Note: My answers may contain some spoilers for the book—please don’t read this if you haven’t finished the book!
How did you get the idea for this book?
I didn’t travel much for school and library visits when my kids were little. Even though I love to travel, I always hate to be away from my family. One time when I at the airport getting ready to fly to Chicago for a school visit, I already missed my kids so much that I began thinking about rushing home and getting them and just taking them to the school visit with me. This was really a crazy idea, because my kids were preschoolers then, and they would have been very disruptive. But that idea led into me thinking about another mother taking her teenaged kids with her on a business trip. And as soon as I started thinking about that, it was like suddenly I could see this family sitting in the airport: a teenaged boy, a teenaged girl, and their mom, none of whom seemed to fit well together. And then I got so involved in imagining that other family’s lives, that I didn’t feel so bad about missing my own family.
Did you draw on your own background growing up on a farm to write this book?
Yes, very much so. Fortunately, my childhood was much less traumatic than Chuck and Lori’s. But like Lori and Chuck, I was very much shaped by where I grew up, and I was heavily involved in 4-H.
It greatly amused me that a few of the reviews of Takeoffs and Landings mentioned the farm background as if it were a very bizarre, alien, perhaps even imaginary setting. This made me wonder if people have any idea where their food comes from…
Did Chuck and Lori get along better after they got home from their trip than they did beforehand?
Yes, definitely. This isn’t to say that they don’t disagree ever again—they are still very different people—but at least they understand and respect each other a lot more.