Meow! My guest today is author LynDee Walker!
LynDee Walker is the author of six national bestselling mysteries featuring crime reporter Nichelle Clarke, beginning with the Agatha Award-nominated FRONT PAGE FATALITY (2013).
The newest book in the series, LETHAL LIFESTYLES, was published on September 27, 2016.
Before she started writing mysteries, LynDee was an award-winning journalist. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the U.S.
She adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is either playing with her children, working on her next novel, or admiring beautiful shoes she can't wear.
R: Welcome LynDee! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
LW: Thanks ROCCO! I’m a former journalist who left the newsroom when my oldest daughter was born. I’ve been interested in writing since forever, really—growing up, I always had my nose buried in a book, and I loved to swipe my mom’s crochet yarn to tie notebook paper together and make little books so I could write stories. In fifth grade, I won a local Optimist Club essay contest and my teacher called my mom to tell her how impressed she was with my paper. That bit of encouragement was all it took for me to decide I wanted to be a writer of some sort when I grew up.
R: Tell us about your “Headlines in High Heels” series. Where did this idea come from?
LW: I didn’t realize when I left reporting how much I’d miss writing. I thought it was something I liked to do, but it turned out it’s bigger than that: It’s part of who I am. It took me a few years to figure out why I had so much to be happy about, yet I was sad a lot of the time. Since I didn’t want to leave my little ones (there were two by then) to go back to the long, unpredictable hours of the news business, I wasn’t sure what to do about it—until one day I was loading my dishwasher and suddenly there was this feisty reporter in crazy shoes, talking in my head. She was locked in a car trunk, trying to figure out how she could possibly run if given the chance and worrying over her “characteristically impractical shoes” (that phrase made it all the way from that first moment to the actual on-the-shelf copy of the book).
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
LW: I do, actually, because my story is backward: I sold my first book (actually, my first six books) without an agent. But publishing is a business, and more than that, it is a shiny purple unicorn of the business world in a lot of ways, with quirks and differences that even writers who come from corporate backgrounds must learn in order to navigate it successfully. Agents perform a valuable task, navigating the business end so writers can focus on the creative one. During a discussion of all this nuance, an author friend offered to ask his agent, who he was very happy with, to call and talk with me. By the end of the day, we had the same agent, and today I’m not sure what I’d do without him. Writer friends, trust me on this one: you make art. Publishing is a business. You need someone in your corner to help you navigate it successfully.
The call about that first sale is the same for almost every writer I know: it feels like a dream. This thing you’ve wanted for so long, and then all of a sudden someone is telling you it’s happening—it’s a moment nobody forgets. My call actually came in the middle of a diaper change for my youngest, from a city my husband was visiting on business at the time, so I saw the area code and thought it was him. That’s probably the one time I ever picked up a phone expecting to hear his voice and didn’t, and was more excited about the call for the surprise.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
LW: Noise. Writing in dead quiet is difficult for me, probably because I spent years in a newsroom and then wrote my first several books surrounded by toddlers. A few years ago, I left a day early for a conference because I was on deadline and intended to hole up in my hotel room and work for one uninterrupted day. Nearly an hour into staring at my screen with maybe five words to show for it, I got up and turned the TV on the Disney Channel. Back then, I needed the kid voices in the background. These days, the 90s channel on Pandora does the trick.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
LW: Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington. I wouldn’t go back to tinker with anything—I’m a firm believer that things work out as they should, so changing the past is a lousy idea—but I’ve read and heard so much about the positive energy on the National Mall that day, I’d love to pop back and experience it.
R: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?
