To say that Linda is a very interesting person is an understatement, but you wouldn't really know that by looking at her website, hiddentrees.com. On her website, she has a picture of herself that, while demonstrating her professionalism, does nothing to reveal the writer within.
According to the bio Linda has on her website, she has been happily married to her husband, Tom, for over 20 Years and resides in the North Eastern region of the United States. She has a degree in science and has worked as a Veterinary Technician with a specialty in avian medicine for many years. Linda is the mother of three teenagers named Tom, Rachel and Scott. For those of you familiar with her and her stories, you already know this, but for those not as familiar with this bit of info, the names of her children inspired the names of the Morgan children in her trilogy! [Very neat!]
Her website bio will also tell you that Linda always wanted to write a book and has finally accomplished her goal with The Elvin Realm and soared beyond it with the release of The Rise of Zeflana: The Elvin Realm II. Her love of fantasy and the imagination of her children as well as their names inspired her to write the first book in the Dream Warrior series, The Elvin Realm.
That's all well and good, but what the website doesn't say is lot more interesting and we've got Linda here to give us the scoop on some of that, so I hope you find this interview as fun and interesting as I did conducting it!
Me: So, you’re a vet tech with a specialty in avian medicine. For those of us not familiar with animal medicine, what’s the difference between a regular vet and vet tech?
Linda: A Veterinarian is an animal doctor and a Veterinary Technician is an animal nurse, X-Ray technician, laboratory technician and surgical technician all rolled into one. We have to learn all of these responsibilities where as in the human realm; people must specialize and concentrate on only one of these areas.
Me: What kind of neat birds have you had the opportunity to work with?
Linda: I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of birds: the most expensive bird I have helped was a Hyacinth Macaw. They are a very large purple-feathered bird that sells for over $10,000. One of our good clients had 8 macaws; it must have been very noisy in the mornings at that house. Other birds are a assortment of amazons, cockatoos, cockatiels, and a variety of small pet birds.
I have also had the opportunity to work with an Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation Veterinarian. I would assist with the rehabilitation of Owls, Hawks and the majestic Eagle. When the bird was well enough, we would be able to set it free back in the wild, a very rewarding experience.
[Okay, they do look very blue in that first image, but the second one sure looks purple!]
Me: Have you ever worked with a zoo or animal adventure theme park?
Linda: I volunteered at a zoo while completing my residency in college.
Me: Which one and do you still work there?
Linda: The Detroit Zoo, I volunteered during my residency and was able to assist with many surgeries, basic care and I really enjoyed working with the baby animals. Feeding the baby Tigers was amazing.
Me: Where have you put your talents to use?
Linda: I have also developed and taught an Avian Medicine course at a local college. The curriculum consisted of bird species identification, basic skills such as trimming nails, clipping feathers and tube feeding. Also my students learned to draw blood from the tiny veins of the bird, which is quite a task in itself, X-Ray restraint, medical lab tests, proper daily care and training.
Me: Does your job involve traveling to sick patients?
Linda: One of my residency experiences was to work in a large animal practice. We had to go to the patient’s farm to treat them. We treated Horses, cows, goats, sheep, chickens and pigs. Did you know a cow has 4 stomachs? Just some food for thought. And no, you do not get chicken pox from chickens.
Me: Has the travel given you any inspiration for your stories?
Linda: Not really. My stories are all fantasy. The only correlation would be Deano in the story who is actually my daughter’s horse.
Me: As much as many of us want to, we can’t work and write 24/7, even though many of us wish we could. It’s also not mentally possible to constantly work without something giving way. What do you do for fun, to recharge your soul?
Linda: I’m really kind of crazy. I actually tried out for Survivor 5 times but was never chosen, Oh darn. I enjoy any type of outdoor activity such as, gardening, hiking, canoeing, and I really spend a lot of time in the summer on my bike. My husband and I have recumbent bikes, which are extremely comfortable; it is like sitting in a lounge chair while you are peddling. We will ride 25 to 40 miles at a time 2 to 3 times a week. We ride through tree lined trails which cross next to a river, very refreshing and invigorating. Great for releasing stress as the wind blows through your hair and you breathe in the cool clean air.
