It gives me great pleasure to welcome Indie Author Linda Ellen to The Book Corner. I’m honored that she took time out from publishing and promoting her latest release AND writing her next book to do an interview with me. I’ve known Linda for a little over 3 years now. We met through a mutual love for the TV show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and have been friends ever since. ;) I was blessed enough to be able to act as a beta-reader for Linda’s latest release, Her Blue-Eyed Corporal, and loved every moment of it!
Today marks the release of Linda’s 5th book, Her Blue-Eyed Corporal, which is the second book in her delightful Soldiers of Swing series. I was excited to be able to interview Linda in honor of her new release to ask her a few questions about the new book, her writing process, and more…
Me- Hi Linda! To get things started, can you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
Linda Ellen- That’s easy. I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where I still reside. Louisville is a rather large city (The mayor says we are the 16th largest in the nation), and yet in some ways it has the charm of a small town. I’ve lived in quite a few neighborhoods over the years, from the east end to the south end and back again. Our ‘neighborhoods’ vary almost as widely as LA’s from the slums of the west end to antebellum homes downtown to million dollar homes in the east, lol.
Me- After reading your books, both your Cherished Memories series and your current Soldiers of Swing series, I really want to visit Kentucky! I feel like I’ve already been to Louisville, after reading your vivid descriptions. Ironically enough, my dog was born in Kentucky, but I have yet to visit the state! Haha, pretty bad when your dog has been to more places than you, eh?
Linda- That’s funny about your dog! Come on down to Kentucky for a visit, we’ll pull up a chair and have a glass of sweet tea. :)
Me- I just might one of these days! That sounds lovely and I would absolutely love getting to chat with you in person! ;)
So what’s your favorite thing about Kentucky, do you have favorite spot or activity?
Linda- Wow, that’s a hard question, because Kentucky has so much beauty – and I haven’t even seen it all. I love the hills of Eastern Kentucky, especially a place called Natural Bridge, which is a large rock, shaped like a bridge that is only accessible by sky lift (or a very difficult uphill hike). Once you are standing on the bridge, the view of the surrounding miles of trees and land goes on and on as far as the eye can see and is simply breathtaking. The State of Kentucky is rich in history dealing with figures like Daniel Boone, Stephen Foster, George Rogers Clark, and even President Lincoln. Then there are the interesting one-of-a-kinds, like the Louisville Slugger factory, outside of which stands the world’s largest baseball bat (120 ft. tall!), the Corvette factory and museum in Bowling Green, Mammoth Cave in Cave City—one of the largest cave systems in the world, the Kentucky Derby, and Thunder over Louisville which launches “Derby Week”—the largest fireworks show in the world. One thing I enjoy is taking a cruise on the Belle of Louisville—Louisville’s very own last-of-her-kind river steamboat. Other than those, I enjoy spending time with my family and of course – writing!
Me- Wow, your answer just makes me want to visit Kentucky even more! It sounds wonderful.
As someone who has always loved to write, I always like to ask authors: have you always loved to write?
Linda- Not really, although I tried my hand at writing a novel 30 years ago, I wrote 200 pages—on a typewriter (using liquid whiteout!), but stalled after a setback and never finished.
Me- Gosh, I’ve never used a typewriter, but I have a hard enough time dealing with a computer, hehe, so I can’t imagine trying to use a typewriter successfully!
Linda- Never used a typewriter? LOL I feel old. I learned to type on a manual typewriter- the kind that the harder you hit the keys, the darker the print. Also, the ‘a’ and ‘;’ were usually fainter than the rest, being they are the pinkie keys, but I managed a 70 wpm, imagine that! ;)
Me- Lol holy cow! Now that’s skill. ;)
When did you first start writing stories/novels?
Linda- My breakout year was 2009, beginning with four full-length novels and 28 short stories in Dr. Quinn fan fiction. I worked as hard on them as I do now on my novels.
Me- I’ve read a few of your DQ fan fiction and enjoyed them, though I’m still working on catching up on all of them. You put a 100% into everything that you do, that’s one thing I admire about you.
How did you get started as an author?