LW: Oh goodness. I never know how to answer this one—I do have a soft spot for SMALL TOWN SPIN, and I think several of the scenes might lend themselves well to film. The actor question is always a doozy for me, because my characters don’t look like actors in my head. But in the interest of not copping out, I’ll say I think Leslie Jones would be a fabulous Nichelle: I love her height and her smile and her infectious laugh. Joey could be played by Joe Manganiello, Kyle by Channing Tatum, and Bob maybe by Bill Murray—he needs someone who can be funny and serious. The only one I never have to think on is Grant Parker—Trevor Donovan is perfect for that role.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
LW: Ha! I’m not sure: I’m a pretty run of the mill suburban mom in real life. I suppose people who love Nichelle might be surprised to know that I can barely walk in heels.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
LW: I’m not sure I’ve ever done anything too crazy—I have on occasion woken my littles in the middle of the night for an adventure, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for. The coolest thing I’ve ever done was last summer, darling and I were in Jamaica for our 15th anniversary, and I got to go swimming with dolphins. I’ve dreamed about that forever, and it was even better in real life.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
LW: The idea that something I made up can help people through a tough time is the very most rewarding thing about this for me. Every once in a while I get an email from a reader letting me know that Nichelle helped them escape reality when reality was difficult: divorce, death of loved ones, and other various hard times, and I always lose my breath for a second. I do tend to write about some big issues, and I hope Nichelle makes people see things through a different lens, but at the end of the day, entertaining people is a pretty great gig.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
LW: I’m currently enjoying a much-needed summer break with my little ones. Between school and work and sports, we’ve all been so stressed this year I declared summer a work and anxiety free zone.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
LW: A little of both, though I definitely fall more to the pantser end of the spectrum. I start a story with an idea of where it’s going and let the rest come as I work. Here’s the thing, though: writing a book is the same amount of work no matter how you go about it. My friends who plot every detail before they write a word spend months on the front end with spreadsheets and lists. I spend months on the back end with revisions. It’s just that for me, what makes this fun is seeing what happens next: that’s why I turn on my laptop every morning and sit down to catch up with my characters. So I prefer to write first and fix later.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
LW: I’m online nearly every day at , and of course readers can find me at www.lyndeewalker.com.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
LW: Seek honest feedback on your work, and don’t take it personally. The rough draft of my first novel was just about the worst jumble of rookie mistakes anyone has ever made, but I learned about craft, I sought advice, I reworked it…and that book went on to be nominated for an Agatha Award. This business is strange and wonderful and tough at times, but if writing is a part of you and you want to be published, don’t ever stop learning. Be a better writer today than you were yesterday. Write a better book this time than you did last time. Edits are my favorite part of the process, because I learn at least one thing every time that makes me a better writer and helps me deliver better books to my readers.
R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?
LW: Meg Gardiner’s new serial killer thriller, UNSUB. I’ve heard so many great things about this book, I can’t wait to get to the beach with it!
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Night. I am not a fan of mornings.
Dog or Cat? Personally, both, though I have a slight preference for dogs because all of my cats as a child were aloof and slightly mischievous. My husband is a definite dog person, though, so we’ve always been a dog household.
Beach or Pool? Beach for relaxing, pool for actual swimming.
Steak or salad? Salad. I’m less and less of a carnivore these days.
Favorite Drink? Iced tea lemonade, or for festive things, a good margarita.
Favorite Book? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I loved the way Rowling tied it all up for her fans.
Favorite TV Series? Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite Movie? Depends on my mood: Die Hard is a watch-anytime one, as are Mrs. Winterbourne, The Sandlot, Pretty Woman, and Ghostbusters.
Favorite Actor: Denzel Washington
Favorite Actress: Julia Roberts
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii if I have to pick, but I’d love to see both someday.
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be: Christopher Pike. His books were such a big part of my adolescence, I would love a chance to thank him in person.
If I had just one wish, it would be: world peace sounds hokey, but it’s pretty close to right. I wish people could stop focusing on what makes us different, because there’re so many more ways that we’re the same.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be: honestly? Nobody. I love my family, my home, my friends, and my life, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.
You can find her at: Facebook at lyndeewalkerbooks, twitter @LynDeeWalker, and online at www.lyndeewalker.com
LynDee will send a signed copy of one title in the Nichelle Clarke series to a commenter. US addresses only, please.
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, Sept. 3!