Some Background about Linda
Linda Gillard lives in North Lanarkshire, in central Scotland. She's also lived on the Isle of Arran and spent six years on the Isle of Skye.
She graduated from Bristol University and trained as an actress at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. For eight years she pursued an acting career, the highlight of which was appearing on stage at the National Theatre with Geraldine McEwan, TV's Miss Marple. The lowlight was playing a fairy for four rainy months in an open-air production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in London's Regent's Park.
Whilst under-employed at the National Theatre, Linda accidentally became a freelance journalist and wrote light-hearted articles for magazines, many based on her semi-self-sufficient "Good Life" in rural Cambridgeshire. For twelve years she had a humorous column in IDEAL HOME about family life. Linda ran her two careers concurrently for a while, then decided to give up acting to focus on journalism and raising a family. At the age of 40 she re-trained as a primary teacher and taught in Norfolk specialising in English and Art. She decided to re-think her career yet again after she was assaulted by a disturbed pupil.
The re-think entailed giving up teaching and downshifting to Skye, realising a long-held dream to move to the Highlands and write full-time. For six years Linda lived on a hillside overlooking the Cuillins, a mountain range featured in her first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, published in 2005 by Transita.
Linda's second novel A LIFETIME BURNING was published in 2006. Her third, STAR GAZING, set on the Isle of Skye and in Edinburgh, was published by Piatkus in 2008 and was short-listed for three awards including Romantic Novel of the Year.
After she was dropped by her publisher, Linda published her fourth novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE as an e-book in 2011. It quickly became a Kindle bestseller, selling 20,000 downloads in its first year. In 2018 Linda signed a book deal with Amazon's Lake Union Publishing to re-publish THE TRYSTING TREE. It was re-titled THE MEMORY TREE.
She was a founder member in 2012 of the professional body, The Alliance of Independent Authors.
All Linda's novels are available as ebooks and paperbacks. Some are available as audiobooks and in Large Print editions.
Linda is available for readings, talks and writing workshops and she has written Reading Group Guides for some of her books. Email her if you'd like free copies.
Signed copies of Linda's novels are available. For more information contact Linda at email@example.com
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where do you get your ideas from?
People. The characters always come first, then a sense of place. I don't need a story, just a situation that gets me thinking, "What if...?"
Do you plan your books in advance?
I have a general idea of the story arc, but I don't plan much, I just write and see what happens. I like the uncertainty. I think I write more bravely without the safety net of a detailed synopsis. I have a theory that the un-put-downable quality of my books that readers often refer to is because I don't know what's going to happen next, so the reader can't possibly know. It comes as a surprise to all of us!
Longhand or word processor?
Always longhand first. I can write straight on to a keyboard but found I wrote better in pencil on A4 pads.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block?
If I come up against problems with the story - by which I mean I know what the book needs, but I don't know how to do it - I just wait until the characters tell me how to resolve things. I find solutions usually come when I'm washing up or in the shower. They never hit you when you're thinking about them. But writing has become much more difficult since I had breast cancer. Chemotherapy left me semi-disabled in my hands and feet and I now suffer from chronic pain, so it takes me much longer to produce a novel now.
Your books are quite different from each other. Do you have a favourite or a favourite character?
My favourite is A LIFETIME BURNING. I think that's my best book, though it's not my most popular. But I'm also very fond of HOUSE OF SILENCE and UNTYING THE KNOT. As for favourite characters, I usually fall in love with the current hero. I also have a soft spot for Garth the Goth in STAR GAZING. I'm embarrassed to admit he actually used to make me laugh out loud when I was writing the book. Garth was a real tonic.
STAR GAZING was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year 2009 award. Do you see yourself as a writer of romance?
No, I don't. My agent says I don't write romance, I write love stories. I suppose it depends what you mean by romance. STAR GAZING is very romantic but it's not a romance. It was short-listed for the UK's first environmental book award!
Some of my favourite books are so-called romances by Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart. I suppose "romances" are stories you don't need to take seriously, they're pure entertainment. All my novels tackle serious issues. STAR GAZING is a love story with a blind, widowed, middle-aged heroine. EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY deals with mental illness, but it's not a heavy read because of the humour and the love story. UNTYING THE KNOT is probably the most romantic book I've written, but it's about a divorced couple. He's an ex-soldier who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
All my books have romantic elements, but they aren't romances.
