Today we're chatting with author Linn B Halton about her new book, THE QUINTESSENTIAL GEMINI, and her upcoming release, THE RESTAURANT, published by Sapphire Star Publishing.
Welcome to We Do Write, Linn. Tell us a bit about yourself.
When you wait a long time to find the ‘me’ time you need to write, it’s an incredible feeling when it hits you that ‘this is it!’ I never, ever doubted the day would come, but it came rather suddenly and unexpectedly.
It wasn’t the planned and happy start I dreamed of, I had given up my job to look after my mother and she died very suddenly three months later. I decided not to go back to work after her death and after a long career, the thought of not being in employment is scary. It’s not only the financial considerations, but also being ‘home alone’. I’d had two distinctly different working careers (Finance and then Interior Design) and suddenly I found myself embarking on a third, new path that would mean long hours and no regular income. Worst of all – I was such a newbie I didn’t even know enough to understand what it was I didn’t know about the business of becoming published. But this is my dream, and because I’m a Gemini my passion takes over – I simply can’t stop myself because I’m loving every single minute of each day. I count myself as very fortunate that my family understand and support me in what has become my new, frenetic life. In essence:
“Life, love and the beyond … but it’s ALWAYS about the romance…”
How long have you been writing?
I began writing in March 2009 and wrote five manuscripts in succession, working way into the night and glued to my computer seven days a week at times. I proved to myself I could write with commitment, had lots of ideas and I am a starter/finisher, but I had no idea what came next. My debut novel came out in February 2011, but it wasn’t until December 2010 that I first heard the term ‘author platform’. At that time, with Touched By The Light due out within two months, I had to join Twitter, Facebook and set up an author website. To be honest I was struggling! I also couldn’t believe how time-consuming it was because every single step was a huge learning curve. Here we are eighteen months later and I have now signed with Sapphire Star Publishing, with two of those five manuscripts being published by them this year.
Tell us about THE QUINTESSENTIAL GEMINI. What's the story about?
It’s about Katherine Dale, she’s does her job a bit too well and office politics, plus new owners mean she’s suddenly replaced by ‘one of the boys’. She lived her life for her work, love interests came and went over the years with no one setting her alight. All she has left is a roof over her head, some modest savings and cat named No. 4.
She decides to sit down and write a book, partly because her confidence is badly dented and in a way she’s trying to hide from the reality of what’s happened. The fact that she lives her life according to her daily horoscope (and has done so for over twenty years) leads to fun, laughter, tears and ultimately, we hope, love.
The path isn’t smooth and as she anxiously seeks direction it becomes clear that the person writing those horoscopes is someone new. The revered astrologer Mark Ainsley-Thomas has to make more and more person appearances in the UK and US. His new Agent is pushing what has become an A-list celebrity status, so he takes on James Kingman to help out on the website. James arrives on the scene in a very vulnerable state – recently having lost his business, all of his money and the lady in his life. He is a talented astrologer, but his style is very different to Mark’s. Then he meets the angry and desperate Katherine…the sparks begin to fly!
How did the idea of the story come to you?
Well, I’m a Gemini and for over twenty years … (laugh)! Yes, I am a Gemini and I do follow my daily horoscope, so each night before I go to sleep I read my forecast for the following day. I like having an indication of what might happen and there have been many times when I’ve delayed doing something, or re-thought something based on what it tells me. One night the thought just popped into my head – what if someone really DID try to live their life based around what the stars had to say?
Of course no one can lead their life according to their horoscope, we all read things in a very different way and often there is more relevance in looking at them with hindsight. I think a lot of people read their horoscope hoping to get answers to questions, or an indication of solutions to come for problems they’re facing. So it’s only natural to read something and interpret it in quite a narrow way, simply because you want to make it fit with what you WANT to happen. There lies the danger… and that’s what made Katherine so much fun.
Tell us about THE RESTAURANT and what inspired you to write it.
My real-life favourite restaurant is a wonderful little sanctuary. It’s somewhere my husband and I go for ‘date night’ to get away and have some alone time together. It was the ambience that I feel whenever we go there that first sowed the seed of this story. I know one half of the couple who run it very well, we used to go to the gym together so often our travel time was spent talking about table bookings, staffing etc. All front-of-house day-to-day things. It gave me a glimpse behind the scenes and what began to spark my curiosity was that I knew very little about the Chef, secreted away in his own little domain creating all those wonderful dishes. The story of Hilary and Ben is the story of two people joined by a passion – the restaurant business, but both had reasons why affairs of the heart were never going to be simple.
