Monday, 14 September 2015

Author of the month: Linn B Halton Interview

Our author of the month Linn B Halton joins us in the hot seat.

Hello Linn and welcome to Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom. 
What inspired you to write your first book? 
TBTL medThree months before I wrote the very first word of Touched by the Light, I had given up my full-time career as an interior designer to spend some quality time with my mum. No one knew she was ill at the time, but I knew it in my heart. However, her passing (just twelve weeks later), was sudden and unexpected. I found myself alone at home, dealing with her affairs and overwhelmed by grief. So I sat down in front of the pc to get away from the harsh reality of daily life. I was also fulfilling her wish – that I found the ‘me’ time to write. It sounds as if Touched by the Light is a sad book, but it is in fact a romantic comedy with a curious twist. The wonderful thing about writing fiction is that the characters take you where they want to go and for me that experience changed my life forever. Just six years later I have just had my eighth, full-length novel published. 

Do you have a specific writing style? 
I write in the first person, so I’m sharing what’s in the character’s head, rather than simply writing what they would choose to share with the world. The reader gets to know what the character is feeling deep down inside and often that includes the thoughts they would find it hard to admit they have. Usually I write from the point of view of both lead characters and sometimes some of the more interesting side characters, too. I love the way that one thing happens and every person has a slightly different take on it. The point is that in real life that’s often why misunderstandings occur and people’s feelings get hurt.

How did you come up with the title of your current/recent book? 
ACITC rose lrgI have two current books both released in the last month and the title is often the only thing I have when I sit down to write a new novel. A Cottage in the Country – that title was the inspiration of my editor at Harper Impulse. My working title was ‘The Man Who Can’, as it’s the name of the contractor’s company (Lewis Hart) who does the renovation work on the cottage. However, the title change made sense and it suits the cover so well!  
The sequel is here! James still hasn't put a ring on Katherine's finger ...  
Quintessentially Yours – is the sequel to Under The Stars (which came out in May 2015). Endeavour Press kept my working title and I think it captures the ethos of the story perfectly. From the moment I sat down to write it, the title was there in my head, as it’s all about two people who are really madly in love, but going through a period where life is throwing more at them than they can possibly cope with. If your love can survive the tough times, then you know you will be there for each other forever!

Is there a message in your novel(s) that you want readers to grasp? 
I want to write uplifting stories that reflect real-life and the fact that every single one of us has a different set of daily struggles. But it’s important to keep ploughing forward, take the knocks as best you can and not lose hope. Love means loving other people and receiving love in return, and it’s the key to happiness. I write about ‘love, life and beyond, but it’s ALWAYS about the romance’. It’s a tagline that sums up most of my stories, as even in my chick lit novels there’s often a little help from the ‘other side’ of life. I really do believe in life after death, and the fact that if we listen – really listen – loved ones who have passed over are there by our side helping us along the way.
The thought you get out of the blue that helps solve a problem? The ‘coincidence’ that changes everything? Something that happens that you think of as a ‘lucky’ experience?
Usually those are the things that have a big impact on our lives going forward and I believe everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we need a little help, though, and I can honestly say that there have been numerous times when I’ve had a psychic experience that left me in no doubt I was being helped for a reason.

Are your novels based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Never Alone medThey do say ‘write what you know’ and yes, things that interest me, and places I’ve been do appear in the stories I write. Some of my novels (in particular, Never Alone, A Cottage in the Country and the Angels Among Us series) have woven into the story little psychic moments that I’ve actually experienced. For instance, Never Alone is about a woman who has some terrifying and unexplained things happen to her and a few of my worst psychic experiences form the basis of this story. I haven’t had that many really frightening ones over the years, as if I get a bad feeling when I visit a place I usually turn around and leave! However, most of the time what I include in my novels is the positive and very reassuring side of feeling that loved ones are there, unseen. It took me a long time to realise what was happening around me and the truth is that it is easier to be a sceptic than to grapple with the alternative. But I’m so glad I crossed that line and the more you relax and accept, the more wonderfully positive things happen around you. One thing I will add, is that raising a family and having a full-time career meant I wasn’t able to begin writing in earnest until 2009. I’m not sure I would have been the same sort of writer if I’d found the time to pen my first novel prior to that. Life experience colours what I write and having led a very full life so far, it’s been tinged with every emotion it’s possible to experience. My characters reflect that.
Falling collection finalWhich of your novels have influenced your life the most? Falling: Angels Among Us the complete series. I've done a number of talks to groups who are interested in the research I did in order to be able to explain how it might work if/when angels visit this plane. It took three years to research the non-romance part of this book and led me to experience many things that were new to me, in my search for answers. I believe it change me as a person.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
Oh, my great friend and author, Mandy Baggot, most definitely would be top of the list and we email regularly. We were introduced by Shaz Goodwin. I also have many wonderful author friends who are giving and sharing whenever I reach out. Also friends in the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) who are always happy to answer a question, no matter what it’s about.