Are you working on another book at the moment?
I'm working on another dual-timeline novel with a WWI theme, like HIDDEN and THE MEMORY TREE. This will be my fourth novel tackling that war, the other being THE GLASS GUARDIAN. The 21st-century parts of the book are set on Tresco, one of the Isles of Scilly.
What advice would you have for a would-be novelist?
Read. Read widely, read analytically. Learn from the great writers. You can also learn a lot from bad writers! Research your genre. Will anyone want to read your book? Is there a market for it? But write for writing's sake. Don't expect publication or financial reward - you are very unlikely to get either unless you go down the indie route. When you feel angry about your unsolicited manuscript being rejected, remember: nobody asked you to submit it!
If you're thinking of going indie, write the best book you possibly can and make sure it's properly edited. Ideally, wait until you have several books ready to publish. It's hard to make an impact with just one.
I would also recommend that any would-be indie author joins the professional body, The Alliance of Independent Authors. They offer advice, support and friendship. Their closed Facebook group is a mine of information, generously shared.
Which writers do you admire?
In alphabetical order: Margery Allingham, the Brontës, Anita Brookner, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Daphne du Maurier, Dorothy Dunnett, George Eliot, E M Forster, Margaret Forster, Elizabeth Gaskell, Rumer Godden, Elizabeth Goudge, Graham Greene, Georgette Heyer, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Susan Howatch, John le Carré, Patrick O' Brian, Shakespeare, Mary Stewart and Dorothy Whipple.
I would also cite Bruce Springsteen's songs as a literary influence and inspiration.
Is there a particular book or author that inspired you to be a writer?
I don't remember a time when I didn't write or make up stories. As a child I used to make comics and write little plays. The first time I dared to think, "Maybe I could do this..." was as a teenager in the 60s when I read the romantic suspense novels of Mary Stewart. She was a big influence and I still re-read her with enjoyment.
Which books do you wish you'd written?
THE GAME OF KINGS by Dorothy Dunnett. (I've written a piece about Dunnett for the Bookshelf page on this site.) GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY by Elizabeth Goudge. SMILEY'S PEOPLE by John le Carré. JAMAICA INN by Daphne du Maurier.
LINDA GILLARD: HEARTS AND CRAFTS AND INDEPENDENCE
An appreciation by novelist Lorna Fergusson, author of THE CHASE. A longer version of this article appeared on Lorna's blog LITERASCRIBE, April 16, 2012)
I've just finished EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, the third of Linda Gillard's novels I've read and enjoyed - the others being HOUSE OF SILENCE and UNTYING THE KNOT.
...So what have I enjoyed in Linda's writing? Heart, first of all. She has a warm and vibrant interest in what makes men and women tick. Her heroines are challenged by being outcast or ill, by being middle-aged in a youth-dominated culture. They are highly individual, creative and frequently troubled. They are scarred by memory. They fear but they also risk. They have children, grown up, with whom they conduct a loving war of the generations. They love the colours and tactile joys of textiles: they express imagination and feeling through shape and texture, finding creativity soothing and affirming when life knocks them off their feet. They commune with nature, are uplifted and healed by it in a way that any Romantic poet would relate to. They have men: and I mean it, dear reader - they have men. Linda's heroines are full of passion and longing, yet they fear to trust, because the men who awake that burning lust in them are imperfect. Her men are sexy, they talk a lot, they are strong and weak, they carry baggage from the past and they don't always handle that baggage - or the baggage they fancy - all that well.
Linda writes about imperfection: her characters are always human and frequently haunted (in UNTYING THE KNOT literally so). Her writing veers from high comedy to pathos to tragedy and back again. Her stories are sustained by the beauty of the descriptions of the landscapes and by the vigour of the sparky dialogue. She is popular because women, grown-up women, are her focus - and grown-up women are looking for grown-up books which will engage them and satisfy them. Commentators on Facebook even weigh up which of her heroes, her imperfect yet chivalrous heroes, is their favourite.
EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY's Calum for me, by the way. So far ...