Interview with Linda Acaster
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a born and bred Brit, living in a sleepy seaside English town sitting atop clay cliffs. That may sound beyond dull, but Stone Age spear and axe heads occasionally get washed from the cliffs, there’s an Anglo-Saxon burial ground just off my street, not far from the town is a motte and bailey earthwork from a 1068 Norman castle, and within an hour’s drive there is medieval York (once Jorvik, the Viking capital of northern England, and Roman Eboracum built by the Ninth Legion before they faded into historic obscurity and from where Emperor Constantine decreed the Empire would embrace Christianity), the sites of Celtic chariot burials, and the tallest Neolithic monolith in the country. If you gain the impression that landscape and history might impact my fiction, you could be right.
- Who are your favorite authors?
I don’t have any. Yes, I know that’s odd, but there is no single author whose new books I rabidly devour. I pick and choose not on the strength of the author’s name but on the content of their fiction. I enjoy reading Stephen King, as long as he’s not being too wordy, for the way he develops the ordinary into the extraordinary; the late Robert Holdstock for the believable way he ran with British myths; Ian Rankin for his contemporary Scottish noir Crime; Lindsey Davies for her accessible Roman lifestyles; Martin Cruz Smith in particular for the thriller “Wolves Eat Dogs”, the late Tony Hillerman for his accessible depiction of modern Navajo life; the ghost stories of MR James and Charles Dickens… and on it goes. When I’m not reading for research I like to dip into the work of indie authors. Occasionally I’m disappointed, but very often I’m not. That’s the beauty of “Read Inside” as a taster.
- Tell us a little about your books. I see you like to delve into many different genres.
Maybe my answer to (2) is the reason – LOL! I started by writing short fiction, for women’s magazines to help pay the bills, for SF/F/Horror start-ups for the enjoyment. I’ve always liked history (yeah, tell ’em something they don’t know…) and won a competition which needed to be loosely in the Women’s Historical sub-genre. That gained a publisher for what became the medieval Hostage of the Heart. Unfortunately it also pigeonholed me beneath the Romance umbrella.
Publishers at the time held their authors in what I can only describe as The Vulcan Death Grip. We compromised with the Native American Beneath The Shining Mountains under an appalling title of the publisher’s choosing – I was a Northern Plains re-enactor at the time; the Brits are nothing if not eccentric. The publisher wanted more panting bosoms (oh pleez...) and less historical detail, but the title remains my biggest seller, mostly because of the historical detail and the multi-viewpoints. I disengaged myself by gaining a contract for a Fantasy, which the new publisher reneged on, and my agent wouldn’t fight for, but that’s life.
When indie authoring via ebooks finally opened to the UK I grasped it with both hands; a sharp learning curve but a worthwhile one. I decided to write for myself at last and the Torc of Moonlight script, which had gained great comments but no contract, was revived and re-written as *I* wanted it to appear. There is nothing so demoralizing for an author as re-writing to a publisher’s agenda and then having that publisher go meh…
The trilogy is themed on the resurrection of a Celtic water deity – my part of England has more natural springs named Lady Well than anywhere in the UK – and I follow through the Celtic marker number Three with a contemporary storyline over-arcing the novels, another placing each novel, and a historical storyline mirroring the individual novel’s theme. Book 1 is Celtic, Book 2 is Roman set in York/Eboracum, Book 3, still being written, is set in and around medieval monastic life in Durham. All the places mentioned in the historical sections can still be walked, as can the contemporary. The books could be used as guides in their university cities. History – all of it – isn’t just inches beneath our feet, it’s the backbeat to our lives. Even in the USA.
My latest, The Paintings, is as different as it could be: first person, female protagonist, a ghost story without the ghost. After all, what is a ghost? It’s an essence, and an essence can be… I enjoy thinking aspects through and turning them on their head. Writing a captivating story is all about the prep.
- If you could travel back in time to any place and period in the past where and when would you go?
You want a list? Celt, Roman, Norse… but in truth I think I’d chicken out. People can have a starry-eyed view of history. Can you really imagine yourself in a shield-wall? Watch swellings rise on your lover’s skin and know that you, too, are soon going to end in an agonizing death? Be carried off into slavery, or abused by those supposed to protect you? I’d be terrified I couldn’t get back. To say, nothing of the smell and being sozzled all the time from drinking ale because the water’s foul. Yes, it’s all very well studying history, but actually being there…! Perhaps my imagination is locked too closely into the reality.
- What attracts you to writing in your various genres?
The prep. Asking endless questions of a scenario and not accepting the first answer, studying those answers from an oblique angle. Very often it is at this stage that the genre, and sub-genre, become apparent.
- Are you planning to participate in any anthologies? Any hints about your story?