What are your current projects? 
I’ve just completed Strangely Connected and am about to sign a contract for it with Choc Lit. It’s about a very successful life coach who lives for her work and wakes up one morning to realise she’s been living only half a life! It’s the story of her search to restore a work/life balance and find the Mr Right she needs to make her life whole.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
No, although there is always the temptation to tinker with a word here and a word there. But when I move a file from my Work In Progress folder to my Completed folder, that means I’m happy I’ve done the best job I can. Of course, after that it goes to my editor, but I’ve been very lucky and usually it’s all about commas, typos and grammar corrections … the bane of my life!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I devoured books as a child and teen, reading way about my reading age. By the age of eleven I knew I would write some day and with one aim. I wanted to write books that took the reader away into a virtual little world as a way to relax and escape the daily routine. It’s what I always looked for in a book and still do. I have journals of short stories, poems, and ideas for full-length stories, going back to that age that still remain untouched. If I ever run out of ideas, I’ll be paying them a visit!

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 
I’m currently writing A Glass Wall and it’s unusual for me, as it’s something I’ve had to push to one side several times, in order to stop and write other novels. I have four novels out this year with three different publishers, the first one was in May. With three now launched and one to go, and my first novel for 2016 now finished, I’m hoping to get back to The Glass Wall. I’ll admit that I’m impatient to see where the characters will take the story. Usually I write one book at a time, but the idea for this book came to me about three years ago. I quickly wrote down what was in my head, knowing it would be a while before I could get back to it. I’ve added bits in between as things have popped into my head. The central idea behind this book is the question ‘is it possible to have more than one soul mate?’ and it’s one I find fascinating. I have no idea where the story is going, so watch this space!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Lack of uninterrupted, quiet time. That’s why I often write at 6am in the morning, or in the wee hours.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? 
As a family we did a lot of travelling over the years, particularly in the States and Europe. Since we moved into our cottage on the edge of the Forest of Dean in December 2013, home now feels like being on holiday! Although the cottage is small, the views are breath-taking and the hillside garden a challenge, but a delight. Fortunately, if my stories ever require a flight somewhere I simply think back to some of the wonderful places we’ve visited and the bonus is there’s no waiting around at airports involved!

Who designs your covers? 
I have books with Harper Impulse, Endeavour Press, Sapphire Star Publishing and the next book with Choc Lit. It’s a blessing to have publishers who have a team, including great cover designers. However, I do have two self-published books (Touched by the Light and Never Alone) and I designed those covers myself.

What was the hardest part of writing your most recent book? 
Quintessentially Yours, the sequel to Under the Stars, was published on 5 August 2015 and was a joy to write. The characters literally wrote it for me. The hardest part was the ending, as I knew what I wanted (being a fan of the traditional wedding dream – fabulous dress, gorgeous cake …), but it wasn’t to be. Guess I’ll continue to live in the hope of writing a story where I can indulge in my wedding fantasies!
Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Just sit down and write – don’t over-think it and don’t worry about where it might, or might not, lead. I believe in fate and that ‘what is meant for you, will not pass you by’. It is hard work and I can honestly say (as a lifetime workaholic) I’ve never worked harder than I do now, but if your heart is in what you do, then every working day is a pleasure. Somewhere out there is someone who will love what you write, and others who won’t be quite so captivated – but we are all different and that’s why life is so totally, totally amazing!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
When I wrote my first novel my dream was to have one reader, someone who didn’t know me at all, read my book and write a review to say they enjoyed spending time with my characters. Every single reader, every single review still feels like the first one to me. I feel honoured and humbled when anyone takes the time to choose one of my books out of the HUGE mountain of brilliant books out there. It still makes me catch my breath and pinch myself - YOU keep me writing! But the big surprise for me was how many friends I’ve made on this writing journey – readers, bloggers, reviewers … and for that I’m so very, very grateful!

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.
My pleasure entirely! I think it’s time for a virtual HUG now ha! Ha!

You can find out more about Linn and her books, here: