Focus: Linda, when you first began your writing career, what words of wisdom helped you the most?
Linda Windsor: My career launched solo. I never knew of writers' organizations, much less of writers willing to share their advice, until after I was published. The best advice I've heard since is to read voraciously, not just your genre, but others as well. Now for my two cents added, study the books you like the best to determine what it is about them that trips your trigger. Outline them to determine the pacing that kept you reading as the plot, relationship, and spiritual journey were resolved. Chances are, you will learn and be inspired by doing this.
Focus: How many books have you written for the Christian market?
Linda Windsor: Eight, including a novella.
Focus: Rumor has it that you've just signed a contract for a three book, romantic comedy series with Thomas Nelson Publishers. Can you tell our readers a little about what they have to look forward to?
Linda Windsor: The rumor is true! I am writing a family trilogy tentatively called The Moonstruck Madisons--all romantic comedies with a dash of suspense as in Along Came Jones.
Two single parents chaperone a teen class trip across Mexico in That Mexicali Moon--but who is going to chaperone them? And what have those kids done that has a Mexican criminal following them about?
In Over The Moon, the prodigal younger brother of book one's Harrison Ford/Sabrina-like character, is sent to the mission visited in the first book of the series to restore a hacienda for an orphanage and learns a few lessons in humility and love from a spunky nurse and some precocious kids. If living on Mexican time and the superstition of the hacienda's "ghost" doesn't drive the architect insane, his fickle heart will.
Lastly, the Madison baby sister sets out to excavate a shipwreck. That is, if the cynical captain she hired can keep his rust bucket of a ship afloat long enough to bring up the artifacts before it joins them at the bottom of the sea. In Once In A Blue Moon, it's dreamer vs. schemer in a bantering match for treasure and the score is love-love. Until another player joins the game with less than noble motives.
Focus: You wrote a number of books for the secular market before you began writing Christian fiction. Can you tell us why you made the change?
Linda Windsor: Honestly, at first I didn't want to change. When I was first published, I was newly returned to my faith. When the market hit a slump some 16 books later, it gradually became my only option. Based on a couple of mediocre reads, I felt CBA romance was unrealistic, preachy and boring. I was to find out that is not always the case. Looking back, I see that God closed the doors to force me to consider the CBA market seriously. Picture Jonah in the whale's belly--for four years! Okay, I'm a slow learner.
Focus: Would you share a little with us about your Christian testimony?
Linda Windsor: God has given me many testimonies, but the one that led me back to Christ personally began with my son's learning disability and my daughter's stubbornness. I had to put my son in a private school. The closest, most affordable one was a Christian school, so, having no objections to the Christian faith, just a lot of unresolved questions, I put both children in it. The faith of the children and staff made me fight tears every time I went there. My kids came home knowing more of my faith than I ever had. And my daughter begged me to go to church.
I struggled with this issue for a year before finally conceding. I had my issues, but the children had the right to their faith. Feeling like a hypocrite for my doubts regarding Christ (never God the Father and Creator) I took my daughter to a Good Friday service--a 24 hr. collective community service--hoping she'd get her fill and be done with it. Instead I was nailed on Good Friday to the cross.
The speaker began with, "I'd like to talk to you today about Doubting Thomas." Talk about me squirming! "And why Christ chose the skeptic as a disciple." I was assured that Christ understood human doubt and forgave it, as long as we earnestly sought the truth. Seek and we will find. I realized that I'd been an armchair philosopher, eager to disprove what I could of Christianity, instead of looking for what I COULD believe in. And where could I find it, but in church? God would forgive my doubt because I was looking. There, I found what I did believe in, led me to accept that which I could not yet fathom, leaving me confident that in God's time, it would come.
Focus: You've been called the "Master of Banter". Having read and laughed uncontrollably through all of your books, I can certainly see why. Other than your side-ripping humor, I've also appreciated your honesty-specifically about your battle with chemical depression. Would you be willing to share how your sense of humor has been a help to you during your struggle?
