Linda Kay Silva

Some time ago, I asked my readers to send me the names of writers they’d like me to interview. A friend who is participating in the GCLS Writing Academy suggested that I interview Linda K. Silva. I requested and she graciously accepted. In preparation for the interview, I checked out her bio and have come up with some questions for her to get our discussion started.

Welcome, Linda K Silva. Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about you and your writing. I see from your bio that you were recently awarded the Alice B Award for the body of your work. This is not your only award you’ve received. You have also won two Golden Crown Literary Awards for your Echo Branson novels, More Than an Echo and When an Echo Returns. Let me start by saying congratulations on your achievements.

AJ:  Tell me what it was like to win the Alice B Award.

It was thrilling, really, and when I saw the company I was with, I was stunned and humbled. What an honor to be included in such a well-established group. To be honest, it was also really nice to win for my body of work. I am constantly hard at work working on one of many series, so it was especially sweet.

You’re a new Desert Palm Press author, what has your experience been with the publishing world?

AJ: I’ve been with Desert Palm Press since it’s inception in 2013, so we’re all new! I am very pleased with my publisher and have been amazed at the amount of support I’ve received from other authors. I’ve found most authors I’ve had contact with to be very supportive of other’s work.

I see you write in a number of genres. Which have you dabbled in and which is your favorite?

Dabbled. Hmm…Not sure I have ever really dabbled at anything. I am usually an all or nothing kind of person. Lol. My favorite genre is paranormal, for sure. My Across Time series is one of my faves because I love history and it gave me a chance to play in it. Across Time turned me on to pirates, though, and so my first pirate series, Plundered, will be out next year. I get another chance to play with history.

AJ: Uh oh...I'm on thin ice here... Let's try this. You have been writing a long time. When did you write your first book, and what is different today, from when you first started writing.

Hey man! Are you saying I’m old? LOL. I wrote 4 shitty books when I was 25. While they were no good, I did learn a great deal from them. I learned never to give up. What’s different? Everything. Now, anyone can self publish, put a mediocre book online for 99 cents and call themselves a authors. Editorial jobs have been cut even in the big houses, and publishers have to work harder and harder to get good books out there. Gone are the days of expensive book tours, unless you are a Rowlings, Grisham, or King. The worst part? Many publishers are not looking for well-written books…they are looking for the next blockbuster movie, because, let’s face it, that’s where the big bucks are. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. Enough said.

AJ: Oh no. Now I've insulted you. No, not old. Seasoned. Like a fine wine. Hope that's better! Maybe I'll stop now, while I'm behind.

Over the years, have you changed your methods of writing? What is the procedure you followed for your last book and how does it differ from that which you used to write your first book?

I’m a big believer in if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I have always written long hand with a fountain pen because I love the act of writing far more than keyboarding. I find typing a sterile activity. Long hand means I can write anywhere…I don’t need electricity. I can write during a party, watching a movie, sitting at a tennis tournament. That hasn’t changed at all. What HAS changed is my revision process. I write a manuscript and then send it to my mother-in-law to type it up and edit. Then it comes back. I revise twice before sending it to my editor (who is awesome!). I get it back. I revise, then send it out again. I get it back, revise one more time and then send it to the publisher. I get it back one more time after that.

I always love to hear about how other writer's approach their writing. While mine is slightly unorthodox, what is your process like?

AJ: If I had to write a book longhand, I fear it would never get written. If I were successful in finishing it, it would be moot…my handwriting is horrible! I start with an idea, figure out a beginning and end and work out the plot in my head. Once I have all the pieces necessary to tell the story, I make some notes about characters, characteristics (hair color, eye color, personality traits or individual mannerisms). Then I start to write. Some might call that a pantster, but it’s not like I haven’t thought things through from beginning to end. I just don’t have a detailed written ourline like you do.

I’m curious about something I read about you. I understand you were a member of the police force at one time.Tell us a bit about your background and what you are doing for a living today.

I was the world’s worst cop ever. I had little training and was tossed into undercover work before I’d even graduated from the academy. I sucked. It takes a very special person to do that job, and that’s not me. What I have done ever since I left the force is teach. I spent 15 years teaching middle school. I have been a literature professor at a military university for the last 6 years. I teach Modern Epic Fantasy, African Literature, American Lit after the Civil War, British Lit Before the Renaissance, and Screenwriting. I basically teach anything they need me to. I love teaching. I have a passion for it. There’s a reason why half my FB peeps are past students. We bond. I touch lives. It is what I have been doing for 30 years, and to a one, they can tell you how I touched theirs.

AJ: We have teaching in common. I taught in special education for over thirty years. I agree with you, there is nothing like teaching. That moment when you see a student ‘get it’ is what it’s all about.

Linda, I'd suspect you enjoyed creative writing in high school?