I re-started writing short fiction a few months ago after a long lay off. Contribution to Mankind and other stories of the Dark is currently being revitalized (I needed to up the cover, but why stop there?) One story I was going to add to it I’ve instead offered to an anthology and I’m currently waiting to hear. It’s a creeping Horror centred on a 19th century explorer. Using first-person viewpoint I could convey the arrogance and short-sightedness of the age. My readers tend to have to work, at least a little; I don’t lay it all out on a plate, they need to read between the lines and pick up inferences.
- What do you like to do to relax?
Reading mostly, and most of that is research material. When I just want to flop I go for the TV. Don’t start thinking Soaps. In the UK our television companies do some cracking documentaries, so I go for titles like ‘Digging for Britain’ (latest archaeological finds), ‘Medieval Dead’ (never opt for being buried; in the future some fresh-faced child with a college degree and a trowel will upset your expected rest), or one of the host of non-ancient history programs available. It’s amazing what odd piece of information can spark an idea for a story or a character or research. I choose my movies: too often I’m picking holes in the plot.
- What are you currently working on?
A series of blogposts on a recent trip to Orkney and Faroe, archipelagos in the Atlantic north of the UK. If at all possible I like to walk landscapes I’m going to write about, and next year I may well try my hand at an adventure aimed at early teen boys. There’s nothing like setting myself a challenge, and why would anyone want to write the same sort of fiction all the time? Speculative, certainly; Horror, it’ll have its moments. Which young lad doesn’t like to be frightened? I have on the go a speculative short about an auction find: I used to go to a lot of auctions and it’s amazing what can be picked up. And to bring the final in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy to fruition.
- How can readers connect with you?
I’d welcome them!
Amazon.com page: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Acaster/e/B002TNCOQE/
or for world-wide stores: http://Author.to/LindaAcaster
Thanks for the chat; I’ve enjoyed it. I hope your readers have, too.
I was a drummer she was a dancer-a true love story [Kindle Edition]
A fascinating journey through punk rock and new wave, love and loss, and finally joy and closure. From St. Louis to Martha’s Vineyard, and Germany to the Czech Republic. Drummer dancer reads like a diary of obsessive love and one man’s struggle to cope that finally led him to writing this brutally honest autobiography.
With 25 lyrics & 21 photographs as haunting and telling as the story itself.
You can make the blue skies, bluer,
The soft ocean breezes, softer,
The warm bed, warmer.
You can make love, lovelier,
The soft full kiss, fuller,
A warm embrace, warmer,
You can never take,
What you’ve given,
You can never remove,
A memory you made,
You can never hide,
A feeling so deep,
As I felt the day you,
Barbara Mack has been fascinated by words and writing since early childhood. The first story she put into print format was about the birds who came to nest in the gardening shed; it reviewed well with critics (the neighbors, her mother and father, grandparents, etc.) She then had a poem – Love Never Dies – published in an international magazine at age 11, and she’s never looked back.
She currently has several historical romance novels available and when she’s not writing furiously, you can find her in the kitchen. Her cookbook Easy, Fabulous Bread Making: A collection of quick, no-knead bread recipes is consistently in the top 50 Amazon books on bread making. The well-reviewed Chasing the Sunset spent 14 weeks in the top 5 historical romances from Amazon.
The Wandering Soul
He was so young,
When he left home.
Forced to work,
And forever roam.
From town to town,
The young man Lived,
Never to discover,
What he did.
He lives in a world,
That is all his own,
No one may enter,
He likes it alone.
On a rainy night,
He lost his life,
A fellow traveler,
Used a blunted knife.
Forever free now,
His sprit does comb,
Looking for love,
And warm place to call home.
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America [Kindle Edition]
Jill Leovy (Author)
A masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America
On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder—a “ghettoside” killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities—and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.
Praise for Ghettoside
“Ghettoside is fantastic. It does what the best narrative nonfiction does: It transcends its subject by taking one person’s journey and making it all our journeys. That’s what makes this not just a gritty, heart-wrenching, and telling book, but an important one. From the patrol cop to the president, everyone needs to read this book.”—Michael Connelly
“Jill Leovy writes with exceptional sharpness and tautness, and her pages glow and glitter with the found poetry of the street. This book will take an honored place on the shelf that includes David Simon’s classic Homicide and Michelle Alexander’s explosive study of mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow.”—Martin Amis
“A gripping and powerful account of urban homicide investigation in the United States.”—Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove
“Unmissable . . . I’m astonished by Jill Leovy’s forthcoming Ghettoside. Police and race in America are examined with forensic skill and furious, exceptional prose. Lucid, revelatory, superbly written, incredibly timely. A book of the year.”—Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee
“Ghettoside is a brilliant taxonomic investigation into the American violence epidemic disguised as a highly entertaining true crime book.”—Matt Taibbi, author of The Divide
“A thoroughly engrossing true-life policier full of vivid and sympathetic characters, but also the bravest book about race and crime I’ve ever read.”—Dan Baum, author of Nine Lives
“What an amazing book—a totally gripping piece of reporting.”—Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking
“Absorbing . . . Readers may come for Leovy’s detective story; they will stay for her lucid social critique.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)