Interview With Author Linda Covella

Please introduce yourself and your books.

My mother, who was a school librarian and an artist, showed me the wonder and joy of reading. Today, I must always have a book to read. She also taught me how to draw and paint. While growing up, I wrote and illustrated stories, including a fairy tale about an elf and her dragonfly and a story about a bear that visited my family’s campsite. Art is now a hobby, but writing continues to be a lifelong passion. My novels—all award winners—include Cryptogram Chaos, A Virtual Reality Adventure; Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for teens; two novels in the Ghost Whisperer series: The Castle Blues Quake and The Ghosts of Pebble Brook Lodge. My latest book is nonfiction picture book for ages 5 and up called The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer.I live in Santa Cruz (where the Ghost Whisperer books take place) with my husband Charlie and our very spoiled dog, Ginger.

What are the stories behind your books?

Before researching and writing Yakimali’s Gift and The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer, I knew nothing about the 1775 colonization expedition from Mexico to California led by Juan Bautista de Anza. Years ago, I wrote (but never published) a children’s story in which kids tell how their ancestors came to America throughout the history of the United States. When researching this, I discovered the Anza expedition. I was really surprised I’d never heard of it before or that it hadn’t been taught in school, especially since I grew up in California. I love and believe in our country’s diversity, and this was one of the historical events I wanted people to know about, and I wanted to focus on the children’s and women’s experiences on the journey.

I’ve always liked ghost stories, so that partially inspired my Ghost Whisperer series, which takes place in Santa Cruz where I live. Book one, The Castle Blues Quake, involves an earthquake, of which I’ve experienced numerous times living in California. Part of the plot for book two, The Ghosts of Pebble Brook Lodge, was inspired by a true story of a girl drowning in a creek that runs through the dining room of the local Brookdale Lodge. You can see pictures of the real lodge on my website.

And with Cryptogram Chaos, I was tired of seeing computer games with all the fighting and killing, so my fourteen-year-old characters create a game where gamers advance to different levels by answering secret codes, or cryptograms. (Readers can solve the cryptograms as well; the answers are in the back of the book.) Each of the three levels has increasingly exciting things for the gamers to do, such as eat all the candy and ice cream they want, undersea adventures, racing cars, bungee jumping, and becoming powerful avatars. When an evil avatar takes control of the game, the kids must go in and save gamers from virtual—and real—disaster.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

My inspiration for my books comes from many places: personal experiences, people and children I know or observe, places I’ve been, books, news items, and other publications I’ve read.

How do you deal with creative block?

For me, the best thing to do is just write. Even if I’m not focused on my current work-in-progress (WIP), I believe writing anything helps me break out of writer’s block. I also have a very hard time doing my first draft because I want to edit as I go, finding just the right word or phrase, etc. This slows me down terribly, so I have to make myself “just write,” pound that keyboard!

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I believe the biggest mistake a writer can make is not having his/her book copy edited for grammar and punctuation errors. It’s also helpful to have beta readers or critique group members read the book and provide feedback on the concept, plot/plot holes, characters, etc.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

Luckily, I haven’t had any negative reviews yet, though a few readers in their otherwise positive review commented on minor aspects that bothered them. Authors are generally advised to never respond to a negative review, and I would take that advice. I doubt I would do any revision based on the review, but it can be helpful to seriously consider the negative aspects that the reader points out.

Of course, “negative” feedback from my critique partners is a different story. I value their criticism, which is always constructive and helpful. They really help me shape my stories for the better.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Yes, I try to balance the two. I want my books to satisfy, entertain, and possibly teach my readers. I also want to like the stories I write; when I go back and reread them, I want to be happy with the result and not think, Oh no, why did I write that!?

I balance the two by immersing myself into the story as much as possible. I think that helps create a richer plot and more real, relatable characters, so hopefully both my readers and myself are satisfied.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

Emotions are a critical component of creativity, both for the artist and for the audience.

When writing, the author experiences a range of emotions: exhilaration, frustration, doubt, joy, pride, the list goes on! It’s important for writers to include emotions in creating well-rounded characters. Emotions draw a reader into the story.

As for readers, they can experience different emotions themselves, depending on the plot: humor, fear, excitement, surprise, etc.

What are your plans for future books?

Right now, I’m working on the third and final Ghost Whisperer book. All three books in the series can be read as stand-alones, in any order.

I also love to cook, and have an idea for a cookbook. But that’s all I can say at this time!



Twitter: @lindacovella







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