Contest and Interview with Linda Robertson
ETA: CONTEST CLOSED!!!
In anticipation of the release of my debut novel, I've been running a series of contests over at my blog, Organized Chaos. This month, Countdown: June! Contest will happen right here at the League. I've got an interview with a great lady and fellow-debut author, Linda Robertson, whose first novel, VICIOUS CIRCLE, releases June 30th from Juno/Pocket.
Here's how the contest part works: Comment and ask questions. It's that simple. Linda will pop in a few times a day to answer your questions, so ask away! All comments and questions count an entry into our Prize Drawing. One entry per participant, but you can comment as often as you like. The comments section will remain open today through Monday morning, June 29th. So you've got all weekend!
What's the Prize, you ask? An autographed copy of VICIOUS CIRCLE, to one lucky, randomly selected participant. And as in prior contests, the winner of this one will be put in the pot for an early copy drawing for THREE DAYS TO DEAD (to be held in the fall).
Witches and werewolves don't mix...
Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full--even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home, and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered...and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline.
Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends--werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6'2" leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that while their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.
Welcome to the League, Linda!
--You play piano, the electric guitar, were in a hard rock band, and are an artist. How did writing a novel fall into the mix?
It’s all a kind of story-telling to me. People connect to music, art and books because they convey and evoke emotions. Art uses shadow and light, color and shape, but each person determines how that visual scene makes them react. In music, tone is set by the key and tempo, and using melody and harmony like phrasing, the beat like punctuation, it tells a story, too. Writing is the most direct—using words—but it leaves the art in your mind, letting you fill in the scene as you see it. They’re different tools. Put ‘em all together and you have movies.
--Had you always wanted to write and publish?
My mom recently dug out of her cedar chest a couple of “books” I wrote when I was 8 and 13, and neither was part of any school assignment, so I guess I’ve always had the writing bug. My senior year of high school, though, it became a firm goal when my Creative Writing teacher took notice. He offered to take some of my stories home and read/edit them over a weekend. His unexpected encouragement really cemented it—in a way that family and friends’ couldn’t.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I was on the hunt for a certain kind of book, a book with a credible, admirable female heroine. Since I wasn’t finding it, and since I tend to loathe the princess in need of rescue, I started writing them for myself.
--How did Vicious Circle and heroine Persephone Alcmedi come to be?
In 2004, at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans—pre-Katrina—I was waiting on a plane and—gasp!—bored. So I kind of fell into day-dreaming. Johnny came to me first; guess I was digging into my rock-n-roll past. As I recall, Persephone was his idea. I know writer’s often talk about their characters “interacting” in the creative process and I totally see how that could lean toward a psychotic diagnosis, but it’s true! That’s the way the Muse works with me. Of course it could’ve been something in the airport Po’Boy I ate.
--What was the publishing process like?
First, I’ve been chasing this dream for twenty years. Trying to get the right work in the right editor’s hands at the right time, for me, was like trying to get three 7’s to line up on a slot machine. I’m sure an agent would have made a big difference. That said, I heard about Juno Books, and had met and talked with editor Paula Guran at a World Fantasy Convention or two, so I sent her a submission/partial. She asked for the manuscript (SQUEE), but in the end she sent it back with a firm no and reasons why. Studying the text again with an eye on her reasons for rejecting it, I aimed to address those issues. Among other changes, characters were cut and, because of that, the ending had to be drastically rewritten. It was painful, but I did it. I asked if I could resubmit, she said yes. This time, she accepted it! (Let me say that a good attitude, a sense of trust in the editor, and being willing to work on changes seems to have served me well.) About mid-way the process, Juno teamed up with Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. That affected the time line and the initial plans, but it was unquestionably a great opportunity so there were no complaints from me!
--Who are some of your favorite authors/books, and how have they influenced you as a writer?
My adoration of books started with The Black Stallion picture book in elementary school because of the art; it lead to a “horse book” phase, followed by a “kid mysteries” phase. Then I moved into fantasy. I read the Dragonlance saga, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Fred Saberhagen. If there was a sword or a cool creature on the cover, I was reading it. I loved Steven Brust’s Jhereg series. All fine stuff…but lacking that female heroine. Then Jennifer Roberson’s Sword Dancer series hooked me! Here was the strong female character I’d been searching for! Though told from a male point of view, the story was about the heroine, Del—a sword dancer who kicked the guys asses. (I may be wrong but I think in those days this was the only way to have a strong female: tell it from an unquestionably strong man’s POV and have him come to see her as an equal.) I’d found few sword-slinging heroines, and none of them none struggled as hard as Del—who earned it. She felt real because it wasn’t easy for her. But she was determined to achieve her goals. I wanted to be Del. And I want to give a shout out to Tanya Huff who graciously gave me the fantastic blurb for the cover. Her Blood Books have great, well drawn and believable characters, and the plots have kept me up late turning pages! And Victory is one tough lady!!
--What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Persephone’s story continues in Hallowed Circle, coming Dec. 29, 2009. It also features Don Sipley’s art on the cover (love it!) The tentatively titled Fatal Circle is scheduled for June 2010. I’ll be at Context in Columbus, Ohio the end of August, and at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia in September. I’m also doing a book signing with other fine Cleveland-area authors on Oct. 10 at Joseph Beth’s. (There’s a good question…ask me who else is going to be there….)
--Five Quickies for you:
Outline or No Outline?
A very basic, very rough outline.
Vampire or Werewolf?
If a bi-weekly schedule rotating between both isn’t admissible, I’ll take the werewolf.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
I can spew useless geekery/trivia from both. (*Episodes 4,5,6, respectively. Not so much on Episodes 1,2,3. I watched those only to see Hayden Christensen.)
Hard taco or soft taco?
Aw hell, gimme Chimichangas!!!!
And most importantly: Any good (*cough*) stories from your hard rock band days that you can share?
Hell, yeah!! My senior year of high school my almost all-girl band was the house band for a local bar. A former moose lodge, we had a practice room upstairs which meant: we had our own key’s man!!!! Being house band guaranteed us at least one gig weekend a month, we had first dibs on being the opening act for the low-ranking touring bands that came through, and had the dubious requirement that on Thursdays we played a set before the strippers started their show. I was 17, the drummer was 16. The strippers couldn’t take the stage until we’d both vacated the building!
And, best of all, we once opened for a band called Precious Metal. (We were called Corsair, proving I thought pirates were cool back in the 80’s.) This was the only show my dad ever came to. It was my mom’s second show. I convinced my writing teacher to bring his wife and come out. I’d even gotten in three kids from school to see us. During the opening song, as I sang back-up, the mic zapped my lip hard. When the song ended, as the singer was talking to the crowd getting them all worked up, I tried to ask the roadies off stage if they had seen an arc. They—in some kind of inebriated state—couldn’t understand me. Frustrated, I tried to explain and grabbed the mic. Bad thing. Electricity jolted through me, setting me on my ass! I couldn’t let go. I’ve been told sparks were flying off my guitar’s pick-ups. You know that “scream” when you suck in air in a gasp? I had the mic right in front of me and I was screaming like that. The sound squealed out of the PA system and I had everyone’s attention. Luckily, there were two folks there (out of a hundred or so) who understood why the guitarist was on the floor, screaming. They stormed the stage and yanked the mic away. We took a ten minute break, then came back out and, because of the electricity drama, we re-started our set and played AC/DC’s Live Wire first. The next day, I skipped school (yeah, it had been a school night). Classmates left at lunch to come over and tell me there was a rumor at school that I’d died.
Comments and questions are encourage (especially if you want to win!), so have at it!