"In the second Seer, Last Dance, Thorn's strong character was starting to take over the story," Linda told me. "I purposely kept her out of most of the next books in The Seer series. But when my publisher wanted to end The Seer, but continue on with the character Thorn, I gave her a big storyline in the final Seer book, Magician's Muse. One scene in particular, where a ditzy girl is holding the weapon in a murder much to the shock of Thorn, struck me as so funny when I wrote this scene that I burst out laughing. Also, I went to Nevada for research for Buried which is always fun. My publisher wanted the spin-off to have a new setting and since my family often goes to Reno, I chose that area for my story, although the town of Nevada Bluff's is totally fiction; based on the area between Reno and Carson City."
Her publisher, Flux, is waiting to see how the sales of Buried go before offering her a contract on a series, Linda is going ahead with another book about Goth Girl Thorn titled Reaper.
"This one is more romantic and a road trip involving a missing girl, an impersonator, a seance and a zombie dance. I've written nearly 100 pages so far and am just having fun writing without a looming deadline," she said.
She told me that she never considered whether she wanted to write or not, she just wrote because it's part of who she is. She feels driven to write, as if she was born to create stories. She still has stories she wrote when she was nine years old; words were like toys to her.
"I wrote poems, short stories, forced my siblings to act our plays I wrote and played a 'pick a random title' writing game with my best friend," she remembered. "I submitted my first work at age fourteen and received very encouraging rejections. I've never had a writing class, though, as my school didn't offer it and I worked instead of going to college, so I taught myself through writing, reading and joining writing groups. I sold my first book at age thirty."
She first considered herself an "author" though when she discovered she had sold an article to a local magazine.
"At my critique group one friend asked why I hadn't told her I'd sold to this magazine, and she showed me my published article -- days before I got the official letter and check. I'll never forget that first payment: $17.50. I almost didn't want to cash it...but of course I did," she said with a grin.
When she was young, she loved mysteries like Joan Lowery Nixon, Lois Duncan, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, and younger mysteries like Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, but it was the Judy Bolton series by Margaret Sutton that was special.
"It touched my heart in such a way that the characters felt like family to me. I wrote a fan letter to Margaret Sutton at age thirteen and not only did she reply but she encouraged my writing. When I was an adult, we co-write a new Judy Bolton mystery together titled The Talking Snowman."
She noticed that some YAs coming out remind her a lot of the adult romantic suspense novels she read by Victoria Holt, making her think that the YA market has blended with the adult market in a way.
"Lois Duncan's real life account of her daughter's murder in Who Killed My Daughter haunts me to this day, and is perhaps the reason I wanted to write about psychic characters. The real account of psychics and foretelling of terrible things in Duncan's book are fascinating and heart-breaking," she told me.
Linda usually starts with an interesting plot situation, then she grows the character from the conflict in the journey—pitting characters against each other or as allies for the changes ahead. For Buried, since Thorn is independent and shuns society, Linda matched her with a guy who is part of society, yet secretly fights for justice as a vigilante, so they have reasons to be friends as well as enemies. She also gave Thorn the conflict of wanting her family's respect, while at the same time needing to express her individuality. Thorn also has friends who are like her, so there are people she can trust.
"Each character comes out of the need to conflict/enhance other characters and ultimately the overall plot," she explained.
"What do you envision happening in the YA field in the next five to ten years?" I wondered.
"I have no idea -- things have been changing so fast. YA books were almost dead in the mid-90's when I wrote Sweet Dreams teen romances. These books about sixteen year olds with eighteen year olds on the covers were targeted to ten-fourteen year olds. Now that market would be called tween or even middle-grade. My The Seer series, which was first published in 2004, is younger in tone and style than most YA novels now. Readership of YA novels isn't limited to teens. I think the world is such a complicated place that adults turn to the genre they loved as teens for comfort reads. Or they simply recognize the quality of the genre with books like Hunger Games, Graceling, Matched, and Girl of Fire and Thorn. This is a golden age for teen books. Will it last another five or ten years? Probably but with less books from conventional publishing and more from online publishers."
Linda loves playing with titles, but many of them get changed during the editorial process so she's learned not to get too attached to them. The Seer was submitted as Psychic Sleuth. Another series, Regeneration, was originally going to be called Sci-Clones.
"Sometimes I am pleased with editorial title decisions, and other times not so much," she admitted. "But editors get the final decision and part of being a professional is accepting editorial changes gracefully."
When Linda was a little girl, she always admired homes with second stories.
"Stories, I guess, is a theme with me," she said with a grin, "and I can never get enough—fictional or architectural."
They built their own home, and her husband designed an upstairs office for her which opens from the staircase and has a turret-type corner with lots of windows.
She does her creative writing in the morning and, after lunch/exercise, she comes back to her computer for social networking and sometimes playing Zynga games.
About the Author: www.LindaJoySingleton.com.
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