Linda- I met some great people during my fan fiction days, wonderful writers and entrepreneurs who taught me a lot – like Audrey Caudill, Leanne Ford, Kate Lapage, Venessa Vargas, Heather D’Agostino, and many others, with whom I’m still friends. Heather has gone on to have a very prolific career with 25 books (and counting) since 2014, and she was my mentor, teaching me the ins and outs of self-publishing.
Me- This is the point where I usually ask the author how many books they’ve written so far, but of course I already know you currently have 5 under your belt counting Her Blue-Eyed Corporal. ;)
Linda- LOL that’s right and I’ve started the 3rd for that series – Her Blue-Eyed Lieutenant.
Me- I was so excited when I found out you were going to do a 3rd installment! I loved the first two and was looking forward to reading more about the brothers and the lovely ladies by their sides.
Linda- Thanks so much! That is music to my ears. I wish I had the third one out now, lol. But the research for it is going well. I have a great research assistant that I met in a facebook group called Louisville’s Past, and she’s helped me a great deal, praise God.
Me- Technology is truly wonderful! It’s amazing the people you meet and the connections you make that really make a difference in your life or work… or both!
As a writer myself, I’m always interested in an author’s writing process. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Linda- LOL all of the above. I don’t do storyboards or a full, typed-out outline, but I have a note .doc file for each story where I plop in ideas, pictures, quotes, period slang, and anything else that might help, and I refer to it as I’m writing. I usually start with a basic plot and have ideas for major scenes, pivotal points, the conclusion, etc. Then as I write, sometimes the characters drive it along and sometimes in my research I find delicious little tidbits that provide fodder for a bump in the road or a downright detour. As for modeling the characters—for my first series, almost all of the characters were fashioned after real people. Then with Her Blue-Eyed Sergeant, I modeled my heroine after a dear friend at work, and my hero from my dream guy (tall, dark and handsome, lol). My hero in the current book I fashioned after my husband! :) As far as music, I’ve used that many times to get into the ‘swing of things’ (a little 40’s pun there) and give me the atmosphere I need to put myself in the scene and then write about it. As for a certain time, I write the most on the weekends, when I can immerse myself into my book’s world and timeframe, although I do tweaking and editing in the evenings or mornings before work.
Me- That’s fascinating! Hehe ‘swing of things’! I also enjoy 40s music, especially Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. ;)
Linda- Ahh yes, and Perry Como and Doris Day….
Me- What do you hope people take with them after reading one of your books?
Linda- I hope my stories impact readers in a positive way. Although I don’t put my books in the Christian Fiction or even inspirational genres, I hope that truths are gently planted in the reader for the good. Truths that will bless them, like: God is always there and He loves us. He’s a forgiving God (you just need to ask) and lets a person come back to Him even if they’ve walked away, made bad choices, or messed up somehow. I try to ride that line between too much “God stuff” and not enough, lol. I don’t want to be “preachy,” but I want to impact people for the good and leave them, hopefully, with nuggets, as well as characters, and scenes that they’ll never forget.
Me- You’ve certainly achieve those goals with your last 5 books. They’re beautifully written with enough Truth to touch the heart and soul without making those that aren’t into it uncomfortable.
As someone who didn’t actually like reading when I was younger, but who turned into a rabid reader (For me it was ultimately just a matter of finding the right books to interest me), I always wonder about others. Have you always loved reading or did you develop the passion for it over time?
Linda- Yes, I’ve always loved to read. As a child, my mom read to me and I remember the expressions and nuances she would use as she read aloud. The stories came alive as she read. As a youngster, I would ride my bike five blocks to the library and check out books. I read a lot of Harlequin as a teen, and in my twenties, I amassed a collection of over 500 historical romance novels—so many that my husband built me special shelves to house them all, lol. I love reading fiction, but also biographies, history, and Christian books.
Me- Our tastes in books run along the same lines. ;) I also enjoy historical and western fiction, along with biographies/autobiographies, history, educational, and Christian.
One question I always have to ask when speaking to an author is: What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Linda- Oh wow, another hard one! Again, Heather D’Agostino comes to mind—her work ethic, determination, and commitment to excellence in her field. Barbara Goss is another who has influenced me, with her never-ending wellspring of ideas for plots and her way of turning a phrase. There are many more great indie authors that have influenced or impacted me, I can’t even name them all. As for famous authors, I loved the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Earl Hamner (The Waltons), and a Christian writer from decades past, Catherine Marshall (Christy)—she wrote a book called Julie, where the heroine miraculously survives a sweeping flash flood caused by a dam breaking up stream from their town. That long, brilliantly written scene has stuck in my mind for years, and I think I try to make my action scenes as riveting and memorable as that—I don’t know if I succeed, but I give it a whack.