Linda Windsor: "Master of Banter?" I'm flattered, but have to admit, my 'mastery'--if you call it that--comes from arguing with myself so much. (Don't tell the men in the little white coats!) And I'm a wiseacre. Younger brothers helped me hone my sparring skills. I believe God gave me an overdose of humor. I see it where others see the mundane or nuisance. It is truly a heavenly gift to me with my depression. I've learned to laugh when others get angry or cry.
You see, once it's identified, I have a choice as to how I react to something that is beyond my control to stop. It takes conditioning-discipline. Chemical or biological depression is a physical ailment, not unlike diabetes with its poor insulin production. My brain doesn't make enough of the stress-battling chemicals. I take meds to stimulate that production. When medicine fails, as it sometimes will, I know in my heart that I've done everything I can humanly do. I also know that it will pass. Scripture says "It came to pass." Never "It came to stay." So, I can either laugh at my poor pitiful self--which I know is temporary--or cry. I choose to laugh...especially at my absent-mindedness. I am such a ditz, which, I fear, comes through in my characters. In those dark times when even I can't laugh, I pray, imagining God wrapping me in His arms like a wounded child and I sleep.
The biggest argument I ever had with myself was over the guilt I felt as a depressed Christian...and I was losing. How could I be a good Christian and be depressed at the same time? I made it the central issue for the heroine in Along Came Jones, knowing many struggle with feeling abandoned by God and the guilt of that feeling is heaped on top of it. Then I was asked to speak on one of the seven sayings of Christ on the cross one Good Friday--"Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" God won with His answer. He revealed to me that Christ said those words at the end of His human endurance, showing me that even the Son of God knew and understood our limits. And He shows us how to reach beyond them, not with feelings--which are temporal, and often at odds with what we know to be true--but with faith. He later said, "I thirst." God revealed to me that it was not for water, but for the living water of His Father/The Word. He believed beyond human feelings. And then He said, "Into thy hands I commend my Spirit." He was at peace with His knowledge, his feelings of abandonment left behind.
Focus: Your writing and your website clearly demonstrate how important family is in your life. How do you maintain a balance between writing and family responsibilities?
Linda Windsor: I am very blessed to have a supportive family that can do nicely without mom when a deadline looms. It's every writer's dream. I also am working on spacing books further apart, to allow for a life away from the keyboard. It takes discipline and prayer to make room for a career in writing and as a wife, mom, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, and part-time financial consultant for the family business, I'm not as successful as I'd like to be. It's so easy to let writing become one's god, in that it consumes so much time, thought, and effort. Prioritizing what needs to be done is essential. Then re-prioritize frequently!
Focus: Besides writing stories that pull on our heartstrings and pound on our funny bones, you have another lesser-known talent. Can you tell us what the name "Homespun" means to you?
Linda Windsor: HOW on earth did you find that out? My husband and I had a country/old rock and roll band called Homespun from 1979-1990. He and I both sang lead, harmony, and played rhythm guitar. I also played the keyboard and assorted 'noise-makes' like the tambourine, woodblock, afuchi, etc. We still play and sing, but in a music ministry...and around the kitchen table with fellow musicians and friends.
Focus: I loved your book Not Exactly Eden. Did you visit the Amazon to do your research? If not, how challenging was it to get the details right without actually going there?
Linda Windsor: Great-googa-mooga, no! Never went there. I am as close to the Amazon as I ever hope to be. I don't like bugs and getting overheated makes me irritable. Grin! But you are not the first to ask that question. One of my favorite research sources is journals or travel writing. I have six accounts of various trips to and stays in Mexico for book one of the Moonstruck series.
These firsthand accounts capture all that the five senses can detect, painting 3D pictures in the author's mind, so that he/she can do the same for the reader. For Not Exactly Eden, I had a book written by a lady doctor who went to the Amazon on an eco-vacation and decided to set up a clinic there for the Indians. I also used a book written by a documentary photographer for a network like National Geographic, describing his work and travel experiences there. Between the two, I had ample firsthand knowledge and experiences that I could pass along to my characters.
