Author Interviews

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Author interview no.656 with Linda Rondeau (revisited)


Back in February 2013, I interviewed author Linda Rondeau for my mixed WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the six hundred and fifty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with suspense / romance, historical and speculative fiction author Linda Rondeau. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Linda. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Linda RondeauLinda: First and foremost, I’m a wife, mother and all the normal roles in society. Before retiring, I worked as a social worker. I have always written as a hobby, for my own enjoyment and for school plays. In my work, supervisors often commented on my excellent documentation and case studies as well as policies and procedures. One day I realized I might reach more people through story than one on one and so I decided to write professionally. I took the plunge on June 21, 2000, first publishing stories, essays and poetry. Eventually I received my first book contract, eleven years to the date, I decided to be a real writer.
Morgen: It took me 38 years to realise that I could be a writer and another six to quit my job. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
The Other SideLinda: My first book, The Other Side of Darkness (Harbourlight 2011), written under the name Linda Wood Rondeau, is a suspense with strong romantic elements. Based in the Adirondack Mountains, the environment is almost a character in the story. I am currently working on a second Adirondack suspense, Tree Eaters. These two are similar in their strong romantic elements as well as infusion of historical events into the contemporary story.  I also enjoy writing speculative fiction, perhaps to satisfy the yen to explore the “what if” of life. My novel, America II: The Reformation (Trestle Press/2012), written under L.W. Rondeau, is a futuristic, political thriller.  While my names are similar, I wanted to separate my contemporary / romance / suspense from my speculative fiction. I would love to tackle a novel aimed for high school readers.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Linda: Both books are available in all ebook formats as well as paperback. In both situations, my publishers managed the process. I still love the feel of a book in my hands. I hope to own a Kindle or e-reader of some sort in the near future. I find they are convenient for travel.
Morgen: That’s what I love about them. I have over 400 books on my iPad and I can use it for so much more. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
America IILinda: In The Other Side of Darkness, I think my favourite character is Aunt Sadie, a good-hearted woman who has a few skeletons in her past. If a movie? Camryn Manheim would be perfect.  My favorite character in America II: The Reformation is Ahmed Farid, an Arabian, who is the central character holding the book together. A kind man who desperately wants to keep the world from falling into civil war and a resultant third dark age. Movie? I’d case either Tony Schalhoub or Omid Djalili.
Morgen: I didn’t know Tony (until I Googled him) but Omid is on British TV a lot and is really funny. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Linda: My first book was written under the working title of Dawn’s Hope, the name of an estate in the book. My publisher changed the title to The Other Side of Darkness, a line from the book, and felt the title was stronger. I agreed. America II: The Reformation was my title, it is the first of a trilogy of a post apocalyptic world, set both in northern British Isles and Western United States. The planned sequels are: The Revolution; The Rebirth. My publisher felt the title was fine.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Linda: My current work in progress is called Tree Eaters, another Adirondack Suspense. I am also drafting a contemporary humorous novel, I Prayed for Patience / God Gave Me Children. There is some consideration of doing a book of devotions based on my seven-year religious column, This Daily Grind.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Linda: I write something every day, like a pianist needs to at least practice his scales, even if I don’t advance my current writing projects. I rarely have writers block because I’m balancing so many projects. If I get stuck, I move unto something else or go for a walk, then revisit the scene with a refreshed mind.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Linda: I do both, but my plots are like a shell. I mull over a story until I have a basic idea and characters formulated. Then I sit down and run with it. Often the end result surprises even me.
Morgen: Pleasant surprise, hopefully. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Linda: Readers like my characters and cite them as very believable, even the villains. I contribute this to two things: my social work experience and my years of experience in Community Theatre as an actor, director, and producer.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Linda: I edit as I go to some extent, then rewrite several times, doing three edits of my final draft before I hit send.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Linda: Absolutely. Even contemporary work requires research. In The Other Side of Darkness, while I had a lot of experience in court procedures and legal matters from my social work experience, I still had to do a lot of research on the scenarios I put forth in the book, sentencing, judicial rights, prosecutorial prejudice, etc. With a futuristic book, I researched scenarios of global warming and long-term impact. A writer is always researching for accuracy and believability.
Morgen: As they should because there will always be someone to point out errors and the last thing you want is for a reader not to believe what you’ve written. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Linda: I’ve never written in second person, but enjoy both third and first. I think the choice depends upon your characters. If you want several strong major characters, third person works. Although The Help was well written from six different first person points of view.
Morgen: Second is an acquired taste but I enjoy using it for short pieces. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Linda: I have done all of these formats, and still do.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Linda: I am not the same writer I was when I wrote my first novel. My first published book was my eighth novel and ninth book. I expect several of them will never see publication, but one never knows.
Morgen: You have the experience now to see where you may need to ‘fix’ them. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Linda: Rejection is my middle name. Even after publication, rejections are still plentiful. I realize that rejection is not personal. Editors have clear vision as to what they want. Rather than trying to continual adjust to suit a particular editor’s need, I move on to explore other avenues.
