The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Linda Andrews, author of A Knight’s Wish and its sequel, Dancing in the Kitchen.
I asked Linda how long she’d been writing.
“I’ve been writing for eleven years now,” she said, “but I’ve always told stories. Just ask my mom. All kidding aside, like most writers I’m an avid reader. Truthfully, I haven’t always appreciated the ending of some stories, so I’d change it to suit my tastes. It wasn’t until I was stuck in traffic during my one and half hour commute home that I actually thought I could write a story on my own. To my surprise, characters started popping up in my head and filling the plots that I’d written down years ago.”
She has notebooks full of plots, she told me, but she can’t write the stories until the characters themselves come to her.
“Characters tend to be elusive creatures,” she explained. “But once they find me, it's hard to get them to be quiet. Waiting for Knight, my book due to be published this summer, required extensive revisions. In my defense, it was the second manuscript I’d ever written and my story telling style has changed quite a bit. Unfortunately, I already had the characters in my head for my next science fictionnovel and they wanted to talk. After much negotiation (they’ll be with me for 3 books), Nell and Beijing were content to mumble in the background until I rewrote Waiting for Knight.”
Linda has written twelve books. “The first will never see the light of day,” she said. Five of them are available and four others have been contracted to be published by Zumaya. “I’ve finished two science fiction stories with romantic elements in search of a publisher and am currently working on a third.”
Her favorite is her latest release Dancing in the Kitchen. “Part of it is because the hero (not to mention wizard) Alistair is a seemingly ordinary guy who takes the adventure craving heroine to places she’s dreamed of going,” Linda told me. “Of course, a talking matchmaking cat is also part of the story’s charm.”
Linda made me laugh when I asked her if she really, really wanted a dog. “Why?” she responded. “Do you have one you want to give away? All kidding aside, I have a dog and he’s pretty certain I wanted him, since I rescued him from the rather humiliating name of Kisses. Really not an appropriate name for a 100 lb German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix lapdog. But being a parent means, I also ride herd on a menagerie of two cats, a dog, a fish, three kids and a husband. And having a dog means I have to take him for walks around the park everyday where I can talk to my characters without having to write down what they say. I’m sure most writers would agree having a little downtime helps work out where the story is going-- for the next three chapters anyway.”
Linda has a unique view of herself and told me about it when I questioned her about whether or not she likes the way she looks in pictures. “Like most people,” she said, “I carry around a picture of what I look like inside my head based on what my family, friends and peers tell me. So it’s always shocking to see myself without the cape and tights standing tall with the breeze blowing through my hair. Of course, then I tell myself that every hero has their ordinary alter ego to blend in and I’m just fine.”
Linda told me that when she writes with a pen or pencil, she prints everything—even most of her signature. “It comes from working as a scientist,” she explained. “All lab work requires clear notations on things that were different, unexpected etc. These, in turn, help to explain why all my Petri dishes were free of growth if-- say-- I dumped bleach on the bench during plating or why there was an explosion in the hood because I added water to acid. Of course, printing also helps my critique partners read my comments.”
A saying that Linda uses a lot is “that’s because he/she is an idiot.” She told me, “While it’s not an especially nice expression, I find the versatility more than makes up for its snarkiness. While driving, it explains why some people cut others off (they’re idiots). It excuses the man with twenty items in a ten or less checkout lane (he’s an idiot). And, having worked years in retail, it explains...well, a lot of behavior. Of course, knowing where and when to apply the phrase adds to its power and helps to smooth over those times when I’m the idiot.”
One of my favorite “off the wall” questions to ask authors is, “Have you ever eaten a crayon?”
Linda informed me, “Only the purple ones. Purple is quite tasty. At least that’s what I told my mother when she caught me selecting them from the others. In my defense, I was five at the time. Who knows? When I’m eighty, I may decide to sample from the crayon box again and see if it still tastes good. Age should have some benefits.”
Finally, I asked Linda what advice she’d give a writer who was just starting out. “Learn all you can about the craft of writing but remember the best stories are those that come from the heart,” she said. “That said, know that most writers experience rejection and it’s hard to hear unkind words about your baby. Just keep believing in yourself and you’ll make it. Of course, chocolate and other writers to commiserate with don’t hurt either.”
You can keep up with Linda on her website, http://www.lindaandrews.net.