Linda Hall's Steal Away

My guest today is Linda Hall. Linda spent the early years of her writing career as a journalist and freelance writer. Then, in 1990 she decided to do something she'd always dreamed of doing. She began working on her first novel. That book, The Josiah Files, was published in 1992. Since that time she’s written eighteen more mystery and suspense novels.

Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. Linda grew up in New Jersey and her love of the ocean was born there. In 1971, she married a Canadian who loves the water just as much as she does. She moved to Canada and has lived there ever since. One of the things she and her husband enjoy is sailing. In the summer, they move aboard their 34' sailboat aptly named Mystery.

Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace, Linda. Let’s talk writing!

Anne - When did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

Linda - I think I was born knowing that I would write. Well, maybe not quite at birth, but certainly from an early age my real life was intertwined with the stories I made up. I was an introverted shy kid, called a crybaby by some and stories provided a safe place to escape into. Nancy Drew was my hero. I made up and wrote down stories of my own. They usually involved me doing something brave to save my school, thus turning me into the hero rather than the invisible person that I always felt I was.

After high school I studied journalism. By this time I was writing, not stories so much as poetry and nonfiction articles. For a number of years I worked as a reporter writing hard news and features. I loved it! But something constantly niggled at the back of my heart. I wanted to write a novel. Twenty years ago I began my first book. Since that time I’ve written and published eighteen novels of mystery and suspense.

And I’m still a rather introverted adult, and shy. And I could even be described as a crybaby, although at my age I prefer the word ‘emotional’ or ‘empathetic.’ I realize that my tears are a gift. They allow me to get deeply inside the minds and hearts of my characters. I think I was meant to write stories.

Anne - Tell us about your book.

Linda - I wrote Steal Away around six or seven years ago and it was published by WaterBrook Press/Random House. It was going to be the beginning of a wonderful romance, with many more mysteries featuring the sleuthing skills of my PI character Teri Blake-Addison. But after one more book, the ‘series’ was dropped. But such is the way of publishing, and soon I was on to other things and new books and new contracts, and poor Teri was forgotten.

But not by me. I always intended to bring her back, and now with the advent of ebooks, I just might be able to! In the past few months I have re-written and edited through the original Steal Away, and am proud to bring it out as a $2.99 eBook - the first in a new series.

Steal Away begins the story of PI Teri Blake-Addison. Her specialty is finding people. But Teri often finds a lot more than her clients want! In this book she is hired by a well known televangelist to find out what really happened to his wife. Five years previously she was in a sailboat accident with two friends. Their bodies were found. Her's wasn't. The minister wants to get married again yet is troubled by "ghosts of the past" and he wants to put to rest once and for all what happened to his wife.

Of course, nothing is as it seems...

Anne – Would you give us a sneek peek via an excerpt?

Linda – Yes!

It took her three days to dig the grave. Exhausting work, and made more so by the fact that it could only be done at night. She could not risk Audrey finding out. Better if she didn’t know. Better if she lived the rest of her small life not knowing.

“She is gone. She’s just gone,” is what would be said to the child.

There was no coffin, no satin lined casket, no memorial service broadcast on national television, no flowers; just a body wound in a new blanket and hidden behind the foundation stones at the back of the house. She had toyed with the idea of taking the body out to sea. There was a wooden dory pulled up on the shore below the cliff. At high tide she could heave it down to the water, place the body inside and row out as far as she was able. But that presented its own set of problems. Could she manage to slide the body out of the boat without capsizing it? And what if the body, instead of sinking and burying itself in the layers of bottom mud, washed up on some distant shore, a product of these unpredictable tides and swirling currents? There would be fingerprints, hair and cloth fibers. There were things they could do now, things they could discover. DNA. She had no idea how these things worked, but she couldn’t take the risk. There was Audrey to think about. No. Burial in the earth would be a comfort, she thought. No one deserves to die at sea.

The site she chose was a hundred feet up the hillside, protected by trees, and offered a view of the bay. She had walked the length of these, her woods, that bordered the craggy foggy cliffs, and all was sea swept and harsh, save for this one sheltered space. Flowers actually grew here in the summer, and the ground was pliable for digging.

Anne – Thank you so much! Where can readers get a copy of Steal Away?

Linda – At Amazon and at Smashwords.

Anne - What do you enjoy most about writing? What part do you loathe?

Linda - I love the beginnings of books, when everything fresh and new, and ideas flow so freely they even wake me up at night. I get up with a smile, because I can’t wait to sit down at the computer and work on that wonderful masterpiece. Endings are nice, too. Finally the marathon is over. Finally, all of the sweat and tears are worth it. I love ‘having written.’

What I find loathsome are the middles of books. I’ve spent too much time up to this point to abandon the project and yet, what I’m writing usually feels like the worse thing I’ve ever cobbled together in my life. Everyone will hate it, and if I ever get through it I promise I will never write another word for the rest of my life! It’s long, it’s hard. It’s a true marathon taking months.

But, then I get to the end, and I begin the process all over again!

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Linda - One of my favorite characters is Marnie in Steal Away. She runs a B&B on Grand Manan Island. She’s feisty and strong, a gossip, and addicted to romance novels, and online shopping. Despite the fact that she offers her guests ‘breakfast’, she’s a terrible cook. Most guests find excuses to head to town for coffee which hasn’t been boiled for ten minutes and fatty bacon dripping eggs. Teri and her husband spend time at Marnie’s B&B when they are tracking down the missing person. Marnie only tells them after one night, that a ghost haunts the room they were in, and did they see it?  But her constant gossiping is a boon when Teri needs to find out information about the locals.

Anne - What activity (cause, charity, or organization) consumes your time when you’re away from the keyboard?

Linda - I volunteer once a week at a local nursing home. I call myself an ‘old folk singer’ and in spite of the fact that I’m basically an introvert, if you put a guitar in my hand I will sing for anyone! So, once a week, my and my very old Martin guitar tromp off to a local nursing home where we sit in a circle and I sing old folk songs. I love the people there, and often they join in if the song is familiar. When I was looking at ‘giving back’ to my community in terms of volunteering, I decided I wanted to do something very different than my every day writing. I wanted something more hands on, and since I basically like older folk, (Please - my worst nightmare is volunteering at a daycare! Give me older people any day!) I decided that a nursing home would be something I would love. And I do. I usually come home energized.

Anne – Where can readers reach you online?

Linda – at my website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Anne – Thank you so much for dropping by, Linda. I wish you and Steal Away every success. Happy writing!

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