Can you work anywhere, or do you have a favourite place to hideaway and write?
My husband and I spend winter months in Florida and summers in Kentucky. In both homes, my writing space is in the guest bedroom. I use the guest bed for an "open" file cabinet, which then requires putting everything in drawers when we have guests. I need quiet to work, and prefer to have a block of several hours at one time without interruption. Who doesn’t?
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I am definitely a panster. I have a "loose" idea of where my story is going. I usually make a list of chapters and one thing that may take place in each. But I don’t always adhere to this framework. When I get the characters talking with each other, they often take their story in a different direction than I had planned. At that point, I feel more like a recorder than the author. It always works better if I get out of their way than if I try to maintain control.
Have you had rejections and if so, how did you deal with them?
I’ve had many rejections in my career. They are part of the publishing process. First form letters, then rejections with notes from the editors, then offers to take another look if I’d change this or that. Finally the moment when something is accepted. I have learned that it is true there are many reasons for rejections and it is my story, not me that is being turned down. Still, a rejection is a disappointment. But I was born under the sign of Taurus and I suffer from "dog with a bone" syndrome so I get up and attempt to break through the "wall" again. And again.
Do you use prologues or epilogues? Do you like flashbacks? How do you think they might help a novel?
Can you remember which craft tip helped you most?
Several tips from different people comes to mind but the first and one of the most important was from a college English professor who was teaching an adult ed class. I had begun my first short story of any worth and read the beginning to him. I was elated that this story had taken on a life of its own (my first experience with how the creative process worked) and he was obviously bored. But he pointed out that the narrator should never talk above the educational level of the characters in the story. And I had been narrating in my own voice. It made all the difference. And that story went on to win the Fiction Skills Scholarship at the Indiana University Writers’ Conference that year. (Thanks to a bored professor!)
Is a sense of place important in your writing? How do you set about researching it?
Sense of place is vastly important in everything I write. But since I set my stories in many of the places I have lived, or visited, I often don’t have to do extensive research. If the story is set in another time period, that requires more effort but if I am familiar with the location, I can still make the story real.
Do you think it important for a writer to take time off? How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing?
I think there is a good argument for taking time off and for also keeping your nose to the grindstone. I don’t like to leave something I’m in the midst of. I lose momentum and have to make a greater effort to get back into the story. However, when I finish a book, it is nice to reward myself with a short period of non-writing activities. My husband and I do ballroom dancing every week. We also walk a couple of miles a day. And in Florida we use a pool. I enjoy traveling, including flying. And exploring as much of England as we could was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. We traveled with National Holidays most weekends and were the only Americans onboard. As most authors, I also relax by reading and losing myself in a book.
With the increasing popularity of ebooks, how do you think digitisation might help or change your own career as a writer?
Digital publication has changed my writing career completely. I became an ebook author in early 2008 and I currently write for seven digital publishers. I wrote paperbacks for a NY publisher in the mid-90s so I have a good basis for comparison. I prefer digital pubs in every way except one--they don’t pay an advance and earnings are less overall. I am still in awe with the speed in which the entire process takes place. My first ebook was accepted and I had a signed contract in less than eleven days. Compare that to the two years I once waited to hear from a well-known NY publisher who had asked to see a complete. And then after the long wait, I got a form rejection letter!
Do you enjoy writing sequels or series? If so, what is the special appeal for you?
I’m not sure that I enjoy writing sequels. I have a sequel to my published historical and it is still mostly in my head after several years. And I have a sequel almost completed to my contracted but unpublished shorter historical but this one has taken much too long to write. I’ve never done a series and don’t plan to. They bore me. And it seems to me they often get weaker as they trickle down. I suppose the original excitement is gone for the author as well as the reader.
Do you write under a pseudonym? What do you find to be the pros and cons for using one?
I write as Linda Swift which is my maiden name. My legal name is Linda Swift Reeder but that is too "cutesy" to be believed. And my agent at the beginning of my publishing career suggested that I shorten my name as the letters could be larger on the book cover. For the same reason--name recognition-- I usually request block letters and colors that are easily visible. Cover artists are sometimes reluctant to give up their vision of fancy unreadable script but I usually remain polite but firm on this point. My only problem with using my maiden name professionally is that sometimes people refer to my husband as Mister Swift which irks him a bit.
What are the particular difficulties you have found in writing about real historical figures?
To find out more about Linda and her work, please visit her website http://www.lindaswift.net
Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at:firstname.lastname@example.org