I took every single English class in high school before I was a senior. I knew I was a wordsmith, but sooo many people were naysayers about not being able to make a living at writing. Those people suck. I was fortunate to have had great English teachers. They taught me so much that I now use as an literature instructor.

What about you? Did you have good teachers, AJ?

AJ: LOL, some were better than others. Interestingly, the one I liked the least, and whose class I dreaded, actually ended up teaching me the most.

Other authors have told me about the pile of rejection slips in they’ve collected before becoming a successful author. How did you become a published author? Was it an easy or difficult process?

OMG. My pile of rejection slips was about 3 feet high. I never minded getting them because it meant someone was reading my work. I knew that eventually, someone would want what I had to offer. I never gave up. I never even thought about quitting. You’ll never score a point if you stay on the bench. I didn’t (and don’t) just want to score points. I want to make the All Star Team. Only one way to do that is to get in the damn game. The process was so much harder than it is today, with emailing and simultaneous submissions. Back in the day, you could submit to only one publisher at a time. Now, it’s very different.

How high is your stack, AJ?

AJ: I was extremely fortunate. I submitted Sunset Island to three different publishers. The third was the charm. I will admit, I rewrote Sunset Island about 15 times, though. I owe Lee Fitzsimmons, and the numerous others who made suggestions, a debt of gratitude for sticking with me throughout the process.

Tell me about the Writer’s Academy and how it came to be.

The Writer’s Academy is the child of the new Director of GCLS, Liz Gibson. She is all about education, and she knew I’m a little experienced at curriculum design and such, and so we sat down at the last Left Coast Lesbian Conference and pounded out a curriculum. It is a wonderful way for experienced writers to give back to the up and comers. We have an amazing staff of instructors, most of whom have multiple books published. Once a week students are treated to a live lecture and discussion from some of our preeminent lesbian writers. What could be more inspiring than that?

AJ:  Are you willing to share a secret about yourself that most people don’t know?

Sure. I am scared to death of being eaten alive by a shark. I love liver and onions. I play the violin left handed. As a little girl, I spent a year in an oxygen tent.

AJ:  My goodness...a treasure trove of secrets. I know it won't help, but read this article here and it might help. I hope it won't increase your fear of ladders,  toilets, and chainsaws. Also, fear not, I'll never fight you for your liver and onions. Do you do everything left handed, and why the oxygen tent?

Yes, I do everything left handed, but  I am naturally ambidextrous. So much so, that I play tennis with both hands.

I was in a tent because I had really bad asthma. My grandfather read somewhere (when I was 12) that if you swam regularly, you could get rid of asthma because it would force you to breathe in a pattern your lungs would eventually get used to. Well, I did laps every day for a month. it went away. I mean completely. Never been back. LOL. Go figure. My brother refused to swim. He still sucks on his inhaler.I sure loved my Papa!

AJ: I can understand why. Describe yourself in 5 adjectives or less.

Intelligent, funny, happy, disciplined, crazy-as-shit. LOL, AJ, what about you? What five words would you use to describe me? LOL.

AJ:  Haha. Okay, this could be difficult, since I’m just getting to know you. I’d say intelligent, witty, disciplined, hard working, and…I’ll reserve the last for another time when I know you better.

I know it’s a bit like picking a favorite child, but which, from all the books you’ve written, of your stories is your favorite and why?

Damn. Tough one. Of published books, Demon Hunter. Of those coming up…Plundered. Demon Hunter is a fun read because Denny doesn’t WANT to be one, but she inherits the legacy.

AJ:  Tell me about your most recent release.

My most recent is Zombie Bomb, due this month. Now, before you start in with “I don’t DO zombies," you need to know that the zombies are really ancillary to the plot. They could be in a tornado or Russian military. The STORY is how these two women and a boy fight to stay alive when their world is turned upside down. It’s about how family is made, about how we band together in time of crisis. It is a love story. It is how love pushes its way up through even the hardest ground. I know that sounds weird, but it is. If you would give your life for your lover, then this series is for you.

AJ: fifth adjective or description of you, that I reserved above, would be prescient—you're able to read my mind. LOL, you're right, I don't "do" zombies. But, I do like the way you describe the plot and the fact that the zombies are ancillary. What are you working on now?

I just finished Demon Within, which is the sequel to Demon Hunter, and now I am working on Pillaged, the sequel to Plundered. I only work on one at a time, but my place has revolving doors for manuscripts coming in and going out.

What are YOU working on, AJ?

AJ:  I just sent I Love My Life to my editor. The backdrop of the love story involves sailing. It’ll be out next spring. Thanks for asking. What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

I publish 4 books a year. I am never NOT writing. LOL. I ride a bad ass Harley. I play tennis like a maniac. I rescue animals and care for my fabled zoo. I watch zombie and post apocalypse movies. I laugh. I laugh all the time. Truth be told, laughing is my favorite activity.

AJ:  With the arrival of e-books, marketing seems to be, more and more, falling to the author rather than the publisher. How do you publicize your books, and what do you think is the most effective?

