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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

INTERVIEW: LINDA SWIFT

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Linda Swift, whose newest book Maid of the Midlands has just been released. She got the idea for the story when she and her husband were living in England. They frequently toured castles, great houses, minsters, and abbeys. In one castle in the Midlands, there was a courtyard with a huge tree that was very old. Linda began to picture a young maid sitting on the bench that circled it. They learned that Mary Queen of Scots had been a "visitor" there for a short time while she was held captive in England. In Scotland, they visited Holyrood Palace and saw the bed where the queen had slept. Later they visited the site where Fotheringhay Castle had stood. This was where Queen Mary had been beheaded.


"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 Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Linda holds an Education Specialist Degree from Murray State University with post-graduate work from U. of Alabama and was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist for public schools in three states. She credits her husband and adult children for providing encouragement and technical support necessary for survival in the cyberspace world.


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:


Website: www.LindaSwift.net

https://www.facebook.com/home.php?clk_loc=5#!/profile.php?id=1213390116

https://twitter.com/#!/LindaSwift


When Mary Queen of Scots is sent to Hafton Castle in the Midlands, Matilda becomes her waiting-lady. The comely maid loves Jondalar, a stalwart castle guard who returns her affection but places his greed to succeed above all else. After Matilda nurses the queen through a fever, she rewards the maid with a valuable ruby. Jondalar plots with the young lord of the castle to rid the Crown of the captive queen in return for a promotion in the guard. When Matilda learns of the guard's betrayal of the queen she must chose between loyalty and love.
Photobucket

19 comments:

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What wonderful adventures you've had, Linda. I never knew all these splendid things about you. How wonderful to live in England for a time and visit castles and countryside. I love old trees and it warmed my heart to find that an old tree inspired you to write Maid of the Midlands.
You're so right about titles and their importance in drawing attention. I've seen quite a few titles that I knew were taken from other books or songs. I didn't know that Kensington (or other traditional publishers) might change a title but I can see the need for it in some cases.
How exciting to have a home in two states. You never have to endure the winter blues--unless you just want to.
Wonderful blog, Linda. I enjoyed reading it and learning a little more about you. I know Maid of the Midlands will be a great success.

Nikki said...

Nice interview, as always, Linda. Best of luck with Maid of the Midlands; I always enjoy reading novels about the unheralded folk. They're what make the world go round!In some ways you have to work much harder to tell their stories, because there is little or no documentation about them.You have to be more inventive--as I know you are.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Sarah,
Thank you so much for being my first visitor today and for all of your comments. Yes, living in England was the most memorable experience of my life except for personal "family" events. As for lving in two states, there is an upside and downside. "Moving" twice a year is a chore, but it means automatically cleaning house as well. And enjoying warm weather all year long is heaven to me.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Nikki. Thanks for your compliments. And I think I write mainly about ordinary people because I can relate better since I'm one of them! Writing about Queen Mary was easy, though, because I had "immersed" myself in a very detailed book that covered her entire life. I'll have a blog at LASR soon with more about that.

Paula Martin said...

Hi Linda
As you know, I really enjoyed Maid of the Midlands and wish you great success with it.
I love how you describe your characters and how you 'know' them, as that's exactly how I feel about my characters too.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Paula, it was so nice of you to stop by. I think we are kindred spirits since we do seem to think so much alike. I can tell reading your work that you know your characters well and you help readers to know them, too, with just a few well-placed statements by them or about them. And I can "see" your settings. The Lake District scenes brought back real memories of visiting there as well.

Linda Swift said...

Readers, this interview will be featured until the end of Thursday so I will be drawing a winner for Maid of the Midlands at 9PM EST Thursday night. Please check back.
Good luck to all. Linda

Unknown said...

I am so happy to have discovered your books through your lovely daughter! I have already gone through several of them, and I can't wait to read more!

Linda Swift said...

Dear Unknown, thank you so much for your comments. And your compliment of my daughter is more gratifying than the compliments of my books. (But I do appreciate both!) I hope I have an email address here for you in case you are a winner of Maid of the Midlands tomorrow night. Please check back and see if your name was drawn: drawing at 9PM EST Thursday night. Thanks for your visit.

Cowlady said...

I love the fact that you were described as a "pantser" (took me a moment! lol
I am also excited about the plot of "Maid of the Midlands". Not a huge fan of historical romances, but this one seems to be grabbing my attention!

Stormy said...

Matilda sounds like a terrific heroine! What a decision to make during a time when a woman could only have a small amount of security by having a husband. To protect the deposed Queen or hold onto her own future. That's a great premise!

MomJane said...

This book sounds absolutely awesome. I can hardly wait to read it.

Linda Swift said...

Yes, Cowlady, I do write my books by the seat of my pants. And my seat is getting bigger from all this sitting at the computer all hours! Maid of the Midlands is not your typical historical so if you like to try new things, I can promise you haven't read another like it. And if you don't win the book, is it only $2.99 at Amazon, Smashwords, and Monkeybars as who knows where else by now. Or if you really want a print book, they are at Amazon now.

Linda Swift said...

Stormy, I never thought of it just the way you put it. Makes me admire Matilda even more myself. And she was really smitten with Jondalar and his betrayal broke her heart. She knew she would end up in a workhouse if she saved the queen because her job was on the line as well. But she was a gutsy gal. I hope you read her story.

Linda Swift said...

MomJane, don't I remember you from Sunday at Goddess Fish? Here is another chance to win Maid of the Midlands and for all who don't win, I will be doing a guest blog on LASR next Monday, March 19th. Talking about Mary Queen of Scots next time and giving away another book. Thanks so much for coming by today and be sure to check back tonight for the winner.

Linda Swift said...

Cowlady, I sure hope you can read between the lines and edit my reversed words in your answer. I found a couple of glaring mistakes when I reread my post to you just now. I have a bad habit of not checking my posts BEFORE I send them. Sorry about that.

Kaye said...

Great interview and excited that Maid of the Midlands is availabe, plus a sequel on the way!! I know that both will be a BIG success!!!
Very happy and proud for YOU!
Love, Kaye

Linda Swift said...

Hi Kaye, and thanks for stopping by. I hope you read the earlier comments as "Unknown" had a nice compliment for you. And for you other readers, this is my daughter Kaye who is a very talented musician. Check out her website and meet her and see the video for her new duo, Butterfly Rose.
http://www.butterflyrose.net/

Linda Swift said...

Okay, ladies, it's past 9PM EST and I just put all of your names in a box and my husband drew the lucky winner. And the winner is....Cowlady. Congratulations! Please email me at LSwiftR@aol.com and I will send you a digital copy of Maid of the Midlands in the morning.
I do appreciate all who stopped and left comments and I'm sorry I can't give copies to everyone. I will be guest blogging at the link below on Monday March 19th. I'll be talking about Mary Queen of Scots and how she sort of forced herself into my book and I will give away another book to a visitor. Here's the line:
http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/
And if you can't wait for Monday, just go to Amazon,Smashwords, or Monkeybars and get the ebook now for $2.99 or print for $8.95.
Love and best wishes to all,
Linda