Thursday, 18 April 2013

Author Linda MacDonald joins me on her whirlwind blog tour

I'm absolutely over the moon to be joined today by the lovely Linda MacDonald.  Linda is the author of brilliant book which I read recently called Meeting Lydia and I've got lots of questions for her so let's get cracking shall we Linda? Thanks so much for popping over for a chat today. Hope the coffee and croissants were ok for you.

Thanks Kim, they were perfect. Thanks for having me over today. I'm a bit worn out with all these blog stops but it really is great fun.  I'd also like to tell your readers about my international giveaway.

The giveaway for the whole tour is for two signed paperback copies of Meeting Lydia with further prizes of signed postcards and bookmarks. To enter leave a comment on this post! Two weeks after the tour ends, I will select the winners from the comments on all blogs taking part in the tour.
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Please leave a blog comment on my page using the comments section below, and then click through to the rafflecopter giveaway link. Please make sure you do both to ensure that you are entered!
Good luck

Rafflecopter Giveaway

When did you realise that you had a talent for writing? 
When I was 15, I wrote in an essay, 'Grey dry-stone walls crawled across the countryside like caterpillars.' The simile and alliteration seemed to impress my teacher, Mrs Southgate. She wrote very complimentary things in red ink and subsequently suggested I be entered for the optional exam in Creative Writing when I did my English Literature A'level.

How did your writing journey start? 
Every Monday morning at school, as soon as we were old enough to construct sentences, we had to write about our weekend in our News Books. I expect this gave our teacher some very interesting insights into our home lives! I often mentioned my mum's friend, our neighbour Mrs Mott. Apparently my teacher thought she was a fictional character and was surprised one day when she came to pick me up from school and said she was Mrs Mottershead. After that I wrote diaries, odes, poems; the usual kids' stuff. And during the first twenty years of my teaching life, I completed two full-length novels on an old typewriter. This was before I had the idea for Meeting Lydia.

What gave you the idea for the book Meeting Lydia? 
My early experiences of bullying as one of very few girls in a boys' prep school, and the effect this had on me in later life, had a unique quality that I always felt could be portrayed usefully in a novel. I wanted to share in the hope of helping others who had gone through something similar. But it was only when I became reacquainted with one of my classmates through Friends Reunited that an idea for a plot emerged. A long-lost crush and internet relationships sounded a more interesting prospect than bullying on its own. Of course there are dozens of books with cyber-relationship or bullying themes, but because this novel was inspired by actual events, I am confident it has totally original qualities. Indeed, the event that gives Meeting Lydia its title was something that actually happened and should be an 'ah-ha' moment for the reader.

You tackle a number of controversial subjects in the book such as bullying.  How do you feel that your psychology background has helped you to do this?
Although I research all the themes in my novels, having a background in psychology gives me some knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of human behaviour which may make it easier to create believable characters and situations, and to anticipate action and reaction in complex relationship dilemmas. One of the reasons I write is because I want to have an impact and make people think about their own lives. I believe that by reading through the traumas of fictional characters, we can be helped to unravel some of our own issues.

You must come across some very interesting people in your life.  Do you base your characters on people that you have come across? 
Many of my characters are created rather as one might create a dish from a recipe, taking ingredients from various people, mixing them in a bowl, adding a dash of inspiration and hoping someone unique and memorable emerges from the fictional oven. Once on a train from Carlisle to London, I was sitting across the aisle from a fascinating family with a loud and vociferous mother. By the end of the journey, my ticket envelope was covered in quotations, several of which have inspired pieces of dialogue in my books. I would love to think one day the mother would read them; she would definitely recognise herself!

Do you have a favourite author(s) or a favourite book and if so why?
I adore Winnie-the-Pooh for its wonderful characterisation and humour. My aunt used to read me the stories when I went to visit. She did all the voices and brought the book to life. When I was a teenager I revisited the book from a different perspective, seeing the jokes meant for adults and discovering a new magic. Since then, in each of my workplaces, I have found a Tigger, an Eeyore, a Kanga, a Rabbit - and I suspect this is true everywhere.