The story revolves around the The Restaurant @ The Mill as Hilary and Ben find the perfect location to set up their joint venture. Their story is intertwined with another five cameo stories based on regulars who dine at the restaurant. Having written five manuscripts, four of which were novels, I realised that there were some ‘side’ characters whose stories were never taken to their final conclusion and so I’ve taken this opportunity to complete them within this novel. My tidy mind doesn’t like to leave things part-done and it was a very satisfying journey for me to write The Restaurant. There is also a lonely spirit who wanders around the wonderful old Mill, and the reader has a glimpse of what might lie behind her presence.
When will THE RESTAURANT be available?
Sapphire Star Publishing are releasing it on August 2, 2012 and preparations are in full swing.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
As a Gemini with borderline OCD, I’m both. I plan to the most minute detail, but also because I never say one word when I can say (or write) twenty, I ad-lib as the same time. I recently had to do a five minute slot at the start of a reader/writer event and over-ran by ten minutes. I think that’s why I’ve never enjoyed writing short stories and why I knew I had to wait until I had uninterrupted writing time, as it was always going to be an intensive and compulsive thing!
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Lack of sleep in order to pack in everything I want to do. I’m usually an eight-hours a night gal but frequently have to manage on four. Sometimes I work right through and try to cat-nap the next day then catch up with a full night’s sleep the following night. Life is short and I don’t intend wasting one precious moment of it.
What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
Coffee. My cat. Sometimes chocolate. Peace and quiet – I’ve had conversations with my husband whilst my fingers have continued flying around the keyboard and I’ve made responses that I often can’t remember afterwards. I recently (apparently) listened whilst he extolled the virtues of a very expensive new camera and agreed he should buy it - I couldn’t recall he’d even mentioned it! It was the same with a holiday he booked for later this summer and … oh, I think he’s sussed how to get a guaranteed ‘yes’ from me – clever!
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
To have the time to be there on EVERY occasion for people who need a bit of support; whether it’s listening to a problem, doing something for them, or just giving a hug. The drawback of being super busy and having your head buried in a life-time passion, is that sometimes you forget to look out the window! I hope I get the balance right most of the time and that those I love and care for forgive me when I miss something.
What's the weirdest thing you've googled?
Drifting. One of the characters in The Restaurant is into this sport, it involving sliding cars at high speed without putting them into a spin. It’s weird for me as I only drive when I have to, a car is simply a method of transport and I have no knowledge or understanding about them – I describe them as ‘big’ or ‘small’, or by colour, never make and model. Laugh! I also get lost frequently when I drive and am always doing U-turns.
If I consider ‘weird’ in another sense though, some people find psychic things a little ‘out there’ or beyond belief, but as I am a firm believer now it never feels unusual to me. Most psychic things I mention in my novels are things I have personally experienced, it’s so much easier to write with conviction when you’ve seen it with your own eyes. However, for my debut novel I did have to do a lot of research about near-death experiences, to supplement something I had myself witnessed when I was with someone who nearly died. At the time they were telling me what was happening from moment-to-moment but I wasn’t a true believer at that point, so it was a very frightening thing to witness.
Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: diluted, despicable, and dementia.
How can he take my words and repeat them in such a diluted, despicable manner – when love dies there is a guilt and I see now the spark has died within him, it’s like a form of dementia as he tries to rationalise his actions.
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
For me it’s all about the other people who have helped me, so it’s a case of where to begin? You might regret having asked me this question, but I can only answer from the heart!
Wonderful people like yourself who take the time to spread the word about new, fellow authors.
Fabulous publishers like Sapphire Star Publishing who read submissions from unknowns and decide to take a risk …
My two writing families – my colleagues at SSP and the whole team at loveahappyending.com, I have learnt so much because of these people and grown because of the support they have given me.
My wonderful husband and family for putting up with me, when I’m always on the PC.
Three individuals who have kept me going – Shaz Goodwin, Lou Graham and Kim Nash.
My first fan – Susan Livingston. She’s a lovely lady who has been so encouraging.
In truth this bit is so hard, because the list is endless – it’s still a thrill every time I read a review or get an Email from a reader. Every writer longs for one thing, to be read and my dream is slowly beginning to come true, thanks to wonderful readers who take a risk and pick up a book by an author they don’t yet know. How incredible is that?
And finally, where can people find you and your books online?
Visit Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Sapphire Star Publishing
Please do drop by my website http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Featured author at: http://loveahappyending.com/linn-b-halton/
I would also like to say a HUGE thank you, Dorothy, for being the perfect host! I bet you are so excited about your debut novel My Sister’s Reaper, due out on May 29, 2013 from Month9Books. Looking forward to it and wishing you all the best!
Thank you so much, Linn! It was great having you as a guest today. I wish you lots of success with your books!