Lea Wait

Lea Wait lives on the coast of Maine, where she writes both historical novels for eight- to fourteen-year-olds and mysteries for adult readers. She is the author of five acclaimed YA historical novels set in 19th century Maine. Lea grew up in Maine and New Jersey, graduated from Chatham College, earned graduate degrees from New York University, and worked for AT&T while she was raising the four daughters she adopted as a single parent. She is now the grandmother of eight and is married to artist Bob Thomas.


Different Strokes


Today author Lea Wait is stopping by LitPick to tell us why books make good gifts and her favorite books when she was a child. She caps off her visit by telling us about some of her books.

What makes books a great gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays or any time?

Books chosen carefully reflect both the giver and the receiver. They rarely wear out, they can be read over and over, and in the best of circumstances, they become a part of the reader. They’re messages from the giver that say, “I know you. I know what kinds of books you’ll love. This story was special to me, and I hope it will be to you.” Books are lasting messages of love.

As a child I owned very few books, but I still treasure the memories of those my grandmother chose for me at the library. Sometimes we talked about them together; sometimes not. But whenever I think about those books, she comes back to me. I cherish those moments.

What was your favorite book as a child?

For years my favorite book was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. (I read every book in her Orchard House series, but Little Women was always my favorite.) I can still recite parts of it. Of course, Jo was my favorite character, because she was a writer. And then in Little Men and Jos Boys, she and her husband take boys from the streets into their boarding school. I realized, years later, that the choices for my own life reflected Jo’s: I adopted four orphaned older girls, and became a writer. Books have lasting influences!

Tell us about your books and why they would make great gifts.

My nineteenth century historical novels for young people aged 8-14 are all set (at least partially) in the small village of Wiscasset, Maine in different years, and all feature people who really lived there. In each book one or more young person (ages 11-15) is faced with a major change in their life, and must make decisions about what they will do, where they will live, and who they will live with. Making everyday life from the past come alive makes history relevant! 

Stopping to Home: In 1806 Abbie and Seth’s mother has died, their father has been at sea for months. They find a new home working for a young widow … and then the three of them must find a way to support themselves. http://amzn.to/1GttJKu

Seaward Born:  Michael, a slave in South Carolina, is learning the ways of the sea in Charleston Harbor. But after his mistress dies, he must choose between trying to escape and being sold to the Alabama territory. An adventure story, showing that even under slavery, there were choices. (Michael, who chooses the new name Noah, meets Abbie and Seth when he reaches Maine.) http://amzn.to/1MP79bN

Wintering Well: Will is injured in a farm accident, loses his leg, but refuses to lose his future. Each chapter begins with a journal entry from his younger sister, Cassie, and then goes on to tell Will’s story. Set in 1819-1820, against a background of statehood for Maine. http://amzn.to/1kIeof1

Finest Kind: Jake’s wealthy family loses almost everything in the Panic of 1837. Everything, that is, except their family secret. Moving to Maine from Boston means Jake must learn to forage for food, protect his mother and their secret, and get a job in a local jail. Not all his new neighbors take kindly to the family from Boston, and his new friend, Nabby, is also protecting a family secret. But Jake’s a survivor, and finds out not everything can be learned from the books he loves.   http://amzn.to/1MP85g7

Uncertain Glory: The first two weeks of the Civil War present major challenges for Joe and his friend Charlie (who really did publish their town’s newspaper then), Owen, their young African-American apprentice, and Nell, a visiting girl spiritualist. How different people in a small northern town reacted to the news from Fort Sumter. http://amzn.to/1LRXxx0

For more information about Lea Wait and her books, see her website, www.leawait.com,

Her e-published short story, The Charleston Hurricane of 1804, is a prequel to “Seaward Born. http://amzn.to/1LS0gX9  Lea also writes two mystery series for adults, and the nonfiction, “Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine.  http://amzn.to/1kIhKi3

Lea, thank you for taking the time to tell us about books as gifts, your favorite books, and a little about your books. LitPick appreciates all you have done with us this year. Happy holidays to you and your family! We look forward to visiting with you again in 2016.



Joining LitPick today for Six Minutes with an Author is Lea Wait! Lea is a fourth generation antique dealer who deals in antique prints. When Lea was a college junior, she wrote a poem that won first prize in a national competition for college students and had her poem published in Story: The Yearbook of Discovery - 1968. In 2005, she discovered her poem “Ellie: An Inventory of Being” had been used for creative writing classes throughout the world for years.

More recently, Lea is the author of five novels for ages 8-14, all set in Wiscasset, Maine which includes Stopping to Home and Uncertain Glory. Lea is the author of two mystery series for adults, the Antique Print Mystery Series and the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series. Lea’s writing includes nonfiction books as well such as the recently published Living & Writing on the Coast of Maine where you go inside life with Lea and her husband for a year.

How did you get started writing?

I’ve written all my life! I was the editor of my high school newspaper, wrote plays and poetry while in college, and then was hired as a corporate speech writer. I finally turned to fiction when I was in my 40s, and in 1998 left corporate life and started writing full-time.  My first book was STOPPING TO HOME … a book for ages 8 – 12. (I now write books for both children and adults.)

Who influenced you?

Some teachers, of course. But my biggest influences were my grandmother, who attended college in her seventies and was the first person to take me to a library and introduce me to “grown-up” books … and the books I read. From Louisa May Alcott to Emily Dickinson, to Katherine Paterson to Cynthia Voigt to Patricia MacLachlan to (my friend) Cynthia Lord … I’ve always loved excellent writing that took me to different places and times, and introduced me to people I’d never met. I especially love excellent writing for children. 

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

I’m particularly drawn to the nineteenth century United States; to periods in which children were important, contributing, parts of families from very early ages. My books center around the quest for family, whether biological or extended, and the importance of place. My special place is the coast of Maine, and many of my books are set there.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

Read. Read everything, from cereal boxes to computer manuals to newspapers to comic strips to, of course, books. And every time you read something ask yourself, “What did I like about this writing? What didn’t I like?” Learning to critique writing will teach you to be more aware of words and paragraphs and stories and how they work together. And learning that will help you to improve your own writing. (And editing!)

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’m lucky now to have a special room to write where I’m surrounded by windows looking out at a river and our yard, bookcases holding reference books, and file cabinets full of notes and ideas. But I still like to print out my books and edit them while sitting on a lounge chair on our porch, or propped up by pillows on my bed. I take notes and plan my books with a pen or pencil, but I do all my writing on a computer.

What else would you like to tell us?

My historical novels are all set in one town in Maine because I’m fascinated by place. Mountains, rocks, rivers and oceans don’t often change. Trees often live longer than one or two generations. I’ve chosen to show how different people lived in one town in different years. I also love using real people in my books … most of my characters really walked the streets of Wiscasset, Maine. By writing about real, ordinary, men and women and boys and girls who lived 150 or more years ago, I better understand, and I hope my readers better understand, how people’s dreams and goals and challenges don’t change, even if the worlds they live in do.   

Lea, thank you very much for joining LitPick for six minutes! Your writing offers something for everyone with historical fiction for younger readers and mysteries for their parents.  Your website includes some yummy sounding recipes, too!



Lea Wait