Interview With Author Linda Shenton Matchett

Please introduce yourself and your books.

I am an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, I moved several times while growing up and now live in New Hampshire. I’ve been making up stories almost as long as I could hold a crayon. When I was young, my folks gave me a package of pencils and a tablet (that featured a bouquet of pencils on the cover) and told me to fill it. I’ve never looked back, but I didn’t get serious about publication until about fifteen years ago. I started freelancing for travel and lifestyle magazines, but my first love has always been fiction, so I wrote stories on the side. One of my blogmates suggested I seek publication. I write historical romance and mysteries, mostly set during WWII, but I’m beginning to branch out into other eras.

What are the real-life stories behind your books?

I have a background in corporate Human Resources, so I am fascinated by the history of women in the workforce and how employment for women changed during WWII. Most of my stories revolve around a female protagonist in a non-traditional role or situation, such as my amateur sleuth Ruth Brown who is a war correspondent. Other heroines are a Woman’s Land Army worker, a member of the French resistance, a conscientious objector, a USO performer, and a doctor in the U.S. Army.

What inspires your creativity?

The view from my office window. I look out into the woods that are beautiful no matter what time of year it is.

How do you deal with creative block?

I am fortunate in that I rarely suffer from creative block. I am a plotter, so my story is completely outlined before I begin to write. Having said that, there are times when the words don’t come as easily. When that happens, I set the timer for ten or fifteen minutes. Often the “sprint” gets the juices flowing again. If that tactic isn’t successful, I will select another chapter to write. As a last resort, I play one of my favorite songs, the write when the music finishes.

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Very interesting question! According to lots of “experts,” two-or-three-word titles are the most successful, so I tend to stick to that. Determining the title is the second thing I do after coming up with the story idea. Several of my titles are a play on words such as “Murder of Convenience” in which the protagonist is the prime suspect in her arranged marriage fiance’s murder. I’ve been learning a lot about genres and covers. More recently, I’ve been sticking with industry trends for my covers so readers don’t have to guess about my books’ genres. I think this is especially important for authors who don’t have name recognition.

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

In the beginning, poor reviews chipped away at my self-confidence as a writer. Fortunately, I have not received many. Over time I’ve come to realize that not every reader will enjoy my books. I don’t attempt to refute or reply to any of the reviews. I do read each one to see if there are trends in feedback in case there is something in a book that should be dealt with (corrected, etc.)

How has your creation process improved over time?

Since I’ve matured as a writer, my writing process has become more efficient. My outlines are more extensive which informs me about what topics need to be researched. I complete all research before I begin the story itself. In general, I write at the same time every day which creates sort of a “muscle memory.” If it is a certain time of day and I’m at my desk, my brain knows it’s time to write. I also have daily and weekly word goals which keep me on track with my publication schedule.

What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your books?

Another great question! First and foremost, people are the best thing associated with my books. The writing community is a warm, inviting group that welcomes fellow writers with open arms. Authors share information to help others navigate the sometimes confusing waters of publication, and readers encourage writers through leaving reviews and recommending their favorite authors through social media. I’ve met dozens of people I never would have known if it weren’t for my writing career. The worst (if that’s the word I must use) is when I have to miss special events with family or friends because of publishing deadlines. I try not to let that happen, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Most surprising: Perfect strangers buy my books! 

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

I strive for a balance between personal satisfaction and serving my readers. It was not intentional, but I fall in the demographic of my readers, so in some sense that makes the balance easier. I want to read an interesting story with complex characters, (and I think that’s what most readers want) so that is the kind of book I try to write.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

When I am under pressure or stress, I am not as creative. I’m not sure that I’m more creative when I’m happy or in an exceptionally good mood, but I’m definitely not as productive when I’m experiencing tension in some area of my life.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

Not particularly, but I try to be open to creativity at any moment of the day, not just when I’m sitting at my desk in “writer-mode.). I can’t guarantee that I’ll remember ideas, so I put them in a memo app on my phone. The next time I’m at my desk, I transfer the information to a pending folder, so it’s both electronic and hard copy.

What are your plans for future books?

In 2020 and subsequent years, I will be increasing my publishing schedule by releasing a book each month, rather than once per quarter as I have been doing. For the first half of 2020, I will be issuing stories set during WWII, and the second half of the year will see a combination of WWII and other time periods. I’m very excited about two multi-author projects I’m participating in. One is a series of books about mail order brides in the post-Civil War/pre-WWI era, and the other is a Bounty Hunter romance series that is in the early planning stage. I have lots of story idea percolating, so readers can expect some fun and intriguing books.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.

When I go out in public, I love to watch people and make up stories about them. (occupational hazard, I guess) In a restaurant I sit with my back to the wall so I can watch the other diners. I’d rather drive country roads than interstate highways, and I hate going over bridges!


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