Focus: Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Linda Windsor: Everywhere. I find it in daily devotionals, movies, TV sitcoms, books, sermons, Scripture, life in general. My four-year-old nephew, when asked how he got so smart, answered, "I just take it all in here." He folded his hands over his little chest, blue eyes wide and solemn. "Then it all (his wisdom) just comes out," he adds with a shrug, as though he just can't help it.
I'm not as gifted as my nephew, but I take experiences--personal and vicarious--in like pieces of dozens of jigsaw puzzles and somehow, they sort, and eventually become the idea for books. The book with the most pieces is the one I write next. I find the rest of the missing bits in my specific research, once the idea has formed. In the mid 1990's, I built an entire book/plot based on a trip to a museum in Hawaii where I saw a clay chamber pot embedded with human teeth. Humor kicking into full gear, I could just imagine the horror of some prim heroine seeking relief and finding that hideous thing gaping at her in lieu of the Victorian porcelain she was accustomed to. How would you like teeth embedded in your potty seat? Grin! By the time I left Hawaii, I had a plot, all based on questions regarding what would cause a heroine to find herself in such a dilemma.
Focus: Is there a particular book among those you've written that you would especially recommend to our readers? If so, why?
Linda Windsor: I would recommend Maire, book one of the Fires Of Gleannmara series. Why? Because Maire and the other two Gleannmara books are not only the books of my heart, but the research I did on early Christian Ireland answered my prayer to bring my daughter back to Christ from Wicca. She'd been stalked and assaulted in college and, angry with God, began to explore and practice white witchcraft. Nothing I could quote from the Bible would impress her. But when I discovered the real history about the Irish druids--how those who really sought truth and light accepted Christ--I finally had the witness I needed to get her attention. After seven long, prayer-filled years, I held my daughter at the altar as she tearfully accepted Christ back into her life. (The same daughter who led me to Him on Good Friday years before.) Life is full of circles, dear Readers, remember and take comfort in that when praying for a loved one who has strayed from their faith.
Focus: What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
Linda Windsor: It used to be to make a career of writing. But God upped the ante on me when I realized that He was using me as His instrument to minister to others through that writing. Now it is a mission to bring the Word to readers through 'parables' laced with humor, heart, and soul.
Focus: How can your readers and fans encourage you?
Linda Windsor: I love hearing from them when they visit my website. And if they really enjoy a book, I pray they will recommend it to others. There is no support like word of mouth testimony. Without sufficient sales numbers, no matter how good an author is, or how many awards he/she has won, the publishers, who must look at the bottom line, will let the writer go. This has happened to me twice in my thirteen-year career, despite rave reviews and awards. That said, God also used those times to take me to a better place, so I can't really complain. Only God can take our disappointments and turn them into new hope. Yet I know He must chuckle in the interim, watching me gnaw my knuckles and give Him glory at the same time. The feelings/gnawing is temporal, but the faith/glory-giving is eternal. Like the title of one of my favorite non-fiction books that says something like this: GOD HAS NEVER LET ME DOWN, BUT HE'S SCARED ME TO DEATH A FEW TIMES.
Focus: Is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
Linda Windsor: Yes. You each have at least one special talent. Make the most of it and give God the glory for it. He made you. He makes no mistakes. He loves each and every one of you for who you are. He made you to laugh and to love, to share your joy and, sometimes sorrows, with Him, but never to walk without Him. When you laugh or cry while reading one of my books, remember, it is not the author who touches your heart and humor, but the God who made you to laugh and love. It's not the author who soothes your battered soul, but the God who holds you in His everlasting arms. And when I hear from you that you giggled or were touched or comforted, then I am humbled to be His instrument. I also rejoice at your news, because it means that every once in a while I get His instructions right!
Focus on Fiction is pleased to feature
Linda is a native of Maryland's Eastern Shore, where she lives in a late-eighteenth-century Victorian farmhouse with her family. Linda graduated from Salisbury State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Since 1990, she has authored nineteen historical novels and several contemporary novels. Her titles include It Had to Be You; Hi, Honey, I'm Home; and Not Exactly Eden; as well as the award-winning Fires of Gleannmara series.