Author Interview with Best-Selling Author Linda Lee Greene
I was born in Peebles on the rim of the famous star-wound in Adams County, Ohio known worldwide as the Great Serpent Mound Crater. However, I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and lived in Queens and Long Island, New York, as well as in Pompano Beach, Florida during my married years. I returned to Columbus in the late 1970s and have resided there ever since. I am the mother of a son and a daughter, and the grandmother of two grandsons. I work part-time as an interior designer for a firm in Columbus, am an award-winning artist and a member of several art-related and writer’s organizations around Central Ohio.
I am the co-author, with my maternal first cousin, Debra Shiveley Welch, of the murder mystery/historical novel, Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams, the first book for both of us and one that upon its release in 2006 was an Amazon best-seller. It was a miracle for which both Debra and I are grateful. At the time that I approached Debra about working with me on the book, neither of us had written anything for years, and even then it had been limited to simple work-related and newspaper projects–certainly nothing that would seem to have prepared us for writing a novel. GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS, my current book, categorized as a family saga/historical-fiction novel, was published in May, 2012. I write about interesting people, places and things, as well as host other authors, on my blog, “In Good Company.” Find me on the web at: my Web site of current & future books with excerpts, my Online Art Gallery, my Blog, @LLGreeneAuthor – Twitter Username, Amazon Authors Page, my other Website, Facebook Author Page, and my Blog Tour Website.
You can purchase Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams, Murder Mystery/Historical Fiction available on Amazon in paperbacks and eBooks, as well as at Barnes & Noble in paperbacks and Guardians and Other Angels on Amazon Paperback and Kindle.
Writing always has been one of those things that I “can do.” For most of my history it was a parlor-game sort of thing like being able to touch the tip of my nose with my tongue, or bend my thumb to my wrist. But one critical day, deadly-earnest writing chose me. It came out of nowhere the morning of August 10, 2000, bringing with it not only the story-line of Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams, but also a life-altering and a life-saving purpose for me during one of my darkest periods.
Having lived with a devastating case of Crohns Disease for nearly a decade, that fateful morning I was in the throes of yet another course of weeks of confinement to my bed, and smack dab in the middle of a life that had been reduced by the illness to little more than the perimeter of my tiny house and a well-worn path in its carpeting between my bedroom and my bathroom. I had stopped making plans for my future; had shut away my dreams in a dark corner of my heart and then had sheathed it in a bullet-proof casing. I was still breathing, but my soul was dead. Then suddenly in my imagination, the televangelist, Dr. Oma Mae Adams, the protagonist of Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams walked toward me in the hallway of the television studio where I decided that her weekly religious program was filmed. Embodied in her was not only the story of the book, but also of new purpose for my life, a life for which confinement was advantageous.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing is completely extemporaneous, no outlines, no impression as to where the story is going to take me. I begin with a kernel of an idea: perhaps an opening sentence, or a vague topic, or a word that interests me, and then I write as if I am a reader of the material who discovers the storyline as the pages are turned. I am convinced that when I enter that pitch-perfect zone of writing that it comes from somewhere ordinarily beyond the scope of my conscious mind.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Having been an intuitive artist since I was old enough to hold a pencil in my grubby little fingers, I never dreamed that anything could possibly interest, or fulfill, me more than executing artwork. But writing does just that…it has taken over as the centerpiece of my working life, and without the slightest regret on my part. I wish it hadn’t taken 57 years to come to me, however, because I have almost endless ideas for books, some of them partially written. I guess I will just have to live to be as old as Methuselah to complete them.
Where did you get ideas for your books?
My shower is so crowded with ideas for stories that it is a wonder there is room enough for me. The opening line of Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams poured over me in the spray of my shower as if the words were contained within the molecules of the water. I often head for the shower when I need clarification in the structure of a sentence, as well. My car is another place chocked full of stories, and solutions to them. I am a head-swimming, people- and film-watcher, as well as a voracious reader, and I think, a good listener. Inspiration comes to me in all of those sources.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Two of my books have been published, and two others are in queue with my publisher to be released next year. I am nearly finished with the manuscript of my novella for young readers based on an excerpt of my most recent novel, GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS.
I know this might appear to be an evasion of the question, but choosing the favorite book that I have written is as impossible for me as deciding which of my children I love the most. GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS holds a special place in my heart, however. Set during the Great Depression and World War II, the book is inspired by a true story of two Southern Ohio families who find joy and purpose in living despite the hardships, personal tragedies, and limited opportunities that beset them. Included in the novel are transcriptions of authentic letters written to one another by the characters in the book.
