Linda Palmer has stopped by to answer a few questions and give away a copy of her book, Killer Mousse, which I reviewed yesterday and raved about. Review here. I hope you’ll check out her two websites to learn more about her two mystery series. http://www.lindapalmermysteries.com/ and http://www.dellacooks.com/. Enter to win after reading Linda’s interview.
1. You have held a wide range of jobs, from VP at TriStar, to wildlife photographer, to screen writer, and finally author. What made you start writing books?
I always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was 9. Some years ago — when I was young and didn’t know much about the craft of writing — I wrote two novels. Miraculously, they were published. They didn’t sell many copies, but I have one of each on my book shelf. The first was RUNAWAY!, by Linda Weintraub (which was my married name at the time.) The second was STARSTRUCK, by Linda Palmer. With all of my heart, I wish I had had an editor to guide me, or that I knew more back then. By the time I began to write novels again, in 2002, I’d studied the craft on my own, and then with a wonderful instructor at UCLA. (I was teaching screen writing there at the time, so one night a week I was an instructor, and another night during the same week I was a student.)
2. You teach screenwriting at UCLA Extension. What is the most important thing you try yo teach these aspiring writers?
I taught screen writing for about 12 years, but then I began writing novels full time, so the head of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program switched me to teaching novel-writing. Whichever of those two disciplines, I told the people enrolled in my classes two things: 1. Don’t think of yourself as “student” or as “aspiring” — you are writers. A writer is defined by dedication to writing, not by whether or not one has yet sold anything. And, 2: “The most important thing that a writer needs — after talent and the willingness to study the craft — is the absolute refusal to face facts.” I say that with humor, but I mean it. People tell writers (mostly they hear this from friends and family) that there are so many people writing that they don’t have a chance. Ridiculous, I say. Don’t pay attention to that. Keep writing.
3. Do you have any routines or rituals when you write?
Not really. I must have a big mug of coffee, and I must feed the pets and give them fresh water. I like to write early in the morning, when the world is quiet. I get up every morning at 5:15 AM. I’ll write until about noon. During the last month of finishing a book, when it feels like demonic possession, I get up at 4:15. Sometimes then I’ll write at night, too, if I can’t let go of the story. When I type “the end” I collapse for a few days and just vegetate. Then I’ll read for pleasure, have lunches or dinners with friends. Normal living. Until it’s time to start writing a new book.
4. Who are your favorite writers, both books and screenplays?
My favorite authors are Jane Austen, Vladimir Nobakov, Anthony Trollope, James Hilton, Talbot Mundy, Sinclair Lewis, Balzac, Harper Lee, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner. (I must sound very scattered because there’s no theme here, except for exquisite writing.) As for novels of suspense and thrillers, my favorite authors are Joe Wambaugh, Robert Crais (except I hate his protagonist’s taste in women), Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Donald E. Westlake, John LeCarre, Rex Stout, John D. MacDonald, Ross MacDonald, Ed McBain. I can’t think of any favorite screen writers, but I there are playwrights whose work I adore: George Bernard Shaw, Alan Ackybourn, Richard Wilbur (his — and only his) translations of Moliere, early Tennessee Williams, and, of course, Shakespeare. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some authors and playwrights, and will kick myself when I remember names in the middle of the night.
5. Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who fight big challenges. For example, while I don’t put her work on my list of favorites, I have great admiration for the late Jacqueline Susann as a person because while she was promoting her books so vigorously she was also secretly undergoing exhausting treatment for cancer. Later, when I was on book tours, and began to feel tired, I shook myself out of it by reminding myself that not only was I considerably younger than Ms. Susann, but I was healthy, too. The wonderful Carson McCullers had terrible medical challenges, but she still wrote with such beauty! I used to joke to myself that I wanted to write like Carson McCullers and sell like Sidney Sheldon. I don’t mean that as an insult to Sidney Sheldon. Not at all! I was a great fan of his books, and know how very kind and generous he was to new or undiscovered writers. He will always inspire me because of how hard he worked on his books. He truly wanted to give his readers the best possible entertainments he could, and he never stopped one sentence short of the best he could do.
6. I love quotes. Do you have a favorite?
My favorite quote is “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” I’ve never come across a better guide for living.
7. What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading the last novel by Donald E. Westlake: “Get Real.” It’s up to his usual high standard of story-telling and great descriptions.
8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?
What a wonderful question: No doubt about it: Elizabeth Bennett (later Mrs. Darcy) of “Pride and Prejudice.”
9. And finally, what are you working on now?
At the moment, I’m writing a new book that (until now) only my agent knows about. It’s a novel of suspense, with a male protagonist, told in third person. It’s a big change for me because for the last seven years I’ve been writing one-book-a-year for Berkley Prime Crime, for a total of 2 different series. When I told my agent about my concept for the novel, and about my new protagonist, he loved the idea. But I’m working without a net, so to speak, because my agent can’t sell a book until it’s written. At the moment I have 76 pages: 10 chapters. I’m 2 pages in to Chapter 11, but I don’t consider that I have pages until I’ve written and rewritten them. Then I move forward.
Thank you so much, Linda!
Linda Palmer books-Daytime Mystery series- Love is Murder, Love Her to Death, Love You Madly, Kiss of Death
Melinda Wells books -Della Cooks Mysteries- Killer Mouse, Death Takes the Cake, The Proof is in the Pudding (to be released 02/10)
Okay, to enter to win Killer Mousse
1. Leave a comment for Linda on this post (1 entry)
2. Leave a comment for me on my review (1 entry)
3. Post about it on your blog and/or Twitter and let me know (1-2 entries)
And here is the exciting bonus. If I get 100 comments on these two posts Linda will give away the first TWO books of this series, Killer Mousse and Death Takes the Cake!
I’ll ‘draw’ for a winner on September 15th.