Where do you write?
In my living-room at the computer - but I also construct plots and characters on a notepad when I'm sitting on the sofa. Frequently at night in bed, an idea strikes when I'm not consciously thinking about it. If I don't write it down, the night-fairies steal it and it is lost by morning. I now have a small voice recorder and a notepad on the bedside table.

Who inspires you? 
Mr Keating in 'Dead Poets' Society' quotes Walt Whitman to his class, '"The powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse." What will your verse be?'''
I find these words extremely inspirational.
But daily I am inspired by real-life stories of strength in adversity, and by the natural world.

I see that your next book A Meeting of a Different Kind is due out very soon.  Can you tell me a little more about it? 
This stand-alone sequel to Meeting Lydia came out in November 2012. It is written from the perspectives of two different characters: Marianne's friend Taryn who is a borderline manic depressive with a penchant for other people's husbands, and Edward, the long-lost crush whose wife has inherited almost a million and is turning their home into an eco-farm without consulting him. Marianne's communications with Edward have led her to believe he is not the philandering type, but Taryn doesn't believe this of any man, 'given the right material to philander with'. I thought it would be interesting to examine what might happen when Edward and Taryn meet. But overall the story is a very tangled web of midlife relationships where loyalty and friendship are severely tested. In the background is Taryn's mental fragility and also a smattering of environment issues. As with Meeting Lydia, it will appeal to anyone interested in the psychology of relationships but because it is also from the male perspective, men are enjoying it as much as women

So what's next for Linda MacDonald? 
Three local library talks in April and May to try to spread awareness of my writing; a virtual tour via Fiction Addiction with A Meeting of a Different Kind in July; and I am currently about two thirds of the way through the first draft of the third part of the Lydia trilogy. I hope to have it published in 2014.

Thanks so much for sharing all that personal information with me and my readers.  I would love to read the other two books in the trilogy at some point, so please pop by again on any other tours you have planned.  Thanks for joining me here today.

About the Author:

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught secondary science and biology in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write, paint and make jewellery. In 1990 she was lured back into teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught health and social care and psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’.

At the end of 2009, Linda broke her wrist very badly through tripping over a classroom chair. Reminded of the fragility of life and how time was passing with her writing dreams still unfulfilled, she decided to publish her first novel independently. Meeting Lydia was inspired by finding an ex classmate on Friends Reunited. The novel explores the effects of school bullying on later life, and the pros and cons of internet relationships from the perspective of a woman going through a midlife crisis. It was published in September 2011. The stand-alone sequel, A Meeting of a Different Kind, had already been drafted before Linda broke her wrist and was published in November last year. It continues the story from the perspectives of two different characters, looking at issues of friendship, loyalty and betrayal. Both books may be read independently and are being very well-received by a wide ranging readership of men as well as women. It is expected that there will be a third part to the series and this is a work in progress.

Health issues in 2011 prompted Linda to retire from teaching in order to concentrate on her writing career. She hopes that with this new focus she can bring her books to the notice of a larger audience.

Linda’s links

Amazon UK Author Page:

Amazon US Author Page:

Troubador Author page Meeting Lydia

Troubador Author page A Meeting of a Different Kind

Twitter @LindaMac1



Nicky Wells said...

oooh Linda, do you still have that essay? Sounds AMAZING! Love you how got into writing ~ it makes such a difference when a teacher gets the kids to write and feel inspired. LOVED the bit about Mrs. Mott!

Like you, I get assaulted by ideas in the middle of the night and have perfected the art of writing in my trusty notebook in the dark!

Congrats on a fabulous tour, Meeting Lydia is on my TBR and I can't wait to get reading. Rock on!

Shaz Goodwin said...

Thanks for being a part of the book tour today Kim.

Some very good questions there ... and answers!


Unknown said...

Thank you for your comment, Nicky. Alas I no longer have the essay. Mrs Mott played a big part in our lives when we were kids so I am pleased you like the story. :)

snoopsspots2 said...

I read Meeting Lydia and totally loved it! Good Luck, Linda! :) xx