CB: Welcome Linda, it's nice to have you here this month on Writer's Block. I love doing these interviews with other authors as it gives me more of a feel for the person behind the name on the front of the cover. So let's begin with a brief history by telling us a little about you. You grew up in California - married, children, pets, hobbies?
LS: Yes, I grew up in California-born and raised in Sonoma County about 60 miles north of San Francisco. I'm married to a wonderful, hard working man. His name is Robert, and we just celebrated our 25th anniversary last September. We have one child, Michelle, and she is ten. About five years ago, we moved to Shasta County where we own ten acres in the foothills of Mt. Lassen. We share our beautiful spread with three dogs and two cats. When I'm not writing, I enjoy working outside whether it's yard work, creating rock gardens, growing veggies, or stacking wood. I also scrapbook, take lots of pictures, sew, craft, and I know my way around a kitchen.
CB: What do you enjoy most about writing?
LS: I have a vivid imagination, and writing allows me to put all these things in my head onto paper. I love to weave tales around what interests me the most, and what I consider important in my life. Being a follower of Christ, my faith in Him serves as the foundation in my writing. My stories always revolve around God to some degree, depending on what the story is about. In the end, He is always glorified. I firmly believe I wouldn't have the ability to write if not for Him. In addition to the gift of writing, I believe God has put an innate love for the Native people in my heart. I love including their culture and history in my writing. I've had this passion within me for as long as I can remember, but it has only been the last few years that God has opened doors for me to learn more about the Indigenous people of this land, and pulling me into some sort of Native ministry.
CB: And the least or more difficult aspect?
LS: I tend to get long-winded. It's part of being excited about a story and going for it. I tend to be a by-the-seat-of-the-pants writer. Although I do take notes whenever an idea pops into my head and do lots of research, but when it comes down to writing, I seem to go crazy. I joined a critique group for the novel I'm currently working on which has helped me see just how crazy my writing can get. I need to be more organized and take the time to write out a plot first!
CB: Any stumbling blocks along the way and if so, how did you overcome those?
LS: As I mentioned, I joined a critique group. I didn't realize just how many stumbling blocks I actually had until I got the critiques back on my first chapter. Don't laugh, but I've written an entire novel and had it published without knowing what POV is, showing verses telling, and a few other minor details. It's very humbling to admit this. Actually, I don't mind if you laugh.
CB: One question I find that can have two answers, usually has one more often than I thought. So tell us, are you a "by the seat of your pants" writer, or do you plan out your characters, storyline, plot, settings, etc. ahead of time or just "go with the flow" like I do?
LS: I beat you to the punch on this question! Yep, I'm one of those "go with the flow" writers, or in my case, "go with the flood". After what I've learned since my first novel, and even my work in progress, I need to make more of an effort to plan ahead. I suppose that I already do this with the major characters and settings, but minor characters seem to materialize as I write. I think this is one of the fun parts about writing. Sometimes I never know what's going to happen, and I know this has to do with God putting the words in me.
CB: Do you do any research before writing a story and if so, what?
LS: Absolutely. Most of the research comes from the internet, some from books, or by talking with people. I did lots of research with my first novel, Singing Winds. Since it's a historical romance, I needed to learn what the setting was like in late 1800's. The Maidu Indians were a big part of the story, so I researched how they lived during that time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I enjoyed learning about their culture, how they dressed, what they ate, and how they built their homes. My second novel is a contemporary romance about an optometry student who travels to the Blackfeet Indian reservation to serve as an intern in the eye clinic there. In the case of people groups, especially Native Americans, I don't believe in poetic license. Proper research is priceless, but it can't stop there. My plan before I seek publication for this current novel is to present the story to the Blackfeet Tribe for their approval. God has blessed me with a friend who has contacts there.
CB: Have you ever written a series or do you think you may in the future and if so, why?
LS: No, I haven't. If God leads me to do so, I certainly won't object.
CB: Tell us briefly about what you've written and how we can purchase copies?
LS: My debut novel, Singing Winds, is available for sale at a discount through my website. It is a historical adventure romance set in the late 1800's in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The synopsis and excerpts from two chapters are on my website. My second novel, Through the Eyes of Liberty, is a contemporary adventure romance and is still in the works, but I have a synopsis on my website for those interested in learning more about it.
CB: What one thing stands out among all the others as far as influencing your writing?
LS: I can answer this in one name: God.
CB: What are your goals or what do you hope to do with your writing in the future?
LS: I plan to keep on writing until my fingers fall off, God gives me permanent writer's block, or I leave this earth. I have so many ideas for stories, it isn't funny. Well, maybe it is. I enjoy writing so much that I hope to do it for many more years. My main goal is to show God's love to the world. My second is to bridge the gap between the white world and Native world to achieve harmony the way God intended it to be. There is so much to learn from our First Nations brothers and sisters.
CB: Where can we learn more about you and your work?
LS: My website is the best place: http://www.lindastrawn.com/
CB: Do you feel God has paved the way for you and if so, in what aspect?
LS: How many pages can I fill up in your newsletter? God has given me this gift first and foremost, and as long as I use it for His glory, there is no end to the list of aspects this encompasses. There are many issues in this world I can write about in a way that brings hope and encouragement to the reader. In my first novel, the issue of an unloving parent and the insecurities this has instilled in the child is shown. The heroine in my second novel finds herself the victim of date rape. Subsequent books will deal with infertility, adoption, growing up in a large single income family, and only the Lord knows what else I may write about.
CB: Is there anything else you would like to add that I may not have brought up in this interview, Linda?
LS: Between the two of us, we've covered a lot. I would like to add that becoming an author has been an exciting adventure for me. I've met many wonderful people (you're one of them), and I've learned much. The exciting thing is I'm just getting started. I haven't even been to a writer's conference yet!
CB: Thank you so much for your valuable time, Linda. I've enjoyed interviewing you and I'm looking forward to watching your success as you continue writing.