Hey, hey, two blog posts in less than a week, whaaaaat?! Must be the holiday spirit ;)
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a Bookish People interview, so I’m really excited to let y’all in on this one. If you follow me on Instagram or FB, you saw the cover reveal of my friend Rachel Linden’s third novel, releasing next year, THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF BEES, and today you’ll get a chance to get to know her a little better! I’m excited to officially meet her in person in January when we’ll both be at the ALA (American Library Association) Midwinter conference.
Here’s her interview…
1. Give us a quick overview of the book(s) you’ve written.
I write women’s fiction novels about hope, courage and connection. All my stories feature strong female protagonists facing big life challenges, exotic international or Pacific Northwest settings, and social justice themes woven throughout.
Ascension of Larks is about a documentary photographer who loses the only man she’s ever loved and must embrace an unexpected life on remote San Juan Island. Becoming the Talbot Sisters details estranged twin sisters learning to be every day brave on an unexpected journey across Central Europe as they face issues like infertility, surrogacy and sex trafficking. The Enlightenment of Bees, (available July 2019) is the story of an idealistic Seattle baker. When her carefully planned life crumbles, she embarks on an international humanitarian trip to find her place in the world. It explores the sweet spot in life where our passions meet the world’s great need.
2. What’s the hardest or best criticism you’ve received, either after your book was published or as you were editing, revising, or getting feedback?
I studied writing and literature for a semester at Oxford and my tutor Nigel, a brilliant, eccentric poet who wore felt slippers with curled up toes, gave me the best criticism. He told me a piece I wrote was technically adequate, but that he could tell I hadn’t put my heart and soul into it. “Storm yourself!” he urged me. “Stir up those deep passions in your soul and put more of your inner self on the page.” That was the best criticism/advice I’ve ever received! Now I try hard to really engage my own heart and soul in the stories I write. Thanks, Nigel!
3. Funniest (or best or worst) thing that happened during a book signing or book tour?
I totally forgot my grown up nude high heels for my first ever TV interview! I was just wearing some normal brown leather walking flats. I tucked my feet under the couch and hoped the camera couldn’t see them!
4. Describe your writing process. Is it orderly, scheduled, daily? Erratic, middle-of-the-night, gimme-a-piece-of-paper now? Or something in between?
I have a toddler and preschooler, so my process is a bit harried and erratic. I brainstorm while doing normal life stuff –laundry and making mac-n-cheese - then buckle down and write like a fiend when I have a quiet hour or two. I’d describe my current process as a mixture of panic, sheer determination, and brisk efficiency!
5. Is there a topic/theme/setting you’re particularly interested in that you’d like to write about in a future book?
I’m always fascinated by relational connection versus isolation and how we build a sense of place in the world and a sense of home. I’ve got a new story percolating about the strong bond between a grieving mother and her deceased child and about grace and forgiveness.
6. What’s the strangest/most inappropriate place you’ve ever brought a book? (Example, a family dinner, a baseball game, etc.)
Oh you name it. Growing up I always had a book or two or four in my bag. Always. Weddings. Church potlucks. A blind date. I learned to wash dishes while reading a book! I am a true book nerd.
7. Tell us a few recent books you’ve read that you really liked.
The Great Alone by fellow Pacific Northwest author Kristin Hannah. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall.
8. Can you name a book you liked that you didn’t think you would? Maybe because of the subject matter, or an author you didn’t think you enjoyed, or a genre you weren’t used to reading.
One of my favorite books this year was The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs. I expected a memoir about a young mother dying of stage 4 breast cancer to be terribly depressing, but Riggs’ philosophical bent, dark humor, and tender observations about life made it a remarkable book about how to live fully. I adored it! Also I finished it sobbing at 1 in the morning on my birthday. So readers, be warned!
9. What are your pet peeves as a reader—something you read in books that really bugs you?
I love details, those specifics that give a story a sense of place. Since I’ve lived abroad and traveled so much, I struggle if an author doesn’t give a well-rounded and authentic sense of place, especially if it seems like they haven’t been somewhere they’re writing about. I find it hard to really engage with the story. And it’s difficult as an author not to read other books with an editorial eye. If I find I’m editing sentences in a book I usually lay it aside and find a story that fully engages me as a reader and suspends that editorial side of me! I also want the books I read to affirming the value of this life in some way. I want to come away from each book enlightened, encouraged or at least entertained. If not, I feel cheated!
10. Books: print or e-reader? Similarly, calendar: paper or electronic?
I love the tactile nature of real paper pages but since I lived in Europe for years, my faithful old first generation Kindle became my best book buddy! I could download books from the Seattle Public Library and it was my literary lifeline. I love the convenience of Kindle for travel too. As for a calendar…I use a hopelessly messy paper calendar shared by the entire family. Not the most effective method probably!
11. Chocolate or vanilla?
I’m firmly in the chocolate camp! Preferably dark and European. Vanilla tastes like eating cold air to me, like eating nothing!
12. Coffee or tea? Or something else?
Bubbly water. I lived in Budapest for 5 years and Hungarians LOVE their sparkling water. Now I crave it.
13. Tell us what you’re working on now.
I’m finishing up edits for The Enlightenment of Bees and starting to plot book #4. I’m really excited about this one. It’s set on an island in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s a unique twist to the story!