My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Linda and her two men in May during our vacation in England. We had a wonderful time together. And I had a lot of fun doing this interview with her.
Some warm-up questions first:
Coffee or tea?
I have to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It is either that or too many horns blasting at me as I’m driving to work. Then I drink tea at work—usually green tea with either lemon, honey, or cranberry. My students always have to comment that my drink looks like a urine sample. Teens. Gotta love ‘em.
Supergirl or Wonder Woman—who is your favorite?
Is this a trick question? Obviously it has to be Wonder Woman. I don’t think I have to explain my choice, as it is clear to everyone why—and not just because Wonder Woman has a crown either.
Curry or fish pie?
YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To both!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please excuse the overuse of exclamation marks, but I truly believe my stomach answered for me.
What puts you in a bad mood?
Apart from the reminder that curry and fish pie exists? Bad drivers. Stupid people who drive as if they don’t have a minute to live and put others in danger. The ones who haven’t had a coffee in the morning.
Tell us a bit about the men in your life.
Grin. My men. Sigh. Two wonderful little fur balls who make me feel too special too often. Mutley and Joxie—the terrible two. They are ten and still believe they are pups. In the house, they are soft as butter, but as soon as I’m out with them, every dog, cat, squirrel, bush, piece of litter and jogger is a potential threat. At least I get an upper body work out every day.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
Can typing be a super power? I type like I have clubbed fingers. It still amazes me that I write at all. Failing that, I would like to be able to freeze time and enjoy perfect moments for longer. I won’t mention what else I would do with my gift… I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Where is your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to?
I have been to a fair few places in my life, but I would have to say The Roaches in Derbyshire. I know it is not something most people would choose, but I love it there, and so do my boys. Climbing Hen Cloud is magical, and standing at the top to view the world surrounding me is perfect. Sigh.
The first word was redundant. Chocolate is all you needed to say to get my mouth watering and my expectations flying. If I had to choose…nope. Not happening.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I think I have this thought at least three times a week and every time it changes. I always say I would give up work, but even though at times my job as a teacher frustrates me, I do love teaching. I would like more time to write—especially with my typing skills being as bad as they are. I would also like to help look after abandoned or ill treated animals. I’m not some kind of canine Mother Theresa—it is a case of if I could make even a small difference, why not?
Who’s your favourite Comedian?
Without a doubt, Dawn French. But by saying that I am leaving out Jennifer Saunders. Can I say French and Saunders, or would that be cheating? And why did I start with “Without a doubt” when I then continued to doubt it?
And now off to the writing related stuff:
How many years have you been writing now and how did you come to it?
I have been writing for about eight years now. It was such a surprise when I started as I had never had the urge to put a story together before. I’d been reading stories from the Academy of Bards, and I remember thinking “I might have a go at that.” Five weeks later Hearts and Flowers Border was completed. But, considering I’d never written anything apart from essays, I was reticent about uploading the story to the Academy and fully expected it to be sent back with a note to “Don’t bother us again” attached. It wasn’t long before I caught the bug.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
I write because I love doing it. There are times when I don’t, true. But just to sit and create a story makes me feel wonderful. I shut off from what is happening to me in the outside world and dip into the world of my own creation. A little like therapy, apart from the typos.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
It depends on how much spare time I have and how motivated I am. As I said with Hearts, it took me five weeks to write and five months to stop my knees knocking together long enough to send it to the Academy. Dwelling in the Past was another quick one, but Beginnings took longer—probably because I had so much going on.
Am I waffling? Ah well…if you’ve read my stories before, you should be used to this by now. Fin de Siecle took me a week…I think you are beginning to understand what I’m trying to say, even though I’m saying it badly. A novel will write itself in the time it needs.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
Once again, it depends on motivation and time. Being a teacher takes up quite a lot of it, and sorting out family life takes up the rest. My writing is sporadic, but of late it has decided it wants a little more time. I have been writing most evenings for the last few weeks. Man. It feels good.
When and where do you write the most?
I like to write at night, but will write when the mood strikes. I like to write on my laptop in my conservatory. It is so peaceful there—or I should say here, as I’m sat writing this in the conservatory at this very moment.
How would you describe yourself?
I am quite shy—honestly, I am. I don’t like be the centre of attention—weird, considering I stand in front of thirty plus teens every working day. Now that I think about it, I am a mixture of shyness and confidence, as I can usually up the ante and be very sociable when I have to. I am a private person and don’t tend to open up to just anybody.
I believe I have a good sense of humour, although it tends to be just me laughing. As you may already know, I am a dog lover—well, any kind of animal really, but dogs are my first love. I hate injustice, ignorance, and any form of discrimination. (as an aside—there is a squirrel hopping around my garden and my lads are fast asleep next to me. If only one would open one eye…) I believe respect is a given to any one.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
I would say I am in all of my narrators, but especially Lou Turner in Beginnings. My stories are usually created by an event that has happened in my life. A case of what has shaped my life also shapes my stories.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Time? Or lack of? Actually, thinking of names is always a bugger. I go through my school register in my head and try to mix them up to find new names. I also find it difficult to write a synopsis. Are you kind of getting the drift that if you ask me a short question, I have to rabbit on? My apologies.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading True Nature by Jae. I’ve only just started it, but with her track record I know I will not be disappointed.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
Two characters who are meant to be together whatever the odds. The feeling of absolute connection. Each look, each touch, just adding to what they know they’ve got. And a happy ending. I am not a huge fan of crying at the end of a book. That is not a romance. That is a tragedy.
What advice would you give new authors?
Just write. Don’t overthink it, just write. There is always time to edit afterwards. I should say plan your work, but I never plan. I let the story unfold and then change stuff to fit. Whenever I have planned in the past, I always move away from it. I usually have a beginning, middle and end, though. That’s a start. Also, don’t let the criticism from others drag you down. We can’t please all the people all of the time. First and foremost, write for you, as you are your biggest and most honest critic.
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished a Halloween tale for the Academy and will be starting a sequel if people like the first part. I really enjoyed writing her—I always love writing ghost stories. I am also half way through a story about an actress who tells the tale of her first, true love—her drama teacher from university. However, I haven’t worked on that one for a while. Maybe I should open the file and have a dabble some time soon.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
It is all very exciting at the moment. Ylva have signed quite a few stories to publish and republish in the future, so I will be busy editing these. Hopefully I will get cracking on the second part of the Halloween story, and, maybe, finish the one about the actress. Happy days!
Thanks for answering my questions, Linda.
In spring 2014 we’ll publish the revised version of Hearts and Flowers Border. And our cover artist, Amanda Chron, sent us the new cover last weekend.
Also in 2014 we’ll publish Still Life and the revised version of Beginnings. And there’s more to come in 2015.