Meow, my guest this week is author Linda Wiken!
- Welcome Linda! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! I’ve had a variety of interesting and fun jobs in my working life - starting in journalism, then advertising, with a stint in community education, and finally as a mystery book seller before turning to writing full time.
- Tell us a bit about your new Dinner club series and book one, TOASTING UP TROUBLE. Where did the idea for this series come from?
I’m a closet foodie. I admit it! So, when my agent asked if I had any ideas for a second series, I dug deep, looked at my several shelves of cookbooks, and eventually the dinner club was born.
- AT one time you owned a mystery bookstore. Is that where your love of mysteries emanates from?
Actually, I owned the store because I love mysteries. My affair with mystery books started at an early age. Think Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Ginny Gordon to name a few…right through to Agatha Christie.
- Your alter ego writes the Ashton Corners mysteries. Tell us a bit about that.
Although that series has ended with book #5, LAW AND AUTHOR, I enjoyed writing it particularly because it was about a mystery book club. And you can just imagine how much trouble they could get into, what with all the ‘experience’ they had solving crimes between the covers every month! The seven members of the club grew into great friends over the course of the series and they also became my close friends. A popular feature in the series is the book lists for each member at the back of the five books. It suggests possible new authors for the readers of the series.
- You’ve held down many jobs, including one as a volunteer on the Ottawa Police Force. What was the most exciting part of that job?
At one point I was writing a weekly column on crime stats for the local newspaper. It was pretty interesting reading through the officers’ reports each week. But I have to admit, the night I was involved in doing overnight surveillance at a car dealership that had reported several previous break-ins, really got the adrenalin pumping.
- How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters, in particular the main one because she sets the tone for the series. I go through her life with her, getting to know her family and her memorable experiences growing up. As I’m writing her, she’s letting me in on more of her thoughts and reactions to the world around her.
- How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I used to be a pantser until my editor at Berkley Prime Crime wanted a synopsis. From there, it seemed natural to do an outline and I’ve found that’s the best way for me to write an entire book. It’s not written in stone, and the ending is often quite different from the outline, however, it’s a good guide to kick start me when I’m feeling puzzled.
- Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Hard question to answer. If the plot doesn’t hold together or lacks suspense or interest, the readers won’t feel it’s been worth their while reading. However, if the character isn’t the right combination of traits to engage the reader, it doesn’t matter how outstanding the plot is because the reader may just abandon the book.
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Promotion is the biggest challenge. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to do it thoroughly and even if there were, I’m clueless when it comes to some of the newer means of social media. Building an audience is the lifeline for authors. No pressure there! What inspires me is the kick I get out of the actual writing process and that keeps me going, even when I feel I’m lacking in the promotion end.
- Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Be nice to your best friends! That’s my advice. Enough said.
- What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m writing the third Dinner Club Mystery, MARINATING IN MURDER, which will be out in 2018. The second, ROUX THE DAY, is in the hopper and will be published March, 2017. I’m also preparing to pitch another cozy series. Shhh. Plus, I have lots of ideas hopping around in my brain. I’m going to try to do something with each one of them…some day.
- What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I write weekdays, afternoons for at least 1000 words or as long as it takes, if it’s going gangbusters. I try to take the weekends off but that doesn’t always happen. Mornings are devoted to the business of writing – emails, websites, social media – and also a time when I fit in fitness classes and appointments, those real life annoyances that do appear.
- If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
Poemcrazy – Susan Wooldridge
The School of Essential Ingredients - Erica Bauermeister
The first two would be for inspiration; the third to keep me happy.
- What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Never give up! Don’t give up in re-writing and polishing that manuscript. Don’t give up in trying to find an agent and/or publisher.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Bought a mystery bookstore!
- What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I wanted to be a police officer.
- What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What is the best part about being an author?
Hearing positive reactions from readers. A writer does write first of all for herself for the pleasure of writing. But if there are no readers, then it remains a very solitary task. And, when a writer hears that a reader enjoys the book, and in particular will tell others about it, then the writing circle is complete!
- Where can we learn more about you and your books?
My books are available in mass market format and as e-books at independent bookstores and the big box ones in the U.S. and Canada. Visit me at Facebook: Linda Wiken, author; and Erika Chase, author; at Twitter @LWiken and @erika_chase; and at: www.lindawiken.com and www.erikachase.com
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat – easy because I have two Siamese! Never cross a Siamese!! (Rocco: Or a tubby tuxedo!)
Beach or Pool? Beach – love the untamed ocean
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Espresso
Favorite Book? Depends on my mood.
Favorite TV Series? Vera
Favorite Movie? Chocolat
Favorite Actor: Colin Firth
Favorite Actress: Helen Mirren
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Dirty Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Sally Armstrong. I so admire her as a journalist, an activist and a mentor
If I had just one wish, it would be_ to be able to split myself in two and live in two different places at once.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one. Really! I like being me and although there are a lot of things I’d do differently and choices I should have made, I’m happy right now.
Find out more about her at:
at Facebook: Linda Wiken, author, and Erika Chase, author;
at Twitter @LWiken, and @erika_chase;
I also blog regularly at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.com and Killer Characters.com
Linda will give away a signed copy of TOASTING UP TROUBLE. Leave a comment about your favorite food in the comments section! Winner will be selected by random.org. Contest closes midnight, October 1!