I wrote the scene in the epilogue.
You've written a readers guide for the book. Do you think this helps with sales?
Many people advised me that a reader’s guide was important, but it is difficult to measure the impact on sales, because anyone can download it from my website without my knowledge.
Who is your publisher and would you recommend them to other writers?
I chose a small, independent publisher, Star Publish LLC. Star offered me a complete package of editing, formatting, and marketing. They promised me a release date of May 2010 and they stuck to their timetable. As a result, I was able to take advantage of the summer tourist season in Eagles Mere to promote Crestmont. Star honors the author’s decisions and works closely with them, offering personalized, quality services. I highly recommend Star Publish LLC to other authors.
Where can people find out more about you and your work?
You may find reviews, my bio and “The Story Behind Crestmont” on my website, http://www.hollyweiss.com.
I also review newly-released books. You may find my reviews at Ezine http://bit.ly/arjEH4
I invite you to join me at iFOGO where readers and writers can interact for updates on Crestmont. http://bit.ly/d5DgBg
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed with Writers and Authors!
My website is http://www.hollyweiss.com. Autographed copies with free shipping are available there. Look on the contacts/links page for my email link. I love to hear from my readers.
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Purchase link http://amzn.to/9WZyxI