Saturday, November 6, 2010

Research? Thy name is author Linda Windsor

Pepper here - GOOOD Mornin' and welcome to a great interview with author, Linda Windsor. Pull up your laptop or desktop, and grab a cinnamon roll. The Irish creme hot Cocoa is in honor of Linda.

Linda,

Thank you so much for being our guest at The Writers Alley. I’m tickled to introduce people to your writing and allow those who’ve read your work to brag. What I like best about you is that you kind of defy genre niches. Does that make sense? You jump around within the choices of genre and produce some outstanding stories. From your latest novel, The Healer, which is kind of an Authurian-esque tale all the way up to your contemporary novels like For Pete’s Sake (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE), you introduce sweeping stories of romance and second chances.

I think you may have a thing for Celtic/Irish history too, eh? ;-)

Also, visit her website to learn more about her books and see her fabulous book trailer for The Healer at http://www.lindawindsor.com/


So….
Can you share with us a little about your writing journey?


As you pointed out, Pepper, I tend to jump around. I started writing the secular historicals and contemporary romances in 1990, sixteen in all, and in 1999, I switched to the inspirational market. I was a little like Jonah going to Ninevah. I was happy where I was, but when God calls, one will go or spend time in a whale. I spent 4 years in the whale’s belly before I realized God thought I could do it, even if I didn’t. I just finished my 30th novel and haven’t looked back. You see, I thought I wasn’t holy enough to write Christian fiction and the characters I’d read about had been too good to be real for me. When I found out I could do flawed characters struggling with their faith like me, well, I knew I had the qualifications after all.

What is one of your favorite parts of creating imaginary worlds and stories?

I love research. When I teach writing seminars, I contend that if one does research well enough, it will write the story. I am a history nut, so that goes double with historicals. But even with the contemporary novels, I get into the characters’ careers and communities to see what is actually going on there. This gives me something to weave my romance and spiritual journey into. The characters will face the same challenges as real life people in the same situations. I love it when I find journals or books written by professionals about their experiences in their trade. It really goes toward developing a well rounded character and believable story.

How much does ‘real life’ play a part in the creation of your novels?

I think I just answered that. One of my favorite novels was based on the story of an American lady doctor who went to on an eco-vacation in the Peruvian Amazon and fell in love with the natives. So she opened a clinic. In addition, I found travel stories written by a travel/nature photographer and his experiences in the same area. Between the two, I had nailed life in a medical clinic in the Amazon (the good, the bad and the ugly) so well, I had people asking me how long I’d served on mission down there. NOT EXACTLY EDEN was the result, jungle-medical romance with humor.

The Arthurian references and characters in HEALER are based on historical traditions and the Arthur is a documented one. The reader learns that Arthur was a title and hence, there was more than one. Mine was the only one whose actual name was Arthur and held the same title. The same went for merlin as a title too, explaining how both characters would have had to have lived 150 years to have done all that was attributed to them.

The Hebrew-Irish Davidic and British Arimathean apostolic bloodlines being matched by the Celtic church to produce arthurs, merlins and queens to spread Christianity and preserve it is also based on historical traditions found in my research. So the next step, having the marriage of a hero and heroine of each bloodline manipulated by the church after their last effort resulted in a clan war, launched the plot and conflict in HEALER. Their clans are still at war and the prophecy is that the heroine will divide the hero’s house and bring about a peace beyond their wicked ken. One isn’t prone to wed into the clan that has been hunting her to kill her, while her own clan seeks her to lead them like a warrior queen against the superior enemy. She’s a healer, not a warrior. And she’d lived in hiding for twenty years over this botched matchmaking.

Are you a pantster, plotter, or planner? :-) In other words, what’s the general gist of your writing process?

I am a PLAN-tser. I do my research, come up with a concept for characters and conflicts in keeping with that era (or in contemporaries, a setting, career or situation), and write the introductory chapters to launch the story and introduce the characters and the problems. At some point, the characters take over and drive the story forward toward resolution of the plot, relationship and spiritual conflicts, although the resolutions aren’t always what they expect. In my Irish Celtic trilogy DEIRDRE, the hero expects to secure and rule his own kingdom and believes the heroine is the key to his goal. The heroine expects to rescue her brother. That doesn’t happen either. But the end is better than what they’d hoped for.

When you write your stories, do you have a goal as a Christian writer to explicitly introduce your Christian worldview, or do you try to be more subtle about it. Let the characters and the story make the truth plain?

The spiritual journey of the characters is an integral part of who they are. Their beliefs are challenged and sometimes changed by the circumstances. They are flawed and struggling and will move forward and backslide as life and love come at them. So it is reflective of every man and woman’s struggle. In secular fiction, it’s an inner conflict. In Christian fiction, the inner conflict can have spiritual implications or repercussions. Because I write happy endings, there is always hope at the end and that hope will often stem from some change in faith view, a new perspective, though not necessarily a conversion.

For those of us who are newer on this writer’s journey, what advice would you like to give?

I’m always asked this. To succeed in this career, one must be pit bull stubborn and thick-skinned as a rhinoceros. The only way to reach publication is to keep writing. No writing is wasted. Each attempt should be better than the last. Rejections are like footprints in the sand. If you don’t see them, you’re not moving forward toward your goal. Read constantly, all genres, and note what styles appeal to you, incorporate what ‘clicks’ and grow with it. Don’t write something because it’s selling. If your heart isn’t in it, it will show. Heart is what gives a project that sparkle that puts it ahead of others.

Case in point. I wrote WEDDING BELL BLUES, the first in the Piper Cove Chronicles, after my husband died. I was emotionally flat and although the book was well-paced, humorous, and the conflicts were all resolved satisfactorily, it doesn’t have near the sparkle that its sequel FOR PETE’S SAKE had. The passion was missing. A reader can see the difference.

Are there any tools that you find invaluable to writing your novels?

Not to belabor the point, but research. Know what you are writing about. Be excited about ‘sharing’ what you’ve learned by incorporating it into your characters and story. It will show. Use real life examples in your stories. I just endorsed a book where a woman baptized a cat in medieval Germany during the Inquisition era. It was based on a true happening. And once in a while, readers will think you are a sheer genius for coming up with that idea, when you’re just repeating real history. But face it. Is there anything more bizarre or fascinating than real life?

Okay, you’re probably going to hate this question but I love to ask it. Do you have a favorite character and/or novel you’ve written? Why?


No brainer. HEALER, my most recent, is my favorite novel to date. Why? Because it not only entertains the reader, but it teaches. It taught me more about the Arthurian and early church traditions, building on things I’d learned in my Irish Celtic series about what pagans believed and why they accepted Christ. Today Christians deal with New Age, which is really creation-worship revisited. The information revealed in my Celtic books enabled me to reach my daughter, who was stalked, assaulted and turned against God and to Wicca or white witchcraft when she was in college. It helped me to understand why Wicca was so attractive, what it was about, and how to build a bridge on common ground to Christ. If I never sold another book, this research and God’s love bringing my daughter back to Christ is reward enough. God led me to knowledge that helped me reach out to her with history, when she wouldn’t listen to Scripture. A history that led her to a better understanding of Scripture.

What’s on the horizon for you and your novels? What’s next from Linda Windsor’s laptop? :-)

THIEF, the second Brides of Alba (ancient Scotland) book is on its way to press. While I deal with healing and nature magic or proto-science versus dark magic in HEALER, astrology comes into play in THIEF. No, I’m not advocating everyone get their astrological charts done! But I have learned how the heavens declare God’s glory—and Jesus’s—to ancient man and how God used/uses the heavens to teach and guide mankind to this day. It’s a calendar for life, a guide to the weather. It influences life on earth, but does not dictate it. Astrology is probability and statistics. Astronomy is science. And God, the master mathematician and scientist who created both, is the only certainty. The pagan heroine is a thief who finds hope in this Creator God and my hero, the villain in HEALER, finds a second chance when he follows the old Scots’ proverb, “Love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self.” All he has to do is convince the precocious Sorcha to be rescued so he can do his good deed.

So now, my mind is spinning on REBEL, book three, about the third of the O’Byrne brothers, a merlin-scientist-priest and his champion’s daughter, the rebellious Kella, attendant to Gwenhifar. A search for her missing father and a mission to hide Arthur’s holy genealogy from the Roman church will take them both into enemy Pictland and deep into the plot to end Arthur’s reign forever. Oh, and they’ll fall in love. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. But I’m up to my neck in research. The rest is up to them.

Thanks so much for being willing to do this, Linda. Wow!! What a treat!


Thank you for having me and giving me the chance to share my excitement and passion for writing and research. ‘Tis the bard in me, I fear.

Okay everyone, don't forget to stop by Linda's website and check out her books - http://www.lindawindsor.com/


3 comments:

Sherrinda said...

Oh my, I have to say I LOVED the Celtic trilogy! LOVED IT! I first got them from the library and read them several times. They just transported me into such a great world, full of action, mystery, and love. Soooo good!

Thanks for a look into the writing world of Linda, Pepper!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Great interview. Linda, I have to be honest I have never read your books, but as a historical lover I'm very intrigued with your Arthurian novels in particular.

Casey said...

Lovely interview ladies!! Thanks so much for being here Linda. I like Julia, hadn't heard of your fiction until Pepper introduced us to it on her blog. I think For Pete's Sake looks like a great story and if Pep likes, I probably would too. :)

Thanks again Linda!