"So this tragic queen kept inserting herself in my imagination and when English friends gave me a book of her life, I became further motivated to write a story that included her. It was easy to connect the maid in the castle courtyard to the queen, and then I only needed a hero to complete the main characters," she explained. "He couldn't be a lord or high ranking person in my mind and finally a castle guard emerged to fill that role. Then came the plot and you'll have to read the story to learn more about that."
Most of the time, Linda's characters come first to her, just as they did for Maid of the Midlands, and her books are usually character-driven stories. However, sometimes a plot will come to mind first, and then she'll have to create characters to fit the story. A book she has coming out in a few weeks was this way. I asked her to tell us about it.
"It is a story that takes place in a mental hospital and involves someone who is not mentally ill but posed as a patient and through an unfortunate accident is unable to leave. After a time, the woman begins to fit the profile of the illness. It is a story of suspense, totally unlike the historical just mentioned. I have also written stories based on a setting that I have been fascinated with that made me start imagining people and events that might be part of it."
Linda is currently working on the sequel to Maid of the Midlands.
"Perhaps I should say reworking the sequel," she confessed. "The book is written but to my embarrassment, I found that I had jumped a few years too far ahead in describing the great hall and also some of the customs. Now I have to do more research and get my mental picture of the dwelling and the activities of everyday life back into 1607. Maid of the Midlands is set in 1573 and its sequel is in the time of the Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes is the historical character involved in this book and it has a very poignant love story."
Most of the time, a title will come to Linda as she writes the story. It might be a few words a character says, or a part of a quote from a poem or something a well-known person has said.
"With my NY publisher, I didn't worry too much about a title because the editor or someone in promotion usually changed it. I am annoyed by titles that consist of a well-known book or movie titles with only one word changed," she told me. "I think it shows a lack of imagination or effort on the part of an author. I try to make my titles two to four words for better visibility of the cover."
Linda and her husband split their time between two homes: in Kentucky and Florida. She uses the guest bedroom in both homes, using the guest bed as an "open" filing cabinet. She keeps other materials in the dresser and chest drawers.
"It might seem like poor planning to use the guest bedrooms but when we have guests, I can't work anyway," she said. "And since we live in a condo in Florida and a patio home in Kentucky, all of our rooms must be useful. I also surround myself with mementos that have special meaning to me and all the pictures on the walls are of English scenes I bought while living there."
Linda told me she was most definitely a pantser when it comes to her stories. She always has a very loose idea about where the story is going, but no definitely outline. She'll usually write down one thing that will be happening in a chapter, but she lets the characters take it from there.
"Once I get them talking to each other, the story is theirs. I never make a list of visual descriptions, background info, what they eat for breakfast. I know them and I don't need this written down on paper. I just let them live, think, and act as they are meant to do. And it works for me. I don't do a lot of rewrites. I write it my head before I put it on paper (computer screen) and it usually stays the way I write it except for edits of the final copy."
Characters with depth are the main things Linda looks for in a good book.
"If the characters are memorable and readers can relate to them in some way (either love or hate them) the book can have other flaws that will be overlooked," she said. "But it goes without saying, I hope, that the book should be free of sloppy writing or editing (ie errors of grammar, spelling, typos, etc.) I don't write a lot of physical descriptions of my characters, what they are wearing, what they eat, etc. but I try to let readers know what they are feeling and if they relate to that, they 'live' inside the characters. I just had a letter from a reader who had finished Single Status and she told me she missed them already. I've had that feeling when I finished a book I was really into and I consider this a high compliment."
She hears from readers a lot more now that when she wrote for a NY publisher.
"I suppose because it is so easy to communicate online," she mused. "I love the interaction with readers through blogs and interviews such as this and I am always happy when readers respond and I answer each and every response. I've had only good things said so far so I guess the disgruntled readers just don't bother to tell me. I am gratified when readers tell me that they stayed up late because they couldn't put the book down until they finished. And when they tell me I should write another book and let certain characters do whatever it is they envision. And one of the most complimentary things I remember was a reviewer who said 'WOW. Just wow' and then went on with her review. I think it is these heartwarming reviews that authors write for. To know that we have reached someone, touched a heart, made a difference in another person's life."
One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Maid of the Midlands.
About the Author:
Linda's first two books were published by Kensington. She currently has nine e-books(eight also in print)available from the publishers, Amazon, and other distributors. Two books of fiction, a haiku collection, and four short stories are also scheduled for 2012.
Find the author online at: