Each of the last five years this time, late September, finds me working to finish a book. This one is no different from the previous years; I am pushing hard to complete the 1st iteration of My Name is Saul. Forcing my writing to be extremely focused on Saul instead of new content for the blog.
Therefore, this Sunday article consists of re-posting 2 new Lin Wilder author interviews, both originally published during September.
The first was published in Literary Titan early this month. This first interview served as the catalyst for the second. Author Laura Vosika, read the review in Titan and asked if I would do an interview for her blog.
A no brainer of a question since guest author interviews are an excellent (and free – the only cost being time) method to market books. I have done several in the past and found the time expense worthwhile.
I, Claudia follows the life of Claudia Procula wife of Pontius Pilate. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
This book was not my idea. In fact, I planned to write the fifth in the Lindsey McCall series. Until a March day last year when this title and overall story appeared in my head. Pilate is a man with whom I began to feel a powerful affinity once I started praying the prayers of the Catholic Church. Not only could I sympathize with his awful dilemma, I felt that I could “stand under” it, having faced my own.
When Pilate was confronted with an impossible choice, he was wholly clear on the right action to take— and what was at stake if he didn’t— yet he was entirely incapable of bringing it to fruition. In his case, this was because of an oath. In my own, it was because of a promise.
You are able to weave fact with fiction in this book so well that it all seemed possible. How did you fill in the historical gaps with your story?
In bringing Pilate— and especially his bride— to life, I was moved to allow my imagination to embroider upon the little that is known about them. From the moment I began to conceive of this book, Claudia was Greek— a Delphine. Like anyone who has had the privilege of visiting Delphi, I found the place haunting and holy. There is mysticism in each pebble and echoes of the Oracles in the ruins of the temples. On a journey there alone, I could literally hear the whispered prayers of the ages as I made my way down through the crumbling ruins of the shrine. It is a sacred place. Claudia Procula could have been from no other place on earth. Giving Claudia a bit of a philosophical bent provided me with an excuse to revisit friends from a time when I believed in nothing.
The story is very well told and the world seems so vivid. What research did you undertake for this novel to keep things accurate?
The research necessary for this story, actually for every one of my books is considerable. Because I need to study and read enough to convey authenticity of character, place and time. Somewhere around a dozen books, scores of articles and many, many online virtual ‘tours’ of the ancient Roman, Israeli and Greek architecture, travel, geography, dress and cuisine.
What are the three most important rules for writing a novel
They probably exist but no one knows what they are. I am paraphrasing a great quote by Somerset Maugham.
How to you handle writers block?
For me, those days, weeks, sometimes months when the words won’t come are times I need to think. But it’s a weird kind of thinking. Meaning that while watching a movie, or reading someone else’s novel, the “AHA’ hits. Maybe that’ writers block for some but for me, it’s when I need to be patient, wait.
What is the single most important attribute for a writer?
Persistence. Years ago, I write this and still believe it to be true: The most important attribute for a writer is also the most important trait of a musician, medical doctor, engineer, stay- at- home Mom or anyone in pursuit of anything under the sun. There are many names for this one characteristic: persistence, grit, determination, and tenacity are a few. It is never intelligence or looks or money, although many of us assume these are the reasons that Bill Gates or Jennifer Garner or Mark Zuckerman are so successful.
What books influenced you the most and did they impact your own writing?
As a kid and an English major, a million years ago, The Great Gatsby; This Side of Paradise; Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. Later, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Mastery, The War of Art.
What inspired your book?
On a hike about 9 years ago, the name Lindsey McCall appeared in my head. I could see her…blonde, an interventional Cardiologist…in my head. And a few months later, the skeletal outline to my first novel, The Fragrance Shed By A Violet. My initial reaction? Fiction? Really? After all these years? (Like most undergraduate English majors, I had dreamed of writing a novel but gave it up as the ‘childish stuff’ years ago.
Who is your favorite character in your book? How much of yourself is in that character?
Since I’ve published six, soon to be seven novels, I have several favorite characters. In fact, it was due to that fact that I decided to do the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series. Quick and brief story apropos to that: For a host of reasons, the first novel took forever to write. I suppose there is something of me in many of my characters. When, finally, The Fragrance Shed By a Violetwas done, my husband was congratulating me, looked at my expression and said, “You don’t look very happy about it.” My reply: “I miss the characters…I feel as if I’ve lost some of my best friends!” John’s reply:” Then write a sequel.” Why didn’t I think of that? So I did and then another…
They say write what you know. How much of your life, your experiences, your career or hobbies, come out in your writing?
A lot. That first novel was very much based on my own experience in academic medical centers, especially the Texas Medical Center in Houston. The medical aspects are familiar since I published a textbook on Cardiac pathophysiology and my own clinical experience. Some of the primary male characters in the Lindsey McCall series are Marines, inspired by my former Marine husband who spent over 20 years counseling former combat soldiers.
We can’t write only what we know. What research have you done and how do you research?
For each book I write, I do extensive research…making sure that facts have a basis in reality; that places can be described with enough detail that the reader can readily picture the place, event or the character. For the first novel, placed in Houston Texas, I spent a week with a basic science researcher at University of Houston Medical School, and Huntsville, Texas to see the prison and the town, the general area. Since I was unable to get inside the prison, I found a book written by an inmate describing the cells. And downloaded the book given to each new prisoner. Normally, I study, scan something between 10 to 20 books, additionally, online research of articles and books. For the novels of the ancient world, I did extensive research on ancient Greece, Rome, Israel.
What are you working on now or what is next for you? My Name is Saul. I expect to be released late this year. Next, I will return to write the fifth Lindsey McCall medical mystery. Current working title: Genderless.
Hope you enjoyed the 2 new Lin Wilder author interviews!