In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing
victim author and they choose their own interview by handpicking which questions (and how many!) they want to answer. I read Gwynneth Ever After and was delighted with Linda Poitevin’s engaging portrayal a young mother with reservations about dating and introducing new men to her children.. Here is what Linda had to say about reading, writing, and avoiding “Satan”!
Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?
Thank you so much for inviting me here today, Nicole! I love meeting new bloggers (*waves*), and I think the 20-questions theme you have going here is a brilliant idea.
Let’s see…about me. I’m Canadian, married, mom to three girls (all grown up now), and living near Ottawa, Canada’s capital. I’ve been a writer all my life in the sense that I’ve always created stories. My best friend in high school and I used to write romances about our idols, lol! I started to actively pursue the idea of publication when my daughters were little, but finding time to put (and keep) my butt in the chair was challenging sometimes, so it took a while for me to actually finish a book.
I started out writing category-type happy-ever-after romances (I’ve just self-published one that was originally released through a small press), and then moved into urban fantasy genre with my Grigori Legacy series. The first book in the series, Sins of the Angels, was actually intended to be a paranormal romance, but it took on a life of its own and became much darker than I’d anticipated—so I suppose you could say that I fell into the UF genre by accident. I’m very glad to have done so, however, as I’m thoroughly enjoying exploring the evil streak I apparently possess…
I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you thorough the writing process?
I don’t have a particular ritual/food/other prop that I need for writing, no. But routine is definitely important to me. I find I think most creatively first thing in the morning, before the day’s demands begin creeping in to distract me, and so I generally have an early start. I’m up at 5:30 to feed the animals (we have two cats, a rabbit, a bearded dragon lizard, and a very, very large dog), out the door by 6:00 to walk the dog, and in my chair for 7:00. Apart from that, I would say my only other need is sheer persistence in order to maintain that routine…especially as the days get shorter and I have to get up in the dark and cold (*shudder*).
Did you know what you wanted the title of the book to be? How involved were in choosing the name of the book?
Sins of the Angels was originally entitled “The Tenth Choir” to reflect its basis in angel mythology—specifically the Grigori, who were the original fallen angels. My agent felt that the title was too vague (and given what I’ve learned about the industry since getting into publishing, I would agree). We went back and forth with several ideas before settling on my suggested “Sins of an Angel,” which was the title under which the proposal went out to editors. When Penguin USA acquired the rights, my editor felt that title was too romance-y, and so there was more back-and-forth until it further evolved into Sins of the Angels. (And I think that answers the question of how involved I was, lol.) Sins of the Son was a natural follow-up to the first title, and set the “Sins” theme for the remainder of the series: Sins of the Lost, which comes out in October, and finally, Sins of the Warrior.
Do you ever look back at your early work? How do you feel your writing style or approach to writing has evolved since you first began?
I do look back at my early work occasionally, yes. Usually with a shudder, lol! I can’t even begin to describe all the ways in which my writing has improved since I began. The learning process has been a humbling experience, to be honest. There are so, so many aspects to my craft that I didn’t have a clue about when I started out: point of view; pacing; world-building; avoiding the information dump; internal and external goals, motivations, and conflicts; and the list goes on. And I’m still learning, too. Every book teaches me something new that I try to incorporate into the next. It turns out that storytelling is hard work!
What were your experiences with reading when you were growing up? Was there a pivotal moment in discovering literature when you knew that you wanted to be a writer?
I read voraciously when I was growing up…and very eclectically, too. My father was a science fiction fan, and I read everything he brought home. Our neighbor brought over a bag of Harlequin romances for my mother and I read those. In Grade 5, I challenged myself to read as many of the books in the library as I could, starting at the beginning of the ‘A’ shelf in the fiction section (I think I made it to ‘G’ or ‘H’ before leaving that school at the end of Grade 7). In high school, I started reading high fantasy (Piers Anthony was a favorite), then moved on to things like Anna Karenina and The Count of Monte Cristo. Like I said…eclectic!
As for a pivotal point where I discovered I wanted to be a writer…that pivot came later in life and was more of a realization that I could be a writer. Pursuit of fiction-writing as a career was definitely discouraged when I was growing up, I’m afraid.
How many works in progress do you have going at any one time? How do you know when one has potential and when one just needs to be scrapped?
I work on one book at a time, mostly because I’m afraid that if I had more than that going, none of them would ever be done. (My greatest challenge in life is finishing the projects I start…just ask my husband.) And so far I haven’t had to scrap an entire story. Scenes, yes, but not the whole story. I think that’s partly because I mull my ideas over for such a long time before I start writing them down. By the time I put fingers on the keyboard, I already have a good mental sense of my character, where he/she is starting, and where he/she will end up. I suppose you might say scrapping process happens at that stage—if I don’t have an ending in mind, the story never gets a start.
Who was your favorite character to write, and why did you have an affinity for that character in particular?
This might sound weird, but one of my favorite characters to write was Lucifer, because he was one of the most challenging. I really wanted to make him three-dimensional—and to avoid the stereotypical ‘Satan’ image. Climbing inside his head to uncover his motivations wasn’t an easy thing to do, but doing so really helped me to grow as a writer…to look beyond the obvious, to keep asking ‘why’ until I reached his true essence. You have to admire—figuratively speaking!—a character that can do that for you.
Did you have to do much research when working on your books, and do you tend to write first or research first?
You’ve seen the email exchange between me and my agent, haven’t you? Lol! Truthfully, I tend to be one of those jump-in-with-both-feet-and-ask-questions-later types…so when it came to the first book in the Grigori Legacy series, it was definitely a matter of doing the bulk of the research after the fact.
When I wrote Sins of the Angels, I had a basic knowledge of angel mythology—and an awesome friend who gave me all kinds of background stories. It was enough that I was able to write a story that caught the attention of my agent, but not enough to satisfy her. That’s when I learned all about world-building…via six pages of notes from Becca and the resultant complete rewrite of the book. It’s not an approach I advocate, and I’m hoping to be wiser when I start work on a new series.
Where do you most love to write? Are there places where it comes to you easier than others?
My most productive writing place is in a coffee shop, where I can plug myself into my music and shut out the world around me…and where I don’t have the distractions of laundry, animals, and family members wanting to ask me questions. Hanging out in coffee shops all day gets a little expensive, however, so I’ve been working on disciplining myself (and my family!) to write at home. Now that two of my daughters have moved out, I have an office with a door that locks, and during the good weather, I try to work outside on the back terrace where I’m less visible as a target. Except to the dog.
Sins of the Lost releases on October 15th (yay!) in digital format, and I’ve started working on Sins of the Warrior, the fourth and final book in the series. After that, I have another series in mind…but I swear I’m going to do the research on it first!
About: Linda Poitevin is the author of the dark urban fantasy series, The Grigori Legacy, from Ace/Roc Books. Linda lives near Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and in her other life is wife, mother, friend, gardener, coffee snob, freelance writer, and zookeeper of too many pets. When she isn’t writing, Linda can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods.