Interview with Linda Joyce

Linda_Joyce_0342Tell us about your new release.

BEHIND THE MASK is a novella set in fictional Ascension, Louisiana. It has all the flavors of southern love story of two people who are reunited after suffering broken hearts years ago. I’m told by several readers, the love scene is not to be missed. Someone even said it is the steamiest of all the love scenes in all my books, but…I think I had little to do with it. I think it’s all about the long, smoldering attraction between Chalise Boudreau and Chaz Riboucheaux. Let’s blame it on them. hehe

What led you to write this book?

I went to Mardi Gras in 2013. My hubby had never been before and I wanted to be sure he had THE best time. Just taking in the sights, sounds, and scents…suddenly, the characters came to me. It was as though they pulled up chairs to our table at Café Du Monde when we were having hot chocolate and beignets. Chalise and Chaz started talking to me. Yes, my husband has gotten use to my brand of crazy…or at least he lets me think he has.

Behind_The_Mask  jpegDid you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Absolutely, though I didn’t know it at the time. A surprise trip, a gift from my husband, to Donaldsonville, Louisiana, became the seed-bed for sprouting all the ideas for BEHIND THE MASK.

On Valentine’s Day about eight years ago, I received an envelope. Inside was a plane ticket from Kansas City to New Orleans. Of course, I thought we were headed home, but my Hero had other ideas. After landing in NOLA, hubby rented a car and drove us to Bittersweet Plantation, owned by Chef John Folse and his wife—if you ever get the chance to go, don’t miss it! While we were there, we met the famous artist Alvin Batiste and purchased a painting. We saw photos of a sinking pirate ship and had many locals tell us the story behind the photos. Then, in May of 2013, I was asked to write a few short stories for a romance magazine. This year, I took the characters and the setting from the short story to write a novella with Chalise and Chaz.

How important is setting to your story?

Undeniably critical. In all my novels, setting is a character. Check out my book covers. They show how much I love setting. It influences so much about a reader’s experience. I want readers to see, feel, smell, and hear the elements of each setting. Also, I’ve been accused of making people hungry since I usually have food in each of my stories. If readers were to cook the dishes mentioned in my stories, it might make their reading experience even more powerful. Or at least, I can hope.

Which is more important characters or setting?

Please don’t make me choose. Please. There is no story without characters, but characters require a setting. Setting is almost always plays a part in the external conflict of my characters. Biloxi in Bayou Beckons doesn’t have to shovel sunshine ever, but Lia in Her Heart’s Desire sure has to shovel snow in the wintertime.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?

I don’t base my main characters on anyone I know in real life—because my main characters usually come to me fully formed and then, I must learn about what makes them tick. What their fears and desires are. My characters talk to me. We have conversations, sometimes at inopportune times—like when I’m in the shower.

Earlier this year, I spoke at a mixed writers group—writers of many different genres—and a young man, an attorney, approached me afterward with fear flickering in his eyes.

Him: “You said your characters talk to you. Do you actually hear voices like I’m talking to you now? No, it really is just your imagination, right?”

Me: “Well, if hearing them speak is just my imagination, then that’s news to me.”

Him: “No, really, you actually hear voices?”

Me: grinning, I shrugged.

The answer is YES! I hear voices talking to me. But I don’t want to scare people with my truth, so I let them use their imagination about what’s real.

Do you people watch for character inspiration?

My secondary characters are often based on people I know…know is a relative term. A chance meeting somewhere. I watch everywhere. If someone strikes me as amusing or interesting, I ask if I can take their picture. This helps me communicate the essence of their personality when I begin to write a new character. Like the nearly-seventy-year-old lady in the grocery store in Cincinnati with big “southern hair,” white jeans, red-white-and-blue flag shirt, and stilettos.

Or in Port Aransas, Texas, the woman who owned a everything-pink shop. Everything, including her car and her hair, this was long before the current trend of hair highlighting, was pink. I have a woman’s fiction story in mind, and Miss Pink will be a strong secondary character in that book someday.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

My birthday is Christmas Eve, so I think I’ve already met the best character there is to meet—Santa Clause. At least that’s the story that was suggested to me about how I arrived in my family. But truthfully, every book I read, in my mind, I’ve met and lived with those characters. I have a rich internal landscape with lots of book friends.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

I want readers to feel as though my female characters are women they would want as friends. Someone who is strong and carries on in the face of great adversity. Someone who is willing to look at their life and make changes to be a better person. Someone loyal. Someone kind. Someone flawed, but rich in integrity.

Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

I count things. I didn’t know this was an OCD trait until I read a Reader’s Digest story about a boy who counted telephone poles as he rode in the back seat of the family car. I find my brain starts counting and then my conscious mind suddenly realizes it—usually this behavior appears when I’m under the most stress. Everywhere I look, I see patterns and I count them.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Sadly, it’s been a very long four years. My momma had lung cancer, and after a four-year battle, died in May. Following her, in June, were two of my three fur babies, Masterpiece Renoir and Gentleman Jack. So for four years, I’ve had to fit writing in between all the needs of my family. I’m a reader, so I read something every day. I also enjoy painting and cooking. I love jazz and the blues—Chris Botti and Tab Benoit are “my guys.” I’m also big romantic comedy movie fan…and no, I’ve never written a romantic comedy, but maybe someday.