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s often about finding the right person for the right piece. Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Linda: In my early years, I entered a lot of contests. In my first year, I won Writer of the Year Award at my first conference. I have won many awards in short pieces. I was ecstatic when I won the Selah Award for Best New Novel in 2011 for The Other Side of Darkness (Harbourlight 2011) as it was an industry-wide award, not limited to attendees. I would not recommend that writers enter contests for validation. They are subjective, but it’s nice to have an award or two to hang in your office.
Morgen: And great for the CV. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Linda: Many writers are multi-published without an agent. I have had an agent for seven years. I think I might have sought one out too soon. While having an agent is very helpful in opening doors that otherwise might be closed, I would recommend not to think that is the only way to publication.
Morgen: Most authors I’ve spoken have published without one but many (myself included) would like one. How much marketing do you do
Linda: My two books are by print on demand publishers, although one is moving toward more traditional ranks. With my first book, marketing has been a nightmare since bookstores would only allow me in on consignment and the consignment fees. So I have depended largely on word of mouth. That can only be done by being visible both in the community and on-line. The second book will be easier to market as the publisher is working out selling relationships with key bookstores.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Linda: Although I knew marketing would be a heavy aspect of my new position as a published author, I did not anticipate the barriers. It’s all a learning process.
Morgen: It certainly is… like life, really. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Linda: Don’t be in a hurry to publish a novel. Hone your craft through shorter pieces, join writing groups, go to conferences, build your platform, and join critique groups. Too often authors rush to self-publish before they’re ready. While self-publishing is a viable alternative to more traditional publication, make sure you’re ready. Do your homework on your Indie provider.
Morgen: Self-publishing has got a bad name because of many poor-quality publications out there. There are so many options for feedback online these days (including my http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/feedback and http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/online-writing-groups) that even if there aren’t any physical writing groups, authors can (and must!) get feedback on their work. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Linda: Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, and Albert Einstein. I’d make lasagne because it’s the only thing I cook very well.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Linda: Apparently, I like the word “thudded” because it seems to creep a lot into my work.
Morgen: Oh dear. It’s not one I use (at all, I think) but I’ve been told (fortunately only in one of my writing groups) that my characters sigh a lot. :) That said a recent review (http://www.alanawoods.com/apps/blog/show/22793948-alana-woods-book-reviews-the-serial-dater-s-shopping-list-by-morgen-bailey) said I used ‘whilst’ too much. It hadn’t occurred to me, although I do think it’s more of a British usage than Australian but going back through the document, I do use it too much. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Linda: In the past, I was involved in Community Theatre as well as church activities. Since I’ve relocated to a different part of the country, I am currently looking into community clubs. I’d love to become involved in acting again.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Linda: My husband and I are avid golfers. We enjoy hiking, too. Now that we live in a more hospitable climate for outdoor activities, I hope to increase the hiking experiences, visiting state parks, and perhaps take up kayaking.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Linda: I think the best book on writing I read is Stephen King’s On Writing. I also have found Brown & King’s book on self-editing very helpful. I belong to several writers groups and find much help from my colleagues.
Morgen: ‘On Writing’ is the most recommended book in these interviews. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Linda: I belong to America Christian Fiction Writers and several subgroups, The Florida Writers Association, and subgroups, as well as National Association of Women on the Rise.  I started a Geezer Writers group (not offensive term as we make fun of ourselves as older writers) on LinkedIn.
Morgen: LinkedIn could be how we met. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Linda: Ebooks will continue to grow in popularity, and more and more writers will be independent publishers.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Linda: My website: http://www.lindarondeau.com
Morgen: Thank you, Linda.
I then invited Linda to include a synopsis of her latest book…
Following unprecedented climatic changes, resultant pestilence and war brought the world into chaos. Eventually, each nation surrendered its sovereignty to form a global democracy, initially known as The Accord. However, the democratic government proved too weak and was soon replaced by a faux democratic rule.
The year is 2073, and current governor of Western America Province, Edwin Rowlands, is poised to become the Constitutional Government’s second president. Many fear that the sweeping reforms found in his proposed Preservation Act will set him up as a dictator. If enacted, defection both past and present would become a crime punishable by death, thus bringing all outlands into crushing subjection.
While most believe reform is critical, factions disagree on how to prevent the Preservation Act from becoming law. Ahmed Farid, second President, believes reform can be managed within the existing government. Leader of the Revolutionary Army, Jimmy Kinnear, trusts only in military intervention. However, Jacob Goodayle, Chairman of Western America’s illegal outland government, favors separatism.
As tensions rise, civil war seems imminent. Who will be the voice of reason in a world on the verge of a third dark age?
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Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness / Harbourlight), Linda Rondeau, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.  Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com.  Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, is a futuristic political thriller published is now available in ebook on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Update April 2013: America the Second is no longer in print and I have added three books: I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children, Days of Vines and Roses and It Really IS a Wonderful Life. Amazing how much can change in such a short time! 
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