1. When did you start putting pen to paper?
Not long ago I was digging through a box of mementos from my childhood and found a short story I had written in fourth grade. I had forgotten about the story until I found it. The original draft must have had some emotional residue, because as I focused on the somewhat artistic cover page and the handwritten words, a flood of emotional memories came back to me of how much care and attention I had put into the story and the pride I felt when I handed it to my teacher.
2. What’s your literary poison – prose, poetry, etc.?
I love fiction, and can read almost any genre, as long as the writer’s writing voice agrees with me (clear, simple).
3. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Charlotte A. Cavatica, in E. B. White’s famous tale CHARLOTTE’S WEB, is pretty amazing. She’s smart and a good friend.
4. Which famous writer can you most identify with?
Not long ago I discovered author M. J. Rose. As I learned more about her, I was surprised how much we have in common: we both have a background in advertising; she writes about topics that interest me (perfume, Paris, reincarnation); her writing style is easy and lyrical; she likes to write description. Recently, I read that developing characters is difficult for her – I have the same trouble when I write fiction.
5. What are your current projects? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
I’m always working on something, and recently started thinking about my next story. I’m the type of person who jots down ideas as they happen – this is the beginning of the writing process for me. Some of the ideas I write down resonate with me more than others, but I consider all of them when it’s time to sit down and write a very rough flow of the story.
6. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book or writing piece?
No. A lot of work went into writing THE MEDIUM and THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE, and I would not have released them on Jan. 1, 2015 if I thought anything needed to be changed. My writing goal is: Write feel-good stories and encourage readers to use books as a way to relax and indulge in the meditative experience of reading. When I was ready to published both books, I had reached my goal.
7. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Here are a few tips that have worked for me – Read every day. Read and study well-written text (fiction, nonfiction). Develop your writing voice (it’s more important than you think). Don’t let the “writing rules” bog you down when you’re writing the first draft; they don’t matter when you’re writing the story, only when you’re editing the story. And if you’re like me and have too many ideas, narrow your list down to your top five, then your top three, and weave the top three into your story.
8. What were your grades like in English class? (A, B, anything less than this is shameful 😉
English class was easy for me, which I loved, because everyone I knew was good at something (math, debate, sports). My thing was English.
9. How much research do you do for your writing?
Yikes! Here’s where I get into trouble, because it’s hard for me to stop researching topics that interest me. I have to force myself to stop researching and jump into the story.
10. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I write on my Apple MacBook Pro laptop. I don’t write story paragraphs or scenes longhand, because I can type faster than I can write. My ideas for the story, however, are captured on paper in longhand and as voice memos on my iPhone.
11. What is the best advice you’ve been given?
You’re a writer. Keep at it. Don’t worry about what other people think.
12. What book do you think everyone should read?
The book’s title is TRAVELS, written by the late Michael Crichton. It’s a collection of memories from his travel adventures early in his life – both outer travel to places such as Bangkok, Kilimanjaro, Malaysia, and Jamaica (when people rarely traveled to these places) and inner travel (his personal spiritual exploration). His experiences are not only fascinating, but you’ll learn a little about yourself when you read this book. He was such a great writer. He starts the book with this sentence: “It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.” (referring to his days as a medical student).
13. Two-part question: Do you play a musical instrument? And what instrument would you like to learn to play?
A few years ago I purchased a hand-carved Native American flute that was made specifically for me. The sound is very soothing and I love to play it. I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano. Like the flute, I think piano music is soothing.
14. What process did (or are you going) you go through to get your book published?
Whew! This is a big question. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version . . . I published both books, THE MEDIUM and THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE, at the same time (Jan. 1, 2015). It made sense to do all the work once instead of twice (both drafts were ready at the same time). I worked with a wonderfully talented editor (Patricia Peters) who line edited both stories. From there I did a final polish of the drafts, created the book covers, and published them as ebooks on Amazon. A few weeks later I made them available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Books-a-Million, IndieBound, and bookstores around the world (via IngramSpark). Readers are now able to choose their favorite bookstore and format (paperback or ebook).
15. Who would you like to change places with… i.e. live someone else’s life for a week?
Wouldn’t it be fun to be Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, for one week? I’ve always wanted to hear and see what a psychic experiences.
16. If you weren’t a writer, what would be your ideal profession?
Anything? In my teen years I wanted to be a choreographer, like what Paula Abdul used to do.
17. Two-part question: Bill Murray or Chevy Chase? And John Cleese or Michael Palin?
Chevy Chase, because he was very funny in the movie Christmas Vacation. I had to Google John Cleese and Michael Palin (John who? Michael who?) . . . sorry, neither.
18. What’s your most rewarding literary accomplishment to date (one that just blew your mind!)
Well, I’m a new fiction writer (published Jan. 1, 2015), so I’m still waiting for my moment. However, I’ve been a published nonfiction writer since 1990 and am proud to say that during those writing years I had many rewarding accomplishments. I look forward to the same success as a fiction writer.
19. What quote do you live by?
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas A. Edison
20. What would be your ideal writer profession ambition? (famous pulitzer prize winning author, successful self-published author as a day job, etc.)
I used to think I wanted Nicholas Sparks’s writing career. Now I wouldn’t mind being a hugely popular self-published author whose stories are made into films.
21. Would you like to ask me a question?
Yes! What do you enjoy most about living in NYC?
Great question. What’s not to love about it? Each surrounding area has an authentic vibe. The convenience alone is astounding… plus the people here are exceptional with straightforwardness being one of their best traits. My only qualm is the harsh winters.
Thanks again to Linda for interviewing with me! Linda’s hard work and talent are to be relished. You can find more info about Linda Westphal here:
Website – http://lindawestphal.com/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5281039.Linda_Westphal
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Author_Westphal
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/author.westphal
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LindaWestphalAuthor/posts