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Confessions of a Night Owl on a Book Tour - Published in San Francisco Book Review

July 7, 2015

Author Lucy Sanna confesses to what many writers keep secret in her latest column for San Francisco Book Review's "The Back Page."

Here I am, packing again. Iím out of clean undies. Do I have time to do laundry orÖ is Macyís still open?

Itís called a book tour. A good problem to have.

What every writer wishes for is an audience. We dream about it as we slink to our writing spaces in the dark of night with our coffee or wine or whatever kind of smoke suits our fancy, our backs to dirty dishes and bills and clogged drains. We night owls go to bed just before dawn, and bleary eyed at the cafť in the morning, we expose our crazy night writing to the glare of day and wonder where it came from, and we havenít bathed and our hair is frightening and we don't expect to see anyone we know, and when someone says hello we blink and wonder for a moment because weíre not in that world right now. The people staring, thatís not the audience Iím talking about.

What every writer wishes for are readers. So we write something that people want to read and we go on a book tour. So many writers are introverts or intellectuals or just want to get on with the next project and avoid the promotional side of things. I know those people. But for me, the book tour is about the joy of meeting my readers, whether in person or through the media.

As a science writer, Iím nuts about research. I love history. And I love stories. Put it all together and you get an historical novel. THE CHERRY HARVEST was so fun to write.

When I learned that German POWs were housed in Door County, Wisconsin, during WWII, and that they picked cherries in family orchards, I immediately saw the opportunity for conflict. The war is raging overseas when my protagonist, 37-year-old Charlotte, persuades the county to release prisoners to work on the family cherry orchard. I give her a son fighting the Nazis in Europe, and a pretty daughter who will certainly come in contact with the prisoners on the orchard. And thatís just the beginning. In bringing POWs to work the family orchard, Charlotte brings the war home.

Really? Yes! I enjoy sharing information about why German POWs were brought to this country during WWII, where they were housed, how citizens reacted. And why we didnít read about this in our seventh grade history books. To get the real story, I interviewed people who interacted with WWII German POWs when they were harvesting crops and working in the canneries. As you can imagine, my experts are pretty old, so I was privileged to get their stories just in time.

And now I love to hear how readers respond to the book. They laugh, they cry, they connect with my story. They tell me their own stories of relatives who knew German POWs at that time. Thatís why I love the book tour. I get to be with my readers, the audience that really matters.

Now, back to packing.