June 6, 2018
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST BOOK.
Dear Heart, which is the first of my books to be accepted by a publisher, explores the profound and passionate relationship between lovers who are separated for a lifetime.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE FUTURE?
I’m readying Dear Heart’s companion book, Sweet Heart, for submission to Solstice. When that’s done, I’ll start the second draft of a stand-alone romantic comedy entitled Interoffice Romance. Simultaneously, I’ll be fleshing out the third of my romance trilogy, Change of Heart.
HOW DO WE FIND OUT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BOOKS?
I have an active presence on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LindaLingleBooks and a website, which can be reached at https://www.lindalinglebooks.com/.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS?
It wasn’t a conscious decision for me. I was actually writing a mystery when I got the idea for Dear Heart. While I was working on it, I got ideas for Sweet Heart, Interoffice Romance and Change of Heart. So, I guess you could say that romance stories decided that I was going to write them, not the other way around.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR PERSONALITY AND LIFE EXPERIENCES ARE IN YOUR WRITING?
Each of my novels started out being based on something I’d experienced or knew about. However, they very quickly took on lives of their own and left me and my experiences in the dust. Ironically, there’s very little of me in the main character of Dear Heart. I’m much more likely to be associated with the secondary character, Denise. So far, there’s no trace of my personality in Interoffice Romance or Change of Heart.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST THINK ABOUT WRITING AND WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO SUBMIT YOUR FIRST MANUSCRIPT?
I started writing short stories in my early twenties and was successful in placing them. However, I didn’t have the chops to sustain a longer narrative, got discouraged and decided to pursue a career in public service. It wasn’t until I started writing Dear Heart that I stopped worrying about what I didn’t know and let the story tell itself. I loved the story so much that I wanted it to have a life outside of my study, so I began submitting it.
GENERALLY, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?
It took me two years to finish Dear Heart, but it only took me a week to write Sweet Heart. There was a lot of research that went into Dear Heart and it took me awhile to figure out the backstories of the characters. Since Sweet Heart is generally set in the same fictitious world, and I knew who the narrator was and how he spoke, it was a lot easier. Plus, I wrote twenty hours a day during the week I was working on Sweet Heart and only slept by taking several catnaps during the day.
DO YOU HAVE A SET WRITING SCHEDULE OR DO YOU JUST GO WITH THE FLOW?
I like to have peace and quiet when I write and so I generally write between 9 PM and 3 AM when my husband and dog are in bed and not likely to interrupt me.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING ROUTINE ONCE YOU START A BOOK?
Generally, I like to know the first sentence before I actually start writing. I get a story idea and let it marinate until a first sentence comes to me. In the meantime, I create the writer’s equivalent of a storyboard, and spend weeks scouring the internet for pictures of the characters as I envision them, their homes, where they work and any other settings that are important to the story. When it’s time to write, I start with the first chapter, but then I’m likely to skip all over the book. For Sweet Heart, I got stuck on the ending to the first chapter and couldn't figure out how to transition to Chapter Two. Meanwhile, I got an idea for the last chapter which excited me, so that's where I went. I wrote it in less than two hours and without having to open a vein. After that I skipped all over the book, writing what the spirit moved me to write. The end of the first chapter was the last thing I wrote.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY? DO THEY KNOW NOT TO BOTHER YOU WHEN YOU’RE WRITING – OR ARE THERE CONSTANT INTERRUPTIONS?
Oh, they know not to bother me, but they do anyway.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX AND RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES?
Watch my favorite shows on television: Suits, Billions, Homeland, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder and Designated Survivor, to name a few. I also binge-watch favorite series once a year: The Good Wife, Newsroom, West Wing and Battlestar Galactica, the remake.
WHAT TRULY MOTIVATES YOU IN GENERAL? IN YOUR WRITING?
That’s a good question. As a writer, first and foremost I want to tell a good story in an authentic voice. As a person, I’m generally motivated by self-interest. That’s a terrible thing to admit, but it’s the truth of it.
WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?
The ether that dances around Fate.
DO YOU FEEL HUMOR IS IMPORTANT IN ROMANCE AND WHY?
I think humor is important in everything. Life is hard and it helps to be able to laugh. Some stories don’t lend themselves to humor; neither Dear Heart nor Sweet Heart did, but I brought humor into the books through a secondary character, who turned out to be one of my favorites.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LOVE SCENES IN ROMANCE NOVELS? DO YOU FIND THEM DIFFICULT TO WRITE?
I’m in favor of love scenes that flow organically in the story and find these easy to write. However, if I think that I need to insert a love scene into the plot to spice it up, I find it excruciatingly difficult to write and I generally end up deleting it.
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH DO YOU DO?
I did extensive research for Dear Heart because I had to have an intimate knowledge of Frank Sinatra’s discography. It took me a couple of months to nail down the songs I wanted to reference in the book, and even then I was still tweaking the list throughout the process. In addition, I had to research the history of the San Francisco 49ers, run a hundred Map Quest searches to decide where everyone would live and create a fifty-five year timeline so I could keep track of what all the characters were doing throughout the story.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO WRITE A DIFFERENT GENRE, OR SUB-GENRE THAN YOU DO NOW?