Which book impacted you as a teenager?

It wasn’t a book, it was an author—Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was in a finance class in college and a classmate finished a book and handed it to me. That’s when I got hooked on romance. And I enjoy feeding my addiction to this day.

Do you read the same genre you write?

I write contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I do read the same genre I write, just not while I’m writing. When I’m writing, crafting, and creating a new novel, I read historical, self-help, and inspirational non-fiction.

What is #1 on your bucket list?

Here’s a secret. I don’t have one. A bucket list that is. The most important things in life to me are love, music, good farm-to-table food, family, and my fur babies. I am so blessed to have all of that…everything else is gravy. But if you twist my arm, I’d love to spend a summer at Yellowstone National Park working in one of the gift shops for the summer and camping in a motorhome. (Don’t have the motorhome, so maybe that’s on my non-existent bucket list?)

Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?

I took a writing class with Nancy Knight. We had to write a synopsis for a horror story. There were 9 people in the class, of those, three were men. I wrote a synopsis for The Rose, which was based on a nightmare I had a couple of years after my brother was killed in a plane crash. In the class, each student had to read their synopsis aloud. When I finished, one of the men said, “Damn! The quiet ones will always get you.” I found his statement rather funny. I don’t think anyone had ever considered me quiet before.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?

When I first started writing, I did. I had a favorite chair, would light a favorite candle, would turn on some classical music and beg my three four-legged boys to “let momma write.” But when I moved from Kansas back to the south and family matters took control of my life, I learned to write when and where I’m able. Noise-cancelling headsets became a good friend. I’ve written in the middle of the night sitting in a recliner next to Momma’s bed in the hospital, in the room where she took chemo therapy, in the truck with my husband driving down the road on a trip between Atlanta and Largo, Florida. When your fingers itch to type and your head’s going to explode, you learn to adapt.

Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?

Kinda, sorta? Most of my stories deal with second chances. Second chances at love. Second chances to make amends. Second chances to prove loyalty. I guess I’m looking for second chances in my life.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading What a Duke Desires by Sabrina Jefferies, How to Read the Akashic Records by Linda Howe, and a back log of Writer’s Digest magazines. If you want a book to help you through life, I highly recommend Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you want a book on how to improve your relationships, try Dr. John Gray’s Men, Women and Relationships. If you want a romance, send me an email and I’ll make lots of suggestions.

What social media do you participate in?

I’m learning periscope—only done it one. I’m happy with Skype for book clubs. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and I have a blog on my website. Oh, and there’s my YouTube Channel! Video interviews with that special southern setting.

Website: http://www.linda-joyce.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindaJoyceAuthor

Twitter: @LJWriter https://twitter.com/LJWriter

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950241.Linda_Joyce

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Joyce/e/B00BODDROS/

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/LindaJoyceWorld/boards/http://pinterest.com/LindaJoyceWorld/boards/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/lindajoycewrites

Google+:   https://plus.google.com/+LindaJoyce/posts

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrjZh-TMFbeN1k7BlWAAxeA

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

“What do you enjoy about meeting readers?” First of all, I am an introvert. I appear “talky” because it’s my coping strategy when I’m nervous. However, I do love meeting readers because I love connecting with people. I grew up Air Force and lived in many places. My parents gave us the gift of travel wherever we lived, so I’ve seen many places. Meeting someone new and finding out that we have a book in common is wonderful, but finding out that we have more in common is fabulous—like a love of place, or music, or food, or animals. I hope that after people meet me, they walk away thinking that we will stay in touch and be friends.

What’s next for you?

I am sooo excited! I have four—yes, four—novellas in production right now. My Fleur de Lis series will have a companion series—Fleur de Lis Brides—coming out soon. It’s a trilogy. Each novella will release as an eBook novella, and when the third novella is released, a print version will be available that includes all three stories. The titles are simple: Branna: Fleur de Lis Brides, book one, Biloxi: Fleur de Lis Brides, book two, and Camilla: Fleur de Lis Brides, book three.

At the same time, I am thrilled to have Christmas Bells as a novella in the Love & Grace anthology. The book will release on September 1st. For the first 90 days, ALL sales are donated to Gracepoint, which is a school that specializes in helping students with dyslexia. After 90 days, I will get my rights back, and I’ll self-publish the book in time for Christmas. Christmas Bells is a sweet romance. Here’s the blurb:

After grieving the loss of her husband and son, TV host Morgan Marshall is ready to embrace life again. But she won’t risk a relationship with the father of her favorite cooking student, Avery, since the girl’s happiness is more important than her own.

Advertising executive Alex Blake never thought another woman could pique his interest after losing his wife to cancer. Yet every time he’s in Morgan’s presence, she brings sunlight into the room. Plus, she’s a role model for his daughter, always assuring Avery that dyslexia can’t hold her back. But if he asks Morgan for a date and then she refuses a second one, the person he loves the most, Avery, could get hurt the worst because she adores Morgan.

When Alex is injured in a fall Morgan insists on caring for him and Avery. As they share holiday fun, Avery topples Morgan’s beloved crystal bell collection, shattering it to pieces. Through it all, they discover love of one another is more priceless than any object money can buy. Love rings in the air at Christmastime.

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