Today we are very pleased and excited to welcome USA Today Bestselling Author, CAROLINE LINDEN to Novels Alive and Be My Bard as she answers “10 Questions With…”
We’ve all pondered the age old question of which came first the CHICKEN or the EGG? As a writer, when creating a new story, which tends to come first for you—the CHARACTERS or the PLOT?
Definitely the characters, almost always. Sometimes a bit of the plot will come to me and I need to figure out how/if I can make it work with my characters, but often the plot springs very much from the characters.
It’s inevitable that small bits and pieces of a writer’s own personality will make their way into the characters they create. But if you had to write yourself into one of your books, would your character most likely be the hero/heroine, the steadfast best friend, the comedy relief or the villainous mastermind?
Ha! My kids would probably say the villainous mastermind, because I control the wifi password around here. But I believe everyone should be the heroine of her own story, so that’s what I would be: the calm, practical, capable heroine marveling at how everyone around her can be so crazy and eccentric. Then I would go away, all the better to enjoy the tearful reunion as my family admits they would fall to pieces without me (or at least have no food or clean clothes).
Speaking of villains…do you prefer writing characters that are clearly evil from the second they appear on the page or the surprise villain that no one would ever expect?
I think my preference is the villain who seems evil but turns out to have some redeeming qualities and motivations. Pure evil is too easy to hate.
If you had the power to step inside the pages of any book for 24 hours, which one would you choose and why?
Probably PERSUASION, by Jane Austen. It’s my favorite of hers, and it’s set in Bath, an unbelievably beautiful city.
If you could use that same power to jump through the screen into the world of your favorite television show or movie, which would it be and why?
If Han Solo would lead me by the hand into the engineering works of the Millenium Falcon and kiss me instead of fixing the hyperdrive, I would faint with happiness.
Over the last few years, books of an erotic nature or with taboo subject matter have become more acceptable—even popular—in the mainstream marketplace. How, if at all, has this change affected the way that you write your own “love scenes”?
No, not really. Those are still the most difficult scenes to write, for the most part, because it’s not just about what kinky act you can describe, it’s about the characters baring themselves and sharing something truly intimate with each other. Whether they are using whips and bondage or just missionary position, what really makes a sex scene work is the emotional connection between the participants. Of course, it’s always nice to have more freedom in writing what would best suit the characters, so even though it hasn’t really changed my own writing much, I’m very much in favor of there being less ‘taboo’ in general.
There was once a time when authors had to rely almost solely on mainstream media like newspapers and magazines to find reviews written on their latest book. Now that the internet has made it possible for anyone with a keyboard to become an armchair critic, has the sheer number of reviews available for your books made it easier or harder to deal with criticism?
I still firmly believe that reviews are for readers. I appreciate, tremendously, every positive review (and I do read many of them), but I also think people should be able to express disappointment or disapproval; as much as I try to write a good book and hope readers will enjoy it, not everyone will, and that’s normal. Every now and then someone will write a review that makes me wonder if they even read my book (wrong names, complaints about things that didn’t happen in the story) but what can you do? Sometimes reviewers will point out something I never knew, or never noticed, and I try to take those into account in future books. One woman wrote me early on to correct my capitalization of titles, which was very helpful. I’m always glad to learn something that will improve my work.
Many authors have branched out into multiple genres over the years. Is there a particular genre of fiction that you have always wanted to tackle but, haven’t tried yet?
Definitely! I will always love historical fiction, but lately I’ve been working on a contemporary idea. I also have a few young adult/new adult stories in mind. It would be nice to write something my children could read.
If you could choose one historical/contemporary romance from your own or another author’s library of work to be made into a feature film which would it be and why?
Ah, too hard to choose. All of my books are like movies in my mind—I can see and hear the characters. But it would be equally awesome to see any of my favorite historical romances made into films. There need to be more historical romantic films, period, in my opinion.
Tell us a little bit about the project you are working on now or share something about your newest or upcoming release(s).
My next book, IT TAKES A SCANDAL, is about an heiress who falls in love with a man who’s lost everything. I really like writing heroes who aren’t Lord of All They Survey, and this hero, Sebastian, is very down on his luck. His father went mad and ruined his estate, then disappeared, and people suspect Sebastian killed him. When Sebastian meets Abigail, he knows he should stay far, far away from her…but he can’t, especially not when she wants to get to know the real him. Sebastian has built a wall of indifference around himself, and Abigail looks past all the rumors and gossip and sees the honorable decent man inside. Unfortunately, everyone else disapproves and Abigail must face some very hard choices if she wants to be with him.
There’s a special bonus offer for IT TAKES A SCANDAL. If you buy/order it before 5/6 and submit proof of purchase, you can get three issues of 50 Ways to Sin (the very first plus the two issues Joan reads in LOVE AND OTHER SCANDALS). Abigail in IT TAKES A SCANDAL is still fascinated by these stories, and they play a part in the story. Here’s the link to the submission form:
CAROLINE LINDEN was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer code before discovering that writing fiction was far more fun. Eleven years, fourteen books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC-RWA Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award.