Besides word of mouth? Well, I have a publicist now who does most of that for me. We cannot rely on Facebook or social media any longer. We have to do the legwork. We started a Facebook Page called The Silva Linings as a way to pay back those readers who go the distance and take the time to write reviews, blogs, etc. Hey! You’d score some BIG points for this!

AJ: Neat. I'll check it out.

I’ve been told before that the book the author feels is their best work is the least popular with the readers. Do you agree with that statement?

No. Who says that? LOL. That’s simply a gross generalization and I don’t do gross.

AJ: Someone said it on VLR recently. Okay, a couple of questions from your fan who requested I interview you. You are rumored to be a ‘hard core plotter.’ Have you always written in this manner?

Hard core? Yep. That’s me. You see, I subscribe to the notion than if you want to be better than you are, you should study those more successful than you. If JK Rowling plotted and planned all of her series, then she’s who a smart writer will pattern herself after. I suppose there are those out there who are as successful as King, Tan, Koontz, and Grisham, but I’ve never heard of them. Do what the best do and adopt their practices as your own. That’s my philosophy. Besides, if not plotting really worked, more of the greats would be non plotters, right? I have a post it that says “By failing to plan, you’re planning to fail.” I mean, really, do the Giants or Niners go out on the ball field without a plan? Do contractors build without a plan? Did Michelangelo paint without a plan? The key to success is in replicating that which has proven successful. The end. LOL.

AJ:  How much research is involved in your work? How much of what you learn actually ends up in the stories?

Research is an interesting thing. Take, for example, Plundered. The key is to focus on the story…not the nuggets of information only I would find interesting. So I write and I write…and when Callaghan pulls her sword for the first time, I merely write (Sword info) and move on. The STORY is the thing. Always. ALWAYS. So if I spend a 40 hours a week  researching, do I even know what the hell I’m looking for or what I ever need? So I keep moving forward. Then I get to the ship. I need ship info, but not while I am getting the story. I’ll add it later (ship info). It is sooo easy to get lost in data and information you may or may not need or use, right? So I wait until the revision…and then I go, “Oh right. What kinds of swords did the Irish use in the 16th century?” I pop in, get my info, and get out. Too many new writers are, in all actuality, glorified researchers. They research until the cows come home instead of doing the writing. It’s all about the story. Moo.

AJ what are your thoughts on this?

AJ: Interesting…I just learned a valuable lesson. In my latest book, my characters take a sailboat up the coast of Maine. Although I actually owned a 30’ sailboat in my younger days, it was long ago and some critical facts were long gone from memory. Besides, I sailed to Annapolis, not to Maine. So as I was writing the story, I had to stop and research the details. How long would it take to make a sail from point A to point B, for example? It does interrupt the flow of thoughts. So, you my teacher friend have just taught me a valuable lesson. Thank you! To prove my claim, here’s a never before seen picture of me taken about 42 years ago.

Why don’t you use chapters?

OMG, who sent these questions to you? Sounds like a student. I would say 95% of readers, when it’s time to stop reading, flip through to see where the next chapter is. They are already plotting their exit strategy. I have nailed that door shut by omitting the chapter. You see, we are preconditioned to see Chapter as both a beginning and an end. When a relationship ends, people may refer to that as “That chapter in your life is over.” Or, “Now you can start a new chapter. I don’t use the word chapter. I use something that our brains are not conditioned to see as a beginning or an end. It’s magic, I say. Magic! And what is the result? I’ve had a number of readers email me and tell me they stayed up all night finishing a book. THAT is the goal of every writer…to make a book hard to put down!

AJ: It was a student, but my lips are sealed! I’m told you have a really cool motorcycle and interesting pets. Can you tell me about them?

I ride a Harley Dyna Wide bad ass machine with more chrome than you can shake a stick at. I love that bike and wrote a novel called LUCKY, which is about a woman who buys a Harley when she loses her mojo and so she goes on a journey. FYI. Most of those stories in the book are true and happened to yours truly.

As for my animals…I have a desert tortoise, snakes, a parrot, a tree frog, a bearded dragon, and a partridge in a pear tree.

AJ: Hmph…I guess I won’t share pictures of my Suzuki 400 and my new kitten then. LOL. A bearded dragon? Really?

Okay, Linda, I will stop grilling you. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss your writing.

Thank you, AJ, for having me. I always love a chance to plug the GCLS Writing Academy as well as Sapphire Books and my own stuff. I really appreciate it!

AJ: It was my pleasure. Contact information and Linda K. Silva's impressive list of books are below:

Zombie Series
Man Eaters, The Horde, Mob Rule

Time Travel Series
Across Time, Second Time Around, Third Time's a Charm, Just Killing Time, In the Nick of Time

Paranormal Series
More Than an Echo, When an Echo Returns, Echo Location, Frozen Echo, Echo's Revenge




© JEN 2014