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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Lisa Lickel, Author of the Map Quilt

Today's interview is with Lisa Lickel, a multi-published author and novelist. Lisa likes writing and performing radio theater, short story-writing, is an avid book reviewer and blogger. She enjoys teaching writing workshops and working with new writers and freelance editing. She is the editor of Wisconsin Writers Association’s Creative Wisconsin magazine. She lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house in Wisconsin filled with books and dragons. Married to a high school biology teacher, she enjoys travel and quilting.

Her most recent book, The Map Quilt, is the second mystery in a series.  Lisa's first book was The Gold Standard. In The Map Quilt, her main characters Judy and Hart and their sidekick Poncho Villa (their pet cat) work to unravel the murder of Hart's boss and how Judy's ancestors were once part of the Underground Railroad.

Lisa, how did you come up with the story for the second book in The Buried Treasure mystery series?

 The journey of The Map Quilt started when I was in fifth grade, learning about the Underground Railroad, watching my grandmother sew quilts, and discovering the astonishing fact that not all black people in the United States came here on slave ships. As we gradually discovered more about the community we plan to retire to, I was taken with the real Cheyenne Valley, and the round barns that Alga Shivers built.

Tell us about the setting for The Map Quilt.

The Map Quilt setting is a kind of a time travel. Wisconsin history is lengthy and varied, from the glacial age to aboriginal people of 10,000 years ago, to the Voyageurs who explored and colonized, to the shipping and mining and logging industries which make a triangle of the state. The Map Quilt is set on the western side of the state, in rich farming country. Time has sort of taken a break there; you can still see original brick homes, the HoChunk Nation farms and has tobacco fields. There are many Amish settlements, so it’s not hard to see horses working the fields. The opening and closing of this story speaks to life in 1860.

How difficult was it to publish The Map Quilt?

This is one of those lessons I’d love every new and want-to-be author to learn: Even after you sign a contract publication isn’t guaranteed. I hope it’s more rare than not, but things change constantly. Publication is “hurry up and wait.” Things happen in the company over which you have no control: your publisher or acquiring agent leaves; the genre line changes, staff comes and goes; somebody changes his or her mind. After I signed with the publisher for The Gold Standard, the whole book club was put on hold; then my book was taken out of the lineup and I had to rewrite it according to a new protocol for the club, then the word count changed twice. I was offered a second contract for The Map Quilt which became moot when the book club was shut down. It was my first book. I wasn’t smart enough to run screaming, even though I had an agent at a time, nothing helped. I think a nervous twitter ran through the CBC community after that and I couldn’t sell The Map Quilt anywhere, nor could my second agent. I kept pursuing publication and finally found a lovely company, MuseItUp Publications, who delighted to take the book. The editors were fantastic and so far it’s been a good experience. The print version is coming out separately. And Muse is re-releasing The Gold Standard in December.

Introduce us to the main characters.

Judy and Hart Wingate are back, of course. They’re married now. Judy teaches school at Robertsville Elementary and is expecting their first baby any minute. Hart finished graduate school and is a full-fledged engineer working with Bryce, his friend and mentor, at Inventiv-Ag, a company that makes agricultural equipment. They live in Judy’s family home, an old farmhouse with a great history, rumored to be involved with the Underground Railroad. One of Judy’s last class projects for the schoolyear is having a guest speaker, Julietta, who portrays Harriet Tubman, but who also has mysterious ties to Robertsville. Bryce’s wife, Ardyth, hasn’t changed much; she still wears plaid and enjoys taking care of everyone whether they want it or not. A new character is Hart’s mom, Ellen, widowed, and having an entirely inappropriate (to Hart) relationship with the Robertsville Police Chief, Barry Hutchinson. We’re also meeting the character of who solves the murder of poor Esme Espe in the next book, The Newspaper Code. And finally, since Carranza, the extremely opinionated cat, disappeared at the end of The Gold Standard, his son, Pancho Villa, helps out.

What can you share about the faith elements of the story?

Judy and Hart have a deep faith, which they explored and helped each other resume after they met and got to know each other better. Bryce has always been a man of faith, as Ardyth, and the chief, Barry. They don’t necessarily take that for granted, but it’s Hart’s mom who has only had a peripheral kind of faith. She took her kids to church, but let other things get in the way so she and Hart’s dad never took the time to practice much of a faith. Barry helps Ellen come to know Christ in that special response to His call, along with encouragement from Judy and Hart. It’s a gentle and loving automatic part of their lives. Ellen learns that prayer has real purpose and God doesn’t just listen and judge from afar.

How can we buy the book?

You can read the first chapter on Lisa's web site at 
Through MuseItUp. Here is the direct link to the book.

And through 

For more information visit


  1. Thank you, Teena, for inviting me today.

  2. Very nice interview.


    Tom Blubaugh, Author
    Night of the Cossack

  3. Thanks. It's always fun to crawl into the minds of other writers.

  4. Great interview, Teena and Lisa! I love this kind of book, so I hope I can read it sometime soon. :)

  5. Thanks Crystal. I'm reading it now. It's a homespun mystery. Reminds me of Hoosier stuff you might write.

  6. Thanks, Crystal - I do think this would be fun for the book club ;)
    and Teena. I loved writing it and can't wait to get back to the third one, sadly neglected this year.