[okay, all I can say here is wow!]
Me: Where have you traveled to with and without your family?
Linda: Our family loves to travel. We camp and have been to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, hiked in the Teton Mountains, where we actually found some gold, saw the Flaming Gorge in Utah, Las Vegas, and toured the Grand Canyon. We have also been to the south, Kentucky mountains, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida where we went to Disney World 6 years in a row when the kids were smaller, they love Disney. We have camped in Panama City and went deep sea fishing and snorkeling. We also love to go on cruises. My family is very close because my children are 19, 20 and 21 years old. The kids are best friends and enjoy each other s company and being on a cruise together was one of the best times we have spent together as a family.
Me: How big a part of your life is writing?
Linda: I started writing small stories when I was a teenager, but back then, writing was difficult with a block tablet and a chisel, just kidding. The old pen and paper made writing a chore and I never finished an entire story. When I became a mother and my kids were so adventurous, I thought of stories about them and started to write again but never really thought of actually publishing a book. The invention of the computer really makes writing a pleasure. After J. K. Rawlings became such a world renowned success, I thought wow, she is just a mom and look what she did and she inspired me to actually finish an entire story.
Me: Do you have critiquing friends or are you more of a lone wolf when it comes to working on your ideas?
Linda: My children are where I work my ideas. If I have writers block or am thinking about a new creature or event, I bounce it off them, especially my daughter Rachel. She is fabulous when it comes to imagination. When I finished my first book I let a few friends and teachers read my manuscript to see what they thought and I told them to be brutal. They all gave me their critiques and I was open to them and it made the story better. They all encouraged me to publish the book.
Me: How long did it take you to get your novels done from start to finish?
Linda: The Elvin Realm took me a year and a half to complete. I went through it many times and had many changes until I thought it was right. The Rise of Zeflana only took me nine months to finish. With the experience of The Elvin Realm, the process was much smoother. I am launching The Rise of Zeflana this weekend on my website www.hiddentrees.com, please feel free to visit this site to read about both novels and readers reviews. I am also launching it on Amazon.com.
Me: What kinds of obstacles did you face?
Linda: With The Elvin Realm as my first book I had difficulty imagining the entire book at first. I took each chapter at a time and slowly it came together. The difficult part comes when you want someone to publish your work.
Me: What is your most memorable experience as an author so far?
Linda: I love to do presentations and book signings. I was setting up for a presentation at a local elementary school and a class of 3rd graders came by and asked why I was setting up a castle. I told them I was an author of a book and they got so excited. They all got out pens and wanted me to sign stuff, anything from their note pads, hands, arms and even their baseball caps. They made me feel like a star, it was amazing. Then when they came into the presentation, they all were all holding their autographs and smiling from ear to ear. When I go to a book signing, I dress in character, an elf, bring a castle and explain to the children how a book actually goes from your imagination to a book in your hand. All the steps from taking a story in your head and using your imagination to put it on paper, acquiring the ISBN number, bar codes, illustrator, editing, and finding a printer. Then the book shows up on your door step and wow, your name is actually on the front cover. How cool is that. Then I ask for volunteers and dress them in costumes like the characters in the book, they will be my actors. I ask for more volunteers and they will be the story tellers. One will start a story and the others will expand upon it, which is part of what is on the MEAP tests. As the story unfolds, the actors will act out the story. It is a fun and amazing experience for all as the children learn while having a great time. Then after the presentation, each child who has purchased a book will bring it up to me and I personally sign each one. After the children read the books, they write to me through email and tell me they can’t wait for the next book and when am I going to make the movie. Wow, every author would like their book made into a movie, I’m no exception, but I’m not holding my breath.
