Please help me welcome Linda Grimes, author of IN A FIX (2012, Tor Books) and member of the Debutante Ball’s Class of 2012!
I met Linda through The Debutante Ball blog, where she recently spent a year as the Friday blogging debutante, preparing for this week’s release of IN A FIX – which I’m looking forward to reading!
I appreciate Linda taking the time to join us here at the blog during her launch week. And so, with no further ado … on with the questions!
1. Where did you grow up? Will you share a favorite story from your childhood?
The great state of Texas. San Antonio, to be precise, where the summers are hotter than hell, and if you blink you’ll miss winter.
As for a story…hmm. Let’s see. It’s hard to decide between The Great Whip’n Chill Debacle (that’s a dessert product, not real whip, by the way), the time I time I almost gave my babysitter a heart attack by faking a fever of 106, and my first real kiss.
How about the short versions of all three?
(a.) I was ten. I made Whip’n Chill parfaits for dessert. My brother pushed my strawberry garnish down to the bottom of my beautifully layered confection. I took exception. Mayhem ensued, resulting in chocolate mousse-like dessert & whipped cream on walls all over the house. We cleaned up, but not very well. Mom never did figure out what the brown spots all over the kitchen appliances were, thank goodness.
(b.) I was eight. Figured out if you held the thermometer under hot running water, interesting things happened. Thought it would be hilarious (hey, I was eight!) to fool the babysitter. Even warmed up my forehead by the bathroom heater, because I knew she’d double-check. This one backfired on me, because she dumped me in a tub of cold water to bring my fever down when she thought I was going into convulsions (I was laughing really hard). I guess we were even after that.
(c.) I was fifteen. One of my brother’s friends (who was very popular in high school) finally figured out I was a girl. (To be fair, before then it had been kind of hard to tell.) When it became apparent he was going to try to kiss me, I got nervous and stuffed potato chips in my mouth. He didn’t realize it until our lips connected. So my first serious kiss was salty. And crunchy. And over very fast, never to be repeated by Mr. Hotness.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
It sounds like a cliché, but reading. Every time I read a book I loved, I wanted to be able to do that myself. And if I happened across a book I didn’t love so much…well, then I wanted to fix it. Rewrite it my way. Eventually it occurred to me to try writing one myself, and doing it the way I wanted from the get-go.
3. If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
“Newbie-Linda,” I’d say, “relax. Enjoy the process, especially this early part when it’s all possibility and no real deadlines. Write the book you want to read, and trust that other people will want to read it too.”
4. Your novel, IN A FIX, features Ciel, an aura-adapter who literally “becomes” her clients in order to help solve the clients’ problems. What was the most challenging aspect of writing a novel where the protagonist spends most of her time as someone other than herself?
Well, Ciel is always herself on the inside. She may employ her own special brand of “method acting,” but she never loses sight of who she is. I guess the most challenging thing was keeping track of which auras the main characters were projecting in any given scene, so I wouldn’t mistakenly put in the wrong physical description. “Tall, dark, and handsome” won’t cut it when you’re supposedly looking at “short, gray, and elderly.”
5. Ciel’s ability to become someone else by adapting energy rather than literal shape-shifting is a new and exciting idea, and one that readers will love. What inspired you to create such an unusual and compelling protagonist?
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being able to be someone (or many someones) else. (That’s probably why I was into acting before I started writing.) When I saw the name “Ciel” on a license plate, the whole concept seemed to coalesce into one character who could do exactly that—become anyone she wanted.
6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why?
Diana Gabaldon’s books make my heart go pitty-pat. Just seeing one has been known to make me salivate in anticipation of an incredible read. They are big and fat, and crammed with adventure, romance, mystery, and emotion. What’s not to love?
7. In a Fix is an urban fantasy featuring action, mystery, explosions and even a crew of modern-day Viking kidnappers – it’s an exciting book, which usually means it was fun to write as well. What is your favorite scene … and why does it stand out for you?
Now, that is tough to say. There are so many I love! Oh, wait—does that sound conceited? I don’t mean it that way. I just really like working with these characters. Which is good, because I spend a lot of time with them.
But if I have to choose … okay, there’s a scene where Ciel is up a tree, and it’s not…um, convenient, shall we say?…for her to come down, and she reeeally has to relieve herself, if you get my drift. Let’s just say she has to get creative about it, and leave it at that. I laughed myself silly while I was writing it.
8. What is the last book you read, and why did you read it?
I read an ARC of PIVOT POINT, a book by one of my “agency sisters.” Our agent, the fabulous Michelle Wolfson, does agency ARC tours of her clients’ books, so we get to read early. I read it because it showed up on my doorstep and, even though I was deep in my own work, I couldn’t resist it. It’s so good! Get ready for it to make a big splash come February.
9. How long did it take you to write In a Fix, and what did you find most difficult about the writing process? How did you push yourself to get past those difficult moments in writing and editing?
Gosh, I’m horrible at keeping track of writing time. I want to say it took about ten months. Maybe a year? The most difficult thing about the process was not putting every other thing on my agenda ahead of writing. Before you sell a book it’s easy to put your writing “hobby” on the back burner. At least, it was for me. I’ve gotten a whole lot better about putting my writing first now. It’s amazing how motivating deadlines can be.
10. What piece of advice would you most like to share with authors preparing to publish or in the process of publishing debut novels?
Make yourself take the time to stop and smell those proverbial roses. This is something you’ve worked hard for, probably for a long time. It gets unbelievably hectic around the time of your book release, and if you don’t take the occasional moment to breathe and let the fact that you did it soak in…well, the moment will evaporate. Don’t let the moment evaporate.
11. Do you have any upcoming signings or readings?
I have an “Author Event” (doesn’t that sound grand?) at the Barnes & Noble nearest me (the Spectrum Center in Reston, VA), at 2 PM on Saturday, September 8. If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and say hi!
And now, the speed round:
– Plotter or pantser?
– Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
Tea in the morning, bourbon at night. Coffee sporadically.
– Socks or no socks?
– Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
– For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
Thank you for inviting me to your blog!
And thank you, Linda, for joining us today!
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiance is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years – both skilled adaptors – step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.
And a little more about Linda Grimes:
Linda grew up in Texas, and now resides in Virginia with her husband, whom she snagged after he saw her perform a rousing chorus of “If You Wanna Catch a Fish You Gotta Wiggle Your Bait” at the theater where they worked. Like her main character, Linda has spent her share of time overseas, though fortunately under less stressful circumstances. Kidnapping and daring rescues are fine in fiction, but she prefers sanity in real life.
You can find Linda on the web at: http://www.lindagrimes.com/
Thanks again, Linda, and I look forward to reading IN A FIX!