Welcome to Rita’s Bower where readers gather to meet our favorite or soon-to-be favorite authors while sipping delicious drinks and savoring decadent treats. Serve yourself a plate and drink, settle back in a comfortable chair, prop up your feet, and welcome our guest author, Linda Swift.
I am very pleased to interview Linda. In addition to being a multi-published author across genres, Linda has a fascinating biography. She has achieved far more than we can discuss in one short visit.
You’ve accomplished so much as a veteran educator, prolific writer, and dedicated wife and mother. Could you tell us about yourself?
Thank you for inviting me here today, Rita. I don’t consider my bio fascinating but it is
varied. I was a wife and mother first, then attended college after my children were in school. I became a remedial reading teacher, worked with the learning disabled, was a school counselor, and a psychometrist. In fourteen years, I worked in seven schools in three states.
Then I left public education to become a professional writer. At first, I bemoaned the fact that I had majored in elementary education and psychology instead of English Literature, but now I realize my background gives me a better understanding for my character-driven stories. I’ve been married to the same man forever and we’ve been mobile forever. He helps me with all things technical and even entertains with live keyboard music for my book signings. Who could ask for more?
We live in our native state of Kentucky and spend winters in Florida. Our son, daughter, and son-in-law live in Nashville so we get to spend time with them when we travel between our homes. They also give me encouragement, support, and technical help. My son-in-law has made videos for several of my books which can be viewed on YouTube.
You are very fortunate to have that kind of support. With so much going on in your life, how do you manage to write?
Truthfully? I’m getting very little writing done at the moment. Promotion is taking the lion’s share of my time and I find this frustrating. I’d love to have the option of taking a hiatus of at least three months and writing the sequel to my Civil War book. I’ve had the story in my mind far too long.
You are referring to your critically-acclaimed book, This Time Forever. Can you share your thoughts on the book you’ve called “The book of my heart.”
A book about the Civil War was always in my subconscious mind. It was part of my Southern heritage, I think. Then I lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee for four years and the whole area is like an historical museum. I walked on Chickamauga battlefield, gazed down from Lookout Mountain, and touched the weathered tombstones on Missionary Ridge. Later, I lived in Oswego, New York and got a feel for the contrast in areas. And slowly, the characters evolved and took on life and told their stories. I wanted my book to show the war from both sides of the conflict. Gratefully, the reviewers understood what I was trying to do. This is the book I’d like to be remembered for because I know in my heart that this is the best book I will ever write.
You put your heart and soul into everything you write. You are published in both poetry and prose. How does your inspiration, preparation, and mechanics differ for poetry as opposed to prose? Which is easier to write? Which do you prefer writing?
I consider poetry an expression of my deepest emotions and I tend to write my poems in moments of joy or sadness. For this reason, I find it very difficult to read my poems aloud to other people. I have enough knowledge of poetry forms to “get by” but I don’t consider myself a professional poet even though I have a book of prose poems and a haiku collection now in print. I don’t work at revising my poems as serious poets do. So I suppose poetry is the easier for me to write.
Fiction has always been my true love. I used to prefer to write contemporary but my preference now is historical. I love writing complex subplots that are woven into the main story. I don’t spend a lot of time on what characters are wearing or what they have for breakfast. I like to tell the reader what is in their heads and hearts. I do research the time period I’m writing about until I feel I can speak with some authority but I don’t have to tell all the facts I’ve learned in order to do that. I seldom do a lot of revisions to my work because I revise “in my head” as I write. However, I have learned to work with an editor and make “seamless” changes when necessary. I actually enjoy the challenge of doing this. Even though prose is the more difficult than poetry to write, it doesn’t seem like work because I take pleasure in it.
Like your current book, Maid of the Midlands, a historical romance that is set in one of my favorite periods. Elizabethan England,. You very effectively placed your hero and heroine in the middle of one of the most famous rivalries in history. What is the story behind the story?
I lived in England in 1999-2000 and I visited many castles where Mary Queen of Scots was a “guest.” Regardless of whether it was better for England to be Catholic or Protestant, Mary’s life was a series of wrong choices and personal tragedies that evoked sympathy. The saddest to me was that she never gave up hope that she would be received at the English Court by Queen Elizabeth, see her son, and eventually be set free. I wanted to write a story about this time period and give Queen Mary a minor non-speaking role, but she had other ideas and almost took over the book.
Mary, Queen of Scots was a very complicated woman but you made her a multi-dimensional and sympathetic character. How much research did you need to do for Maid of the Midlands?
I read both fiction and non-fiction to write this story. I kept some of the speech patterns of the times. I know most authors use modern-day language when writing past century stories but a few that I admire do not, so I chose to do likewise. In Yorkshire, to this day the natives say “me” for “my” as “me da” for “my dad.” I am not a scholar and I have presumed to depict the sixteenth-century dialect, so I hope I will be forgiven by my English friends.
Will there be a sequel to Maid of the Midlands?
There is already. Mistress of Huntleigh Hall is the story of the three children of Matilda, the Maid of the Midlands and her beloved Jondalar. The setting is Yorkshire County in 1605 and again, I have inserted a real historical character. The story involves the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes has a minor role as a cousin to Lord Talbot of Huntleigh Hall.
I'm looking forward to reading it. What are your plans for after Mistress of Huntleigh Hall?
I will admit that the baby boy born to one of Matilda’s daughters is growing up (in my mind). As the son of a poor seaman and unwed mother, adopted and reared by his aunt, the possibilities for a story are nagging at the corners of my mind.
You are published with the New York publishers, epubs and Indie publishers. Could you share your experiences with aspiring authors and interested readers?
I had only three books with a New York publisher in the mid-1990s as the mid-list authors were shrinking so I don’t think I can compare what working for an NY pub today would be like. So much new technology has been added that would make my experience obsolete. I had an agent and had little contact with an editor, no input on book covers, no opportunity to revise, only a chance to correct minor errors in galleys. An advance of a few thousand dollars was, for me, the greatest difference in NY pubs and digital pubs.
I’ve had contracts with digital publishers since 2007. I have had books and short stories with seven epubs for the last two years, and just recently withdrew a book from the one who didn’t do prints. I’ve been pleased with many aspects of each. Most are fast to respond, release books on time, and ship print books quickly. I’ve had many wonderful editors to work with and cover artists who strive to produce a beautiful cover that I’m happy with. My greatest complaint is that print books are priced too high compared to mass market books. I understand the necessity for POD (print-on-demand) books as epubs don’t have huge print runs. But I do quite a few book signings and this issue has led me to seek an independent publisher.
Indie pubs can offer both ebooks and prints for less. An author can have more input on editing, book covers, release dates, and have books priced right for selling. Most, including mine, make their books available through the same distributors the digital publishers use. Unfortunately, none of the chain bookstores that I have contacted are willing to stock books that are not returnable if unsold.
There is one other option I haven’t elected to try…self-publication. I don’t consider myself technically capable of that avenue and really like having an editor and cover artist involved with my books. For now, I’m focusing on Indie publication. It meets my goals for all the genres I write. For other authors, different choices may work better.
It appears that there are many options available to readers and authors. With the advent of social media, authors and readers have become closer. How can readers contact or follow you?
You can find me on Twitter and on Facebook
Thank you for visiting and sharing your life and thoughts with us.
Thank you for inviting me, Rita. It’s been fun talking with you and your guests today. I always enjoy any event with CoffeeTime Romance and getting to meet new readers and authors.
It was a pleasure to visit with you, Linda. Drop by and visit anytime. The door to Rita’s Bower is always open.
Happy reading, dear guests, until our next gathering,