Saturday, May 8, 2010
Interview with author, Linda Robertson.
I interviewed Linda a few months back, but since she's one of my favorite writer ladies, here it is again!
Here is a short synopsis of Hallowed Circle:
Persephone Alcmedi has been persuaded to compete for the position of High Priestess of the Cleveland, Ohio, coven -- now that the former priestess, Vivian Diamond, has strangely gone missing. Unfortunately, there are a few small problems with the idea. Not only does Seph know rather more about Vivian's disappearance than the other witches realize, but the epic struggle she's just survived has left her with some highly unusual powers -- ones that could be dangerous to reveal. Despite her reluctance, she agrees to participate, if only to prevent snooty Hunter Hopewell, an obnoxious but talented witch, from ending up in the winner's circle. Can Seph hide her secrets -- including her connection to the master vampire-wizard Menessos -- from the terrifyingly wise judges? Plus, there's her rock 'n' roll werewolf boyfriend, Johnny, and some angry fairies to deal with....
Once the competition begins, a finalist turns up dead. It looks as if one of the contestants is willing to do anything -- including murder -- to win. Suddenly Seph has even more on her plate than she thought: from solving a murder to working out what her new powers really are...and exactly why they're creating so much havoc in her love life.
DV: You have a very interesting background as an artist and musician. How long have you been writing?
LR: My mother recently went through her cedar chest and presented me with a book I started when I was 8. The spelling was predominantly phonetic, and it was about a princess who hated dresses and preferred jeans. Guess I’ve been into strong heroines for a LONG time.
DV: What gave you the idea for this series of books?
LR: I’m blaming a shrimp po-boy sandwich at the New Orleans airport. After having that for lunch, I settled down to wait for my flight and poof, the character Johnny appeared on the page. One I had him pegged, I started thinking about who his ideal woman would be and there came Persephone.
DV: Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you prefer to carefully plot out every point or to let the characters take the lead, or a combination?
LR: I used to plot every detail. Now, my process is far less structured. Generally, I know where to start and where I want to end up, so I make some bullet points/highlights to bridge the two. Then I start writing and let it flow. Seems like I get the first third done quick, then go back over it and settle into the second third, go back over everything and dive into the finale, but I don’t always write it in order, either. If another scene is in my head and ready to be written, I’ll write it. In fact, the climax of the third book, FATAL CIRCLE (shameless plug: available in July 2010) was written before the opening or anything else for that book. I’ve found that not having a rigid outline to be faithful to has left my imagination freer. At times it runs away on the page. Sure, bad ideas sneak in but it’s easy to delete them once they’re identified.
DV: Your writing is very rich in details of the rituals of magic. Are there any particular sources you like to use for research?
LR: Oh, I have bookshelves full of this stuff! I try to follow the basics—if I were writing about submarines I’d have to know all I could about submarines—but, while modern witchcraft and paganism follow a standard ritual structure, the actual performance and spell casting leaves plenty of room for imagination.
I tend to think of magic scenes like sex scenes. I mean, really, a sex scene is more than insert tab A into slot B. There’s the character’s motivations and feelings, the prelude dance(are they planning this or is it spontaneous, and the set up of the moment when they know it’s really going to happen), foreplay(or not), etc. All of that reveals who those characters are. Eventually, you have to address that tab/slot insertion, but it often isn’t spoken as simply as “they made love.” When it is, the reader may feel she’s been cheated out of knowing those things about the characters. In the same regard, “and they performed a spell,” seems like the cheap way out. Paganism is Persephone’s religion, so the spell work must mean more than a means to evoke a change. It is communing with the goddess for her. It defines her. I have to ask myself, “How can I use this moment, this spell, to create a character defining moment? Or a higher plot point/twist?”
DV: Who is your favorite character(s) in your novels and why?
LR: That’s like asking me to pick which of my boys is my favorite. I can’t do it. I can tell you that this isn’t just for the main characters, though. Some of the secondary characters stand out to me as well, like Risqué and Beau—who both appear in FATAL CIRCLE have been enormously fun to create and add in.
DV: What is your favorite paranormal creature to write about and why?
LR: OOooo. Tough question. I guess it would have to be either magic-users or vampires. Of my previous novels (unpublished) 3 had magic users in them, 1 had vampires. But that is in no means meant to diss werewolves. I’m enjoying all that Johnny can do immensely.
DV: Persephone is a big Arthurian buff, and so I suspect is her creator. What are your favorite books or tales about Arthur?
LR: Gotcha! I have to admit, I’m not very well versed in Arthur or the lore of Camelot. I’ve seen movies about it like the MISTS of AVALON miniseries, the recent KING ARTHUR one with Clive Owen, FIRST KNIGHT, even the musical CAMELOT with Richard Harris. I made her an Arthurian fan because I wanted to give her a reason to not immediately and completely discount the vampire, Menessos. Her being into Arthur, having dreams about him repeatedly throughout her life, and having this guy show up looking like he just stepped out of her dreams gave him an edge.
DV: Have you been influenced by the work of other writers in this genre or outside?
LR: Of course. When I was in my late teens and seriously thinking writing was my thing, one of the stories/series I read was the SWORD DANCER series by Jennifer Roberson. And the JHEREG series by Steven Brust. Both were written in first person and I tend to write in first person because I like how immediate it feels.
DV: Do you have any plans to write another series of books, even if they are in a different genre?
LR: The wheels in my head keep spinning, so yes I have other projects I’d like to pursue but I’m in no hurry to start. This series is so much fun!
DV: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
LR: As always, believe in yourself and work hard. Really—work at honing your skills. Start and complete a project, send it out and move on. Fresh goals will keep the learning happening. And don’t be afraid to push your heroes’ and villains’ limits, and push them out of their comfort zone. That’s when a story truly gets interesting.
DV: Linda, a very big thank you! You can learn more about Linda and her books at her website: www.WolfsbaneandAbsinthe.com.