If you’ve read Linda Griffin’s previous novels and have been yearning for more, you’re in luck: her sweet romance novel, Bridges, was recently published by The Wild Rose Press. (Check out that gorgeous cover!) Linda joins us today to chat about Bridges and its characters, her impressive backlist, the mechanics behind the muse, why she’d rather be sixty than twenty, and much more.
Welcome, Linda—and congratulations on the publication of your newest novel! What can you tell us about Bridges?
Years ago, I saw a French film about a chauffeur and noticed that his job involved a lot of waiting time, which seemed ideal for someone who likes to read. The character of Mary Claire came to me just as she is on the page, and all I had to do was introduce them. The story is a slow-burning sweet romance, an old-fashioned change of pace after four romantic suspense titles. The more formal tone I attribute to the influence of the classic novels I was reading when I wrote the first draft.
Who is Neil? What makes him tick?
He is a war veteran working as a chauffeur. He loves the peace and quiet of Westfield Court after his military career and the free time for his true passion—books! He’s in an ongoing casual relationship, and the last thing he expects is a friendship with a young blind girl.
How did you get interested in the romance genre?
I suppose it began with reading magazine stories in my teens. I never try to stick to a particular genre—I just write the story that wants to be told. Most of my novels are romantic suspense, even if they didn’t start that way, but in Bridges the only body to turn up is at the grandfather’s funeral.
You have an intriguing backlist. Can give you us a one-sentence summary of each of those books?
Seventeen Days is a small-town romance between a just-divorced illustrator and a widowed Latino handyman who finds himself accused of murder. The Rebound Effect is more of a psychological thriller in which the single mother of a deaf son is swept off her feet by a sexy SWAT officer who may be more than she can handle. Guilty Knowledge is a police procedural/interracial romance, following a detective’s investigation into a brutal murder and his growing involvement with a witness who may be lying. Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is about a man who expresses himself through cooking, but finds it isn’t enough to win a tough cop’s heart or untangle the mystery of his boss’s murder.
How old were you when you wrote your first story?
I was six years old. It was called “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a Little Lulu comic book.
Are you an outliner or a pantser?
I’m primarily a pantser. I usually only outline when the story is well begun and I need to keep track of the chronology. Sometimes I have an approximate idea of the arc of the story, but even then the characters will have their own way.
Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch?
My characters are almost entirely fictional. The only real person I’ve made much use of is myself, here and there. The one who is most like me is Teresa in The Rebound Effect. We share pet peeves, mild claustrophobia, and the search for beauty. She even wears my favorite T-shirts. Like Neil in Bridges, I’m an atheist with a great respect for people of faith and suffer from cremniphobia—fear of precipices.
What is your favorite part, and least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
My favorite part is editing and working with my wonderful editor, Nan Swanson, but I find satisfaction in every step of the process. Promotion is always challenging for authors, but there are parts of that I enjoy too—like answering these fun questions! My least favorite part would be the waiting—waiting for a contract, edits, galleys, cover art, a publication date, pre-orders, release day, reviews…
How do you deal with reviews, both positive and negative?
I always try to keep in mind a quote from Richard P. Brickner in his memoir My Second Twenty Years—“A novel…is, to its author, literally as huge as an ocean, no matter how mere a glass of water it may be to a reader.” Whether or not a particular reader likes my drink of water, it’s still my ocean, and I’m enjoying the swim.
Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so, how do you overcome it?
If my characters stop speaking to me, is that writer’s block, or is the level of creativity in the universe just low? I have an actual writer’s block, a wooden cube hand decorated by my sister that sits above my desk. I read an article years ago that said there’s no such thing as writer’s block but advised writing scenes out of order when you get stuck, and I found that enormously freeing. It’s counterintuitive for a pantser, but it can all be worked out in the revisions.
What was your favorite childhood book?
Probably Half Magic by Edward Eager. I can still recite the first few pages by heart, and the copy my mother got for me from the Children’s Book of the Month Club when I was in fourth grade sits in the bookcase in my bedroom.
If you could bring a fictitious character to life and spend time with that person, who would it be?
It would probably be Bracken Murray from Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. When I was in high school and college, he was my ideal man, a journalist whose job took him all over the world, including up San Juan Hill, and who was head over heels in love with young Dinah Campion.
What was your favorite thing to do when you were a kid?
Read, of course! As soon as I learned to read, I was hooked. I read my first Dick and Jane reader out loud to everybody in the house, including two captive kittens, one under each arm, and then I read it backward. When I wasn’t reading, I was often playing pretend games inspired by books I’d read.
What’s something that’s on your bucket list?
I’d like to see the Netherlands before climate change submerges it.
If you had to be reincarnated as an animal, what kind of animal would you choose to be?
Definitely a cat. I like their independence and individuality and their ability to land on their feet. Humans domesticated dogs and other animals, but cats domesticated us.
Would you rather…
Lose the ability to read or lose the ability to speak?
Speak, especially if I could learn sign language or communicate with written notes. It might be frustrating, but if I couldn’t read, I wouldn’t be me.
Be in jail for a year or die one year sooner than you would have otherwise?
That’s a tough one. I don’t think I would do very well in jail, but it would be great source material for a story.
Be twenty and dirt-poor or sixty and fabulously wealthy?
I’d rather be sixty than twenty regardless of finances. Youth is overrated! Sixty is calmer and wiser and if you’re lucky you can retire and spend more time reading and writing and traveling. Give me sixty every time!
Never have to clean a bathroom again or never have to do dishes again?
Never clean a bathroom, even though I don’t mind it that much. I like washing dishes, preferably while someone reads to me. As a child I would pretend the bowls and pans were boats and the silverware were people sailing in them. My siblings and I took turns washing, and my sister and I soon started reading to each other to make the time pass more quickly.
Back-cover blurb for Bridges:
In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist,” is working at Westfield Court as a chauffeur. He spends most of his spare time reading. Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child. Neil and Mary Claire shouldn’t even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?
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