Linda was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. At the age of twenty-two, Linda went to work in Switzerland, and never left. Her day jobs have included physiotherapy in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, teaching English in a medieval castle, along with several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.
In our discussion, Linda mentioned that the ideas for her books mostly come from daily life. The Paradise Trees (2013) was inspired by her father-in-law’s struggle with dementia, and she started writing The Cold Cold Sea (2014) shortly after learning that a child in her extended family drowned in the 1940s, aged eleven. The Attic Room (2015) begins in one of her most-loved places, the Isle of Arran on the west coast of Scotland. Her latest book, Ward Zero is on preorder now for release on October 1st.
Linda kindly agreed to an interview with One Stop Fiction.
Q: You live on the shores of Lake Constance. Can you think of anywhere that you’d rather be to write a novel?
A: Somewhere by the sea. I love the ocean, and our lake, although beautiful, just isn’t the same. No crashing waves. So I’d choose a lovely Greek island for part of the year, The Isle of Arran in Scotland for a month or two – and the rest of the time here at home!
Q: You’ve lived in Switzerland for many years, other than family and friends, what do you miss about Scotland? Do your memories get woven into your storylines? Do you see your characters in the people around you or from your past?
A: I miss the Scottish humour and the buzz of Glasgow. It’s always great to go back for a visit. Fortunately, I have family and friends still there so I’m over every year.
I set my books in places I know well. So far, only one is (partly) set in Scotland, but my work-in-progress is set in Glasgow. My characters are imaginary, ‘paper’ people, but I guess some of them have bits of me and bits of others in them too!
Q: Where do you find the inspiration for your characters and plots?
A: My ideas come from daily life, the things happening round about. For instance, the plot of Chosen Child came to me while I was at a wedding, chatting to someone who worked in child welfare. I always think the plot through first, and then consider who my characters are. It’s the characters who make the plot happen, so they have to be right.
Q: How do you prefer your writing environment to be? Silence, music, hustle and bustle? Are you a morning writer or as the inspiration grabs you?
A: If possible, I write or edit every day. I’m usually a late afternoon onwards writer, and I need inner and outer peace, coffee, and sweeties to suck. And social media switched off…
Q: When you relax, which books/genre do you like to read? Which authors inspire you?
A: I love Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, Mary Higgins Clark, and many other crime/suspense writers. I enjoy character-based books where you really get to know the people and what makes them tick.
Q: Do you spend time with social media, promoting and marketing your work? Which are your preferred platforms? Are there platforms you find do not work for you?
A: I’m on Twitter, Facebook, G+, and (new) Pinterest. My main platform’s Twitter. I like Facebook, but I find it hard to tell how effective it is, and who sees what I post there. I try not to spend more than an hour or so a day on social media, but it’s easy to get sucked in!
Q: Do you get a lot of interaction from your readers? Do you answer them personally or have publishers or assistants (V.A.’s) to do this?
A: I love getting feedback from readers and if someone contacts me I always reply personally. It’s lovely when people take the trouble to tweet they’ve liked a book, or they were gutted when something went wrong for some poor character – it brightens up my whole day!
Q: Which part do you like most in the writing process; plotting, pantsing, editing or marketing? What area do you really struggle with?
A: I love the feeling when the plot is going well and the book is growing and developing. Writing time flies by when that happens. Another favourite part is working with my editor to improve the early drafts of the book. It’s amazing how effective just tightening up a sentence can be, getting rid of the unnecessary words.
I struggle most when the writing doesn’t flow when every word has to drag itself out of my brain. I think the best thing then is to stop and go on with another writing project in the meantime. And for me, another struggle is marketing and promotion – like a lot of writers, I’m not a naturally outgoing person!
Q: Come publication time, do you use launch teams or do you use an email list of early readers? What steps do you take before pressing the publish button?
A: I think it’s best to have some blog visits arranged for publication day and a couple of weeks afterwards, and I prepare visuals for my tweets and Facebook posts. Early reviews are important too. I’ve been very touched at how many people have helped me here. I have a blog where I write about a real mixture of things, mostly non-writing subjects, and I keep my followers there informed about how the new book’s going and when it’s coming out etc.
Q: What advice would you offer a new author just starting out on their journey? Are there any books or websites that you would recommend?
A: At the beginning of my writing career, I sent a couple of manuscripts to The Writers’ Workshop, and The Hilary Johnston Advisory Service. Both gave me some great ideas about how to improve these books. I still work with the editor I ‘met’ at the WW.
Q: What’s the best piece advice offered to you as an author?
A: ‘Write down ten things the reader never finds out about each of your characters.’ So in my books, Alicia does jazz-ballet, Maggie makes most of her own clothes, Rick was an enthusiastic Boy Scout… etc! This makes the character more real in your eyes, and that automatically comes over in your writing.
CHOSEN CHILD. A disappearance. A sudden death. A betrayal of the worst kind.
Ella longs for a child of her own, but a gruesome find during an adoption process deepens the cracks in her marriage. A family visit starts off a horrifying chain of events, and Ella can only hope she won’t lose the person she loves most of all.
Amanda is expecting her second child when her husband vanishes. She is tortured by thoughts of violence and loss, but nothing prepares her for the shocking conclusion to the police investigation.
And in the middle of it all, a little girl is looking for a home of her own with a ‘forever’ mummy and daddy…