Me: Now on to the good part, your books. You said that you’re children inspired you to write your first novel, what role did they play (other than names) in creating the story?
Linda: My three children are the main characters in my book. I have used many of their actual antics and quirks to create their characters in the books. They also gave me ideas to add to the adventure as I was writing. Anders is really one of Tom’s friends, whose name is actually Adam. Adam is a red haired, muscular guy who I affectingly call the wall because no one could get past him in soccer. Tom and Adam are great friends who tease and encourage each other in the book as well as in real life. Deano and Cashanti, the two horses in the books are actually my daughter Rachel’s horses. Her current horse, Deano, performs in equestrian shows, such as dressage, jumping and eventing. Deano in the book jumps over streams and logs just as he does in real life. Scott was actually a State Champion gymnast, which I state in The Elvin Realm. He is very strong and agile and his muscles are ripped from head to toe, which, in the book, allows him to wield a sword so well. My children were the inspiration of both books and are the major part of the story.
Me: In just reading the blurbs for your books on your website, I am left with the impression of several other influences. Would it be fair to say that you were influenced by the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter series, and maybe possibly the movie Labyrinth?
Linda: [Besides those mentioned] I also liked Eragon and the Terry Brooks series, The Sword of Shannara. I love fantasy/adventure and I enjoyed all of those books and movies and yes they all had influence in my book. I did not want to copy anything from the above listed books, but create my own fantasy world in which I could escape to and explore. I wanted to write a book that would have so much action that the reader would never get board and want to keep reading to find out what happens next. When I was young I did not care to read, because I would get board in parts of the book, not keeping my interest I would set the book down and never finish it. Most children these days, with video games and TV need to read a book that will keep their interest. This is how I wrote my book, to some adults it might not be the greatest work of literature, but in the child’s eye, they can see and picture the events happening in their minds and turn it into a movie as they read. Keeping their attention will encourage them to look for more books that interest them, which will in turn, keep them reading. That was my goal from the start, encourage children to put down the game controller and pick up a good book. My books are not just for kids, many adults have purchased my books and emailed me as well wanting to know when the next one will be available. These are the same adults who read Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of The Rings. Adults too want to escape into another world and pretend for a moment to be a great hero, warrior, princess or even a villain.
Me: Will there be more books in the series?
Linda: At this time, The Rise of Zeflana is the conclusion of The Elvin Realm. I can continue if the readers wish. I want to hear their feedback, which was fabulous for The Elvin Realm. I have my website, www.hiddentrees.com in the back of both books so readers can email me and leave their reviews and feedback or ask questions. It also depends if a large publisher takes on the books, which will expose the story to the entire reading population.
If I do continue the series, I would probably expand on the relationship between Rachel and the Elvin Warrior Russom. Russom became fond of Rachel in The Elvin Realm and fell in love with her in The Rise of Zeflana. Also Tom and Vanquez have a little something going too. We could explore the mountains for treasure, as well as encounter new and exciting creatures. There is always room for more adventure into the Elvin Realm.
Me: If not another Elvin Realm, what is your next writing project and what can you tell us about it?
Linda: I love fantasy/adventure and I write to encourage reading. When I write again you can expect a magical world of new adventure and mystical beings with wild adventure around every corner. That’s what we all need, an occasional escape from reality and the everyday doldrums, to a world of excitement that will get your blood flowing and entice your every thought into the world of fantasy.
Me: Thanks for joining us today Linda and for giving us some great insight into who you are as a person, and as an author. I especially appreciate the glimpses into your two books.
Linda: I want to thank you so much for having me on your author blog. I feel honored to be the first young adult author and have really enjoyed the experience. I hope you enjoyed The Elvin Realm and The Rise of Zeflana and strive keep the fantasy alive.
Me: I now pass the baton to the readers out there! Feel free to ask Linda questions or to tell her what you thought of her books!