Linda Lee Talbert Interview
April 29th, 2012
Linda Lee Talbert
Hello Linda Lee! Thank you for dropping by to answer a few questions for us today!
I would like to thank VRB for including me in your Indie Author Month. I deem this as a wonderful opportunity to converse with readers.
Your bio says that you are a West Virginia native. Can you tell us what it was like growing up in The Mountain State? Where do you currently reside?
I have lived in Boulder, Colorado since 1984, but once rhubarb and whippoorwill days existed. I was born in West Virginia, and harbor fond childhood memories of mist-enshrouded mountains, lush forests, dragonflies and lightning bugs, apple butter and plump biscuits, fried green tomatoes and ramps. My Scots-Irish grandmother Sapphire embodied the ways of kale and dandelion greens, butter churns, quilting bees, home remedies, and sweet-and-tart rhubarb pie.
I am proud of my Scots-Irish heritage, and a fiercely independent mountain folk who transformed ancient Celtic melodies into country and bluegrass music. Rebellious moonshiners, fleeing the law at breakneck speed along treacherous winding roads, gave birth to the rambunctious sport called NASCAR. And did you know defiant coalminers, manipulated by company monopolies, donned red kerchiefs to identify themselves as union organizers? Their boldness gave rise to the label “redneck.”
I also read that you teach. Do your students read your books, and if so, do they give you feedback?
I earned a doctoral degree in Comparative Literature and am a scholar, teacher, and writer. As a professor, I taught courses in philosophy, literature, and women’s studies. Some of my students do read my books, and I always welcome their feedback. Every writer is interested in a reader’s response to his/her work.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
As an avid reader in childhood, I knew as a relatively young girl I wanted to write stories. Good writers, like good teachers, are enthused, in the original sense of the word. “Enthusiasm” is derived from the Greek en theos, meaning god-inspired or, in my case, goddess-inspired. Joseph Campbell, the renowned comparative mythologist, declared, “Follow your bliss.” Writing constitutes my bliss.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
In the annals of the history of world literature, the number of writers I admire is simply too great to list. But I shall endeavor to name a few writers who move me. Would it be too obvious to mention I respect the sheer breadth of William Shakespeare’s genius? Charles Dickens. Jane Austen. George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans). George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin). Edith Wharton. Zora Neale Hurston. Paule Marshall. Toni Morrison. Ursula K. LeGuin. Ray Bradbury. Alice Walker. Gabriel García Márquez. Oscar Wilde. Wole Soyinka.
What is the last book you read?
Before viewing the film, I wanted to read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.
What gave you the idea to write Immortal Desire?
From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, compelling vampire tales capture the imagination. Anne Rice states, “Vampires are us.” Since vampire culture serves as a metaphor, I wanted to explore a female fledgling vampire’s struggle for identity and evolving sense of self.
In Immortal Desire why did you choose to blend fiction with true historical figures and events?
It occurred to me blending fiction with historical figures and events would be incredibly fun for me as the writer and for the reader. As the centuries passed in the novel, I selected talented individuals I wanted Constance to meet: Michelangelo, Renaissance artist; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein author and inventor of the science fiction genre; Oscar Wilde, incandescent genius.
I was drawn to Constance in Immortal Desire. She is really fascinating and it is easy to empathize with her. Of your works, who is your favorite character and why?
It feels disloyal to admire one main character I have created in preference to other main characters I have created. So allow me to talk about Constance. I admire Constance’s strength. When she is robbed of her mortality against her will, she embarks upon a journey of self-discovery. Within the novel, Constance’s diary entries take the reader inside the female psyche, her rebellion, quest for identity, and longing for love.
Can you tell us a little about your other works?
In The Courtesan’s Daughter, a novel rich in historical detail, you will sojourn to the Victorian era of opulence, romance, and forbidden eroticism. In 1884, Mademoiselle Colette Chartier, a gifted French actress, travels alone to London to perform at the Savoy Theater. To shield herself from the English aristocrats’ condemnation, Colette conceals her identity as the illegitimate daughter of a notorious Parisian courtesan. But when she meets the aloof Lord Jonathan Thackeray, who harbors a secret of his own, she learns first-hand about love based upon a lie. Discover the 24th century Pavilion of Oracles, a galactic diplomatic center where seven gifted diviners confront political intrigue, conspiracy, and violence. Pavilion of Oracles, a science fiction/fantasy novel, raises the question: Will the diverse inhabitants of the Milky Way Galaxy ever coexist in peace?
What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?
Soon you can explore the rich cultural heritage and mystical secrets of ancient Crete!
High Priestess of Dolphin Isle is a historical fantasy set in Knossos, the capital of ancient Crete. In this matriarchal civilization the inhabitants worship Great Mother. Thirty-three-year-old High Priestess Hyacinth receives a vision revealing Great Mother will send a dolphin messenger, Posidaeja.. When Posidaeja discloses Hyacinth will receive three prophetic dreams, the High Priestess is amazed to discover she can literally hear the dolphin’s thoughts. Can High Priestess Hyacinth save the sacred Villa of Priestesses? Can Hyacinth find the courage to convince King Minos and Queen Pasiphaë her dreams prophesy the catastrophic destruction of Crete? Does the wise and compassionate Posidaeja remain to serve as Hyacinth’s spiritual mentor? Or will the Sun-god prevail, rendering reverence for the divine feminine dissolving into the mists of antiquity?
Do you have any rituals before you sit down to write?
Armed with considerable experience as a scholar and researcher, I set about the practical business of filling notebooks with detailed and invaluable information. With my notebooks brimming, I then face the joyous and daunting task of actually writing the book. I require college-ruled notebooks and a Paper Mate® Flair pen. I do not plot out the story, but rather allow each scene to emerge organically out of my imagination. Without the constraints of any preconceived notions, I have discovered some remarkable things begin to happen. One scene gives rise to another as an integral part of plot development! Characters unexpectedly appear, willing themselves onto the page and adding richness to the story! And in this fictional universe I am creating, I can literally see the characters and scenes unfold before my mind’s eye! This aspect of my creative process is inexplicable and absolutely wonderful. But there is a practical magic to writing. Writing a book—any book—requires living a structured life, exercising unwavering discipline, and embracing untold hours of solitude.
Can you explain what the publishing process has been like for you?
Approaching traditional publishers and literary agents can prove to be a daunting, character-building exercise, fraught with excessive doses of rejection. However, on a more positive note, the digital self-publishing revolution is providing committed indie authors the opportunity to make our books available to committed readers.
What forms of promotion have been most beneficial to you?
Genre-specific websites, like Vampire Romance Books, are an invaluable marketing resource for indie writers. Many sites exist dedicated to the promotion of Nook and Kindle e-books. And a number of remarkable sites utilize reader reviews to spread the news about indie novels. But the best promotion of all is when a friend tells a friend about a book he or she enjoyed!
Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and thinking about going the Indie route?
If you feel compelled to write a novel, I encourage you to write a novel. If the very process of writing gives you joy, then writing is a path well worth exploring. To feel engaged by the creative process is to feel fully alive.
Thank you for stopping by VRB! Is there anything that you would like to add or say to your readers out there?
I love books—all kinds of books. And I admire people who love books. Whether you appreciate the feel of holding a book in your hands or enjoy utilizing the new e-reader technology, please continue to read. As Sydney Smith writes in Lady Holland’s Memoir, “Live always in the best company when you read.”