Me- One reason for this question is that I often learn about authors that I haven’t read yet! ;) I also love Barbara Goss’ books and am proud to call her a friend. I, too, love the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder, along with Louisa May Alcott, LM Montgomery, and Jane Austen for classics. Well I can certainly lay that wonderment to rest. The flood scenes from your first book in the Cherished Memories series, Once in a While, are still fresh in my mind. They were riveting and moving, made me feel like I was right there in the thick of things with the characters.
What are a few of your favorite authors?
Linda- The ones I have listed, as well as many others in the historical romance genre such as Sarah Sundin, Becky Wade, Karen Witemeyer, Kit Morgan, Liz Isaacson...the list goes on and on, lol. But those ladies wrote books that impacted me in a positive way and have scenes and themes that I remember and cherish.
Me- I would also count Karen Witemeyer and Kit Morgan on my list of favorite authors. I’ll have to check out the others as I haven’t read them.
Now comes the hard question: What are a few of your favorite books?
Linda- LoL so many. First, would be The Bible. I’ve read it through 6 or 7 times, but it’s a book that never gets ‘old’, there is always something fresh and new to learn each time you open it. Other than that, I’ll mention a few that impacted me in one way or another-- Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade, A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin, Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden, and many more.
Me- I agree about the Bible, it is timeless and never gets old. It always seems to offer something new every time I open it.
What are you currently reading?
Linda- In my kindle right now is Texas Lonesome by Caroline Fyffe (I’m reading my way through the McCutcheons, lol)
Me- So your latest release, Her Blue-Eyed Corporal is out TODAY! It is the second book in your already fabulous Soldiers of Swing series. Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Linda- This one involves the best friend and brother of the characters who fell in love in Her Blue-Eyed Sergeant. Now, we follow Mary June and Steve as they navigate a bit of a bumpy romance. He’s a corporal in the army, stationed at what was known as the Charlestown Army Ammunition Plant (sadly, it no longer exists). Readers will be amazed at the incredible facts about the facility that I bring out throughout the story. There are several exciting scenes of attempted sabotage and drunken sailors, as well as romantic rides on a riverboat and our couple getting stranded together on a stormy night. Don’t want to tell more, you’ll just have to read and find out! ;)
Me- Haha I can attest to it being an awesome read, one y’all won’t want to miss out on. I think it has something for everyone in it. Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down.
After reading a series like this one, I always wonder what made the author decide to write it. What made you write this one?
Linda- I was looking for a way to showcase local famous landmarks and places. I settled on WWII and I wanted to do a little bragging about Fort Knox—which has become a household word, lol (and which, of course, includes the world famous Gold Vault), and our local USO (I found out that the War Department used ours as the model for all of the USO’s after representatives made a trip here and toured it!). I started researching and came across so many interesting details and anecdotes; they made the story just flow right along. Then, for the second book, the Charlestown plant, WOW, what a fascinating place! The third book will center on an army air force flier stationed at our local Bowman Field and I can’t wait to dig into that and find delicious, little-known nuggets. :)
Me- That IS fascinating! I always love reading background information and historical details included in your books, it really brings the time period alive for the reader.
Linda- Oh me too! It’s one of the things I love about historical romance, when it’s done right. I love to learn a historical tidbit that is woven into the plot. I once read a time travel book where the hero helped thwart an assassination plot against George Washington, and it was great.
Me- Wow! That sounds really interesting!
What was the inspiration behind your book, if any?
Linda- Probably my mother and all of the other wonderful people I’ve known in my life who were part of the Greatest Generation—hearing their stories and dreaming about that era – and I love watching WWII movies on Turner Classics, lol. I grew up on those.
Me- I love watching the old movies too. The Golden Age of Hollywood was indeed the best as far as movie output. I mean John Wayne, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart.. What more could you ask for? ;)
Linda- Ain’t it the truth ;)
Me- lol! Could you tell us a bit about the process of creating and developing the characters?
