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Friday, May 27, 2011

Visiting with Linda Lovely, and Getting a Preview of Her New Book, Dear Killer

When I interviewed Linda, I discovered that we are both transplants from the Midwest to the South.  As a matter of fact, we are almost neighbors. Her new book, Dear Killer, sounds as if it is going to be a really good read.

A native of Iowa, Linda has called the South home for more than thirty years. She lives with her husband beside a peaceful South Carolina lake, where she regularly perturbs the geese and one honking big turtle by jumping off her dock for a swim or pedaling (yes, pedaling not paddling) her kayak. Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Sisters in Crime and the South Carolina Writers Workshop. She feels quite lucky to have found both close friends and exceptional critique partners—snarky, funny, talented and generous—through these writer organizations.

Linda cannot imagine going to bed at night without a book in hand. Thankfully, her husband shares her passion for reading, so she does not have to use a miner’s light to indulge her nocturnal habits.

Her manuscripts have made the finals in fifteen contests, including RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart (TM), Daphne du Maurier competitions, including other mystery contests such as Deadly Ink, Murder in the Grove and Malice Domestic. Her stories dish up a main course of suspense, action and adventure with a generous side of romance. Dear Killer
is set on a fictional Sea Island in the amazing South Carolina Lowcountry, known for its Gullah roots, historic plantations, fabulous food and pirates.   

Tell us about the genre of your work. 

I write mysteries and romantic suspense. However, my mysteries always include a generous side of romance, so the line between these genres is blurry. My mysteries are written in first-person from the heroine’s point of view (POV), while my romantic suspense books include multiple POVs that let the reader into the mind of the hero, heroine and villain.

Why did you choose this genre?

These are the types of books I have always loved to read. I like being on the edge of my seat but still feeling (somewhat) confident that the hero and heroine will survive and justice will be served.  A much more satisfactory read than too many real-world news stories. 

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

I was a journalism major in college and have made my living as a writer. Over the years, I have written dozens of feature articles for business and trade magazines as well as advertising copy, newsletters, etc. Dear Killer  is my debut novel.

Dear Killer will be released by L&L Dreamspell in June, 2011 in trade paperback and ebook formats. The print ISBN number is 978-1-60318-331-4. I am scheduling my first book signing at The Booksmith, our local independent bookstore. Dear Killer will be available through a variety of bookstores and the usual online outlets as well as some Lowcountry retail outlets.  
Live oaks, palmetto trees, vines and understory crowd a small lane. Not a place you want to abandon a car and flee on foot.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

My book is set in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where I lived there for a dozen years. I loved every minute of it, and I have tried to be faithful to the area’s natural beauty, culture and history. However, I elected to set my mystery on a fictional Sea Island in a fictional county near Beaufort. Since the criminal activities are imaginary, I did not want any readers to mistake them for real locations, or people.  I borrowed some names from my relatives, because I liked them (the relatives and the names!). My hero’s name is Braden Mann, the name of my great nephew. Other names just seemed to fit the characters I imagined.

To give you an idea of the setting in which the the story takes place, I have included some pictures of that area.

Small Shrimpboat-Many Lowcountry bridges
open to accommodate shrimp boats.
Small Dunes-Storms can radically remake sections of beach, obliterating dunes in one location, starting a building process in others.

Smaller than their mainland cousins, 
the deer that populate islands ate everything
in our yard except oleanders.
But watching them provided real pleasure.

Bleached driftwood decorates the beach at a state park.

These fellows are small. When we lived on a Lowcountry island, a gator mama
(much larger than these fellas) had her babies in the drainage ditch beside our house.
The babies chirp like birds.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

My heroine shares some history with one of my best friends from childhood, now an Army retiree, who spent the last part of her military career in military intelligence. Like my heroine, she also was trained as a Polish linguist.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

My antagonist speaks Polish and is a native of Poland because my heroine is a Polish linguist. The fact that she overhears a conversation in Polish plays a pivotal role in the plot.

What is your favorite thing about your book?

I like that my 52-year-old heroine is smart, feisty, fit and capable of handling her own problems. Yet she has a soft side, loves her friends and family—and loves life.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

I am a pantser. I have a vague idea of where I am headed when I start a book, but I let my characters lead me into unexpected territory. That sometimes means I have to backtrack and “reweave” to make certain the fabric of the plot does not have any loose ends.

Why and when did you begin writing?

I have always loved to write—and tell stories. When I was a kid, telling spooky stories around the campfire or in our basement was super entertainment. (No video games.) I majored in journalism, and  I have written nonfiction ever since. Several years ago, I was approached about ghosting a book. While the project ultimately was shelved, my experience in writing the opening chapters gave me confidence that I could write a novel.  

What is your writing schedule?

I work best in the mornings. Since I have made my living as a writer, I have no problem planting my fanny in a chair and staying at it until I have met a goal. When I am mid-manuscript, I usually set word goals for each week. Of course, my critique partners throw me a curve now and again by telling me I need to rethink the pages I have just written.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I am fine-tuning the manuscript for No Wake Zone, the sequel to
Dear Killer. My heroine, Marley Clark, is not going to have it any easier in the sequel. I have also started a historical mystery set in Keokuk, Iowa, in the 1930s. The era is an interesting one, especially for women, who were given new freedoms in the Roaring Twenties and tapped to work in factories during World War I, but were then expected to go home when the Depression hit.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write (especially mystery)?

Read, read and read some more. Then start writing. Join writer organizations like Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America and find compatible (but totally honest) critique partners.

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?

Enter contests and consider each judge’s comments. You will not agree with all of the suggestions/criticisms, and that is okay. However, keep an open mind. Do not ever kid yourself that your manuscript is perfect.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

Having a client return one of my invoices and instruct me to redo it—he felt I had not charged enough. Making the finals of the RWA Golden Heart and Daphne du Maurier contests.  Signing a book contract!


Ellis Vidler said...

I've read Dear Killer, and it's a terrific book that will give you a good idea of life in the Lowcountry--minus the murders, of course. Nice interview, Linda and Sylvia.

Marilyn Levinson said...

wonderful interview.