Who is your target audience?
Individually, my books are geared a little more strongly toward one audience or another, but I think that anyone with the intellectual capacity, and desire, to read books will enjoy my stories.
What do you think makes a good story?
In my opinion, the best stories hold within themselves a secret to be divulged, and the more reluctantly, and cleverly, it is revealed, the better.
What projects do you have up and coming?
Currently in queue with my publisher and scheduled for release next year are my two sequels to Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams. The first one is titled, “My ‘Aumakua” [In Hawaiian, “A Spirit Guide”]. It is another murder mystery. The third book in the series, titled, Garden of the Spirits of the Pots is a story of an expat-American who finds new meaning in life, as well as love, while on a spiritual odyssey in Australia.
GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS has inspired two other works in progress, one of them a non-fiction sequel to the novel titled, “I Received Your Letter …,” as well as Bussy Gaffin and His Champion Roosters, a novella for young readers. Other than the novella, excerpts of all of my current, and future books, are online at booksbylindaleegreene.gallery-llgreene.com.
Who are some of your favorite Authors?
My top-choice is Australian, Shirley Hazzard, author of awarding-winning books such as The Bay of Noon and The Transit of Venus, among others. The English language soars on lofty wings at her hand, and her stories are replete with politics, geography, psychology, romance, you name it. My second pick is Tennesse-born Florida author, Patrick D. Smith, another award-winning writer. I admire his courage in tackling politically incorrect social topics, and in an utterly opposite style of that of Ms. Hazzard, his masterful writing is as down-to-earth and dirty as it needs to be to needle the consciences of his readers. He is a Pulitzer- and a Nobel-nominated writer. And, of course, I approach F. Scott Fitzgerald on bended knees.
Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing?
The above-mentioned authors, of course, and others too numerous to mention. For the writing of GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS and its sequel, “I Received Your Letter…” (a work in progress) it was, and continues to be, necessary for me to spend several years in researching the Great Depression and World War II. I am in awe of many of the writers of those genres. In my opinion, the best of the best writer of the time, and of the genre, was Sir Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the war and spiritual partner to my favorite historical figure, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As far as I am concerned, Churchill’s MEMOIRS of the Second World War is one of the greatest books ever written.
What hobbies do you have?
All of what used to be hobbies have morphed into vocations. Scheduling downtime is a matter of concern that has been gaining on me lately.
What kind of TV shows do you like and do you find that as a Suspense/Mystery Writer that you gravitate toward the shows such as Law and Order or Perry Mason?
Perry Mason, Law and Order, The Closer, and others of the genre pull me into them. I also like family-oriented shows. Two and a Half Men (with Charlie Sheen) and The Big Bang Theory are great. I like public television specials, and talk-shows with an intellectual bent. I am a pushover for movies of almost any genre, as long as they tell interesting stories that are skillfully portrayed. I wish West Wing would be reprised with a new cast every four years…and Northern Exposure–now that was a great television series. I like The Voice, as well.
If you could pick a celebrity to play one character in the movie version, who would it be?
I recently heard that actor, Daniel Day Lewis is playing Abraham Lincoln in a new film. The principle father-figure in GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS is very much an Abe Lincoln-like figure: long and lean, craggy-featured, gentle and self-effacing, but a rock of a man. Therefore, I beseech you, Daniel Day Lewis to please find my book, fall in love with this character, and to make my book into a feature film.
What other genres do you write?
To date, my credits include murder mysteries, historical-fiction, biographical-fiction, family sagas, non-fiction, and young readers genres. Someday I’d like to publish a volume or two of my poetry.
If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring Author, what would it be?
Whether your interest is in fiction or non-fiction, do not waste one minute of your precious life in trying to be a writer if in fact you are not an intuitively-gifted storyteller. Masterful storytelling is what it is ALL about. If you can tell a captivating story, but are a poor speller, or lost in the intimidating web of punctuation, vocabulary, and organization, take heart for you can learn those mechanical things, or editors can fix them for you. However, I doubt that superior storytelling can be learned. If you have the gift, study, practice and do not give up. If you believe in yourself passionately, someday, somehow you will find your star and you will name it for yourself.
What would you like to say to friends and family of writers (not just your own)?
In the main, writers, and all creative-types, especially when highly gifted, are sensitive and insecure creatures. They need validation of their work. Support them; give them positive feedback; publish good reviews; purchase their books; spread the word. Try to be cognizant, and appreciative, of the fact, as well, that writing a book, especially a good one, is a monumental effort, and reward them for it!
Any other questions you would like to answer?
I have been asked why I didn’t publish any books in the long interval between Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams and GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS. During that period, Debra continued to pursue a literary career, but I was placed upon a different path. Although in January, 2001, major surgery put the Crohns Disease in remission and restored my quality of life, at the close of the writing of Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams, I was given another distressing medical diagnosis. It was established that I have macular degeneration, a situation that confirmed for me my need to devote myself to my art career while my eyesight was still able to withstand an energetic painting schedule. While taking breathers in my painting, I continued to conduct research for my books and to write, but withheld submitting my manuscripts to my publisher until I could devote the necessary time to promoting my books. In February, 2011, I made the transition to full-time writer, and occasional painter. It was then that I sent GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS to my publisher.
I want to thank you, Aurora Martinez for asking me to be a guest author on your blog. I am much more adept at telling stories about other people than I am at plumbing my own consciousness for my personal story. This sort of venue is absolutely essential in pushing a private person like me into revealing herself to readers, a requirement that people like you have made me aware.
Excerpt of Guardians and Other Angels:
The one-room, Cedar Fork schoolhouse across the holler from the little log cabin on the near side of Peach Mountain was a tolerable two-mile walk in clement weather. It was an enjoyable walk actually, if one had time to swing from a grapevine on top of a high cliff and drop into Cedar Fork Creek for a lazy dip, or stop by the Workman’s place for a quick smoke of their corn silk tobacco. But in snowdrifts as tall as thirteen-year-old, Lee Greene, in threadbare clothes, thin hand-me-down coat, and barely covered feet in holey socks flopping in an old pair of secondhand shoes that were several sizes too big for him, the walk that frigid morning was worse than pure misery.
The chronically aching stomach of Lee was hollow and rumbling. His meager breakfast of cornmeal mush and sugar water was quickly wearing thin, but he had more important things than his stomach to worry about that morning. He was stewing about the paucity of milk he had drawn from their cow tethered in the yard just beyond the lean-to kitchen at the back of the tiny log cabin. The two-story structure, built by A. E., Lee, and Bill only five months before, consisted of a common, or front room on the main level, a primitive lean-to kitchen at the back, and a bedroom where Eva Love and A. E. slept, housing the only closet in the place. A rough-hewn timber ladder gained access to the upper deck, where, in an open-to-the-front loft, all of the many children slept on crude cots, or thin pads on the floor. A large ceiling-to-floor fireplace of indigenous stones in the common room on the first floor was the only source of heat in the place. Felled tree trunks supporting its roof, a porch spanned the width of the front of the log cabin.
The soil on Cedar Fork, thin, hard, and dry, a crusty layer of sediment topping bedrock of limestone, dolomite and shale, made for poor farming and gardening, posing a formidable challenge for the growing of adequate food. Squirrels, rabbits, opossums and birds, hunted and brought in by Lee, the insufficient supply of milk from the cow, and scant eggs supplied by their paltry flock of scrawny chickens in the yard, were the only sources of protein for the family. In season, a large vegetable garden and a stand of corn were coddled into fruition in the poor soil, but only if they were favored with enough rain.
His nose and eyes crusty from yet another head cold, gloveless hands thrust into the pockets of his thin coat, and his feet turning to blocks of ice, Lee trudged on to school, his white-blond head under his hat hunkered into his shoulders. Despite the fact that he might not make it through the perpetual hardships of his life, much less that cold, windy, and snowbound morning, his soul was full of dreams, his mind of intention, his body of vigor and endurance, and on the strength of pure power of will alone, and maybe some help from the man upstairs, Lee was determined that if he ever got out of his childhood alive, nothing would ever encumber him again.
The schoolhouse was dark and frigid, Lee, by design, having been the first to arrive. The door was unlocked as it always was, and Lee, halting for a few minutes to give his blood a chance to circulate again in his frozen limbs and digits, sat down on one of the benches. He would have wept if he had allowed himself to seriously consider his unfortunate circumstances—but not Lee! No, not Lee! Not the boy/man who would be my father someday. He had a chance to earn fifty cents that week, and every week for weeks to come, fifty cents for building a fire in the “Warm Morning” coal-burning, heating-stove each morning before school, and that was exactly what the Sam Hill he was going to do…