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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Author Interview: Lindsay Townsend

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Lindsay Townsend. Lindsay has loved reading about adventure, interesting characters, emotional conflicts and choices since she was little. "My mother's main stories about me as a child either have me sitting on the hearthrug for hours, deep in a book, or falling out of a tree into a bed of nettles," she said. "This says it all, really. Now I write it as well as read it."

I asked Lindsay how she came up with the titles to her books. "My husband and I bat ideas around and something usually arrives," she told me. "Some titles are mine and some are his."

She called her newest work, coming out this week from Bookstrand, Blue Gold, because she says, "It's set in ancient Egypt and the title conjures up a picture of hot sand, blue sky, and mystery."

Occasionally an editor would intervene in the title process, she told me, but only to give Lindsay a chance to think up something better. "I've never had a publisher impose a title on me," she said.

Lindsay told me that she considered one of the most important elements of good writing to be clear and high stakes. "Your book has to make the reader care about the outcome," she explained. She certainly carries that out in her own writing.

In A Knight's Vow, Alyson and Guillelm fall in love, only to have their marriage forbid by his father. Guillelm leaves for the crusades, is thought dead, and returns after seven years to find Alyson betrothed to his father.

In Flavia's Secret, Flavia—a slave in ancient Aquae Sulis (the modern day Bath)—has forged a note in order to protect herself and her fellow slaves. If the deception is discovered, however, they may all die.

In A Secret Treasure, Eve—whose brother, David, is in the resistance—falls in love with Falcone, an Italian representative of the Fascist government.

Lindsay continued with her description of what she considers good writing. "An individual writing 'voice'. Interesting, well-drawn characters. Lively dialogue. Good sense of pace and atmosphere."

On a more personal note, I asked Lindsay what her favorite pizza was. "Seafood," she said, "though I just like pizza. I'm with Garfield on this one, though I do like salad, too."

She admits to having cried at movies "lots, and mostly during the happy bits. I've even shed a tear during the sentimental scenes in 'Frasier.' I'm afraid I'm a 'happy ending' junkie."

She loves thunderstorms and wishes scientists would invent a car that drives on CO2 and expels oxygen in its exhaust. "I can dream," she told me.

Finally, I asked Lindsay what advice she would give a new writer just starting out.

"Write what you love to write - your passion and sincerity will shine through," she said. "Keep going, work hard and make every page as good as you can. Write, then polish - always polish your work before sending it out. If your book is good enough, you will find an editor who loves your work because all writing is subjective and everyone, reader or writer, is an individual. Join a writing support group if you can. Read widely in the genre you're interested in writing."

You can keep up with Lindsay on her blog, http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com/.

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