I don’t think about writing in terms of a particular genre. I think about the stories I want to tell. I have a mystery on the drawing board, and a story about labor unions. I’d like to finish the romance trilogy before I start on those, but who knows? I write what the spirit moves me to write.
WHAT DOES YOUR HUSBAND THINK OF YOUR WRITING?
I think he thinks it’s a hobby. For sure he thought that before Solstice offered me a contract. Now he doesn’t know what to think.
DO YOU EVER ASK HIM FOR ADVICE?
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF (FAMILY, HOBBIES, EDUCATION, ETC.).
I’m fairly ordinary. I have a Bachelor of Humanities, and a husband and a dog. I’m very close to my sister and her family, and I have a half-dozen good friends. I’m not very social and my friends and family know this about me and don’t press me to participate in group get togethers. This has been particularly challenging for me since I signed with Solstice because I know I have to put myself out there if I want Dear Heart to be successful. I have found, though, that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, probably because I could talk about Dear Heart until the earth implodes.
FAVORITE DESSERT, CITY, SEASON, TYPE OF HERO, TYPE OF HEROINE?
Cheesecake, San Francisco, Fall. I’m drawn to strong, independent characters of both genders, and prefer feisty women to damsels in distress.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO?
Shop, shop, and shop.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE AUTHOR? FAVORITE BOOK?
My all time favorite authors are Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe detective series and Donald Hamilton, who wrote the Matt Helm spy series. I also like a lot of Stephen King and most of John Grisham. My favorite book is The Adventurers by Harold Robbins.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CRITIQUE GROUPS IN GENERAL?
My philosophy is do not ask anyone for constructive criticism. They will eviscerate your book because they think that's their job, or for darker reasons, like jealousy and self-interest. This will demoralize and stymie you, and no good whatsoever will come it. That being said, I do believe in seeking encouragement. I had three friends who read Dear Heart before I started querying it. Though there were some rough spots in the book that obviously needed to be smoothed out, they did not mention them. They focused on everything they loved about the book. My advice is, if you want someone to read your book before you start sending it out, find friends like mine who love you enough to lie by omission because they believe in you. If you’re not totally oblivious, you’ll know what has to be fixed and you’ll be able to fix it because you won’t be crushed by the weight of criticism, which, trust me, is not going to help you no matter how accurate it
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?
Accepting an academy award for the screenplay for Dear Heart.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING? HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER?
I’ve been writing off and on since I was in high school. I started out wanting to be a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline for it, and I needed to earn a living. I started writing again about five years ago and will probably continue to write for as long as I have stories to tell.
AFTER YOU’VE WRITTEN YOUR BOOK AND IT’S BEEN PUBLISHED, DO YOU EVER BUY IT AND/OR READ IT?
The launch date for Dear Heart hasn’t been set yet, but I am already planning to purchase a dozen paperbacks for myself as well as a Kindle version. There is no doubt in my mind that I will re-read Dear Heart at least once a year.
WHAT COMES FIRST, THE STORY, THE CHARACTERS OR THE SETTING? WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT ROMANCE FOR YOU?
The story comes first, always. Then the characters. For me, a great romance has a happy ending. Secondarily, it should have consistency, credibility and conflict – which is true for books of all genres.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF WRITING/THE EASIEST FOR YOU?
The hardest part for me is finding the right voice for the characters. The easiest? Hmm, is there anything easy about writing?
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED WRITER’S BLOCK? IF SO, HOW DID YOU WORK THROUGH IT?
I have but I don’t sweat it. There’s always research to do, or another book to work on. And on those rare occasions when I’m mentally exhausted and the thought of opening my laptop makes me want to run screaming from the house, I don’t force it. I say, why torture yourself? Conventional wisdom is that writing in 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. But for me, writing is 100% about the inspiration, because when you're inspired, you won't have to break that much of a sweat. I'm not saying you won't have to work, but the fact is that a truly inspired story will tell itself, while a story light on inspiration and heavy on perspiration will end up hopelessly contrived.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Bringing a story to life that I see in my mind’s eye.
IF YOU WEREN’T WRITING, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Writing is such an important part of my life now that I can’t imagine that I won’t always be working on something.
ARE THERE ANY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR UNPUBLISHED WRITERS?
More than anything else, believe in your story. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to dissuade you from writing it. Don’t let anyone convince you to self-publish if you believe you can place your book with an actual publisher. Don’t let anyone scare you about copyright issues or lawsuits. Don’t let anyone try to minimize what you’re doing. If the person you want most in the world to love it doesn’t want to read it, or the person you most want to share the experience with changes the subject every time you bring it up, shrug it off. It will be hard and it will break your heart, but don't let it derail you. Believe in your story and believe in yourself. It took me almost two years of sending out queries before I finally found a publisher for Dear Heart. During that time, I never lost faith that it would ultimately find a home. And now that it’s about to be published, I will not rest until I find a producer who will bring Dear Heart to life on the big screen. Many will say this is a pipe dream and that I’m deluding myself that I will ever be able to persuade Robert Redford or Rob Reiner to produce it, but those same people never expected me to land a publisher either. It may take me ten times longer than it did to find a publisher, but I will see Dear Heart in a movie theatre some day because I believe in the story.