Linda- Hmm, well, for this series, I first planned my three guys and decided early on what their differences would be. I started with Gene (in the Sergeant book) and wanted him to be an all-around good guy, handsome (but not, as he says, Tyrone Power handsome), and the kind of man any woman would want. I decided on his temperament and personality, how he would react to things, etc. Then, I modeled Viv after my friend Verna Powell, and tried to emulate how she would react and speak. The other characters, like their friends, I kind of modeled after people I know or even family members (like I said, in the new book, the hero is a lot like my husband—teasing, silly at times, but hard working and serious when need be). Sometimes I get an actor/actress in mind for what they look like (especially, for my genre, actors of the Golden age of movies, like Tyrone Power, Gregory Peck, Bette Grable, Lana Turner, etc).
Me- Was the development process easier this time around due to the fact that the majority of the characters had already been introduced in the first book, Her Blue-Eyed Sergeant?
Linda- Yes definitely.
Me- All of 5 of your books have taken place in Kentucky and around the same time period/era. What about that particular era (30s/40s/50s) interests you/draws you in?
Linda- I think because it was a simpler time. People were more patriotic, loyal and hard working, decent, and more stick-it-out-for-the-long-haul, so to speak. Also, I adore the music back then—Swing music—I think it was wonderful and I grew up listening to my mom’s old records (along with modern stuff like the Beatles and Donny Osmond, lol). The 40’s particularly seems romantic to me. I love the cars, the clothes (especially the shoes!), the hairstyles, the makeup, the radio programs, the movies on the ‘big screen’ (i.e. Casablanca), and the lingo—some of it is hilarious—like if you really like something, it’s the “Killer-Diller”. :) As for them being based in Kentucky, I decided that will be my ‘flavor’, and every book I write will be centered around Kentucky, if not Louisville, and in various decades.
Me- Oh that’ll be interesting, to keep the theme of location going! Will there be a third book in the series?
Linda- Oh sure, it will be Her Blue-Eyed Lieutenant, and I’m aiming for a June of 2017 release.
Me- Oh boy! That’s exciting AND not too far away! Won’t have to wait too long, which I as a totally impatient reader, appreciate! Hehe ;)
Looking to the future: Do you have any plans to write another novel/series? Or are you planning to just take a break and see what happens?
Linda- You bet! I take a few weeks off between books, but I already have in mind a series that has the possibility of multiple books (like 8 or 9 or more). I stumbled upon some information that screamed for use in plots, lol. Then I want to do a series in Louisville at the turn of the century – Louisville has one of the largest sections of historic houses in the nation! Some of them built in the latter part of the 1800’s, large, beautiful mansions. We have the river traffic, and so many other things that can work into plots. Beyond that, I’d like to do a 1950’s series, showcasing music and cars from that era. A Flapper book or series is a possibility. An 1800’s book or series with people coming from the east before they venture out west. A Civil War series would be doable, in that Kentucky was half Confederate, half Union, think of the possibilities there, lol. If I run out of historical plots, I could always do a modern series. The ideas are endless—I wish I could type faster! LOL. I don’t plan on ever stopping, lol.
Me- Thank God for that! ;) Those ideas all sound excellent. I like the idea of a Flapper book, I’ve been binge watching Downton Abbey, so I’m all in the 20s mood lol ;) A Civil War series also sounds very interesting, especially due to the fact, as you stated, Kentucky was half and half. :) I look forward to reading many more from you!
Linda- Thank you so much Liz. It’s fans like you, with comments like that, that keep me writing!
Well, I suppose I have to bring this to an end at some point, lol. I’ve had a blast! I’m so glad and thankful that you agreed to this interview! I truly appreciate it! Do you have any last words to add before we sign off?
Linda- LOL I think I exhausted the subjects, didn’t I? ;) But seriously, thank YOU, Liz, for asking me to do an interview. I’m honored that you and your readers are interested in little old me, haha. Blessings to all.
Be Sure to Grab Linda's new release, out today!, Her Blue-Eyed Corporal- https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Eyed-Corporal-Soldiers-Swing-Book-ebook/dp/B06XCV3F3X/
Stay up-to-date with Linda Ellen through her website and social media, links below!
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Ellen/e/B00QDAXSSW/
Liz Austin. Born and raised in Upstate NY. Bibliophile. Writer. I would rather be reading....