Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Linda Windsor has been writing contemporary and historical romances since 1990 for both secular and inspirational lines. Her restored 18th century home on the eastern shore of Maryland is an inspirational setting in itself. It has an office lined with historical reference books! Her pride is her collection of Celtic histories of Ireland and the British Isles. The Fires of Gleannmara, an early Irish historical trilogy consisting of Maire, Riona and Deirdre, won numerous awards in the secular and inspirational industry, including the National Readers Choice, the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year, and a Christy finalist medallion. The series was inspired by Thomas Cahill’s nonfiction work, How The Irish Saved Civilization. Windsor was compelled to portray that golden age of Ireland through a three century family saga of kings and warriors, brilliant druids and courageous holy men, magic and miracle, and triumphant love. While Windsor’s irrepressible humor is present in both her contemporary and historical works, her teacher’s heart shines in making history come alive for the reader.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your writing and your publishing journey.
I never planned to be a writer, but I’ve always been an avid reader and a historical nut. So when historical fiction became big and historical romances even bigger, I was hooked. I wrote my first two historical romances in the mid 70’s and was one revision from being agented by one of NY’s finest, when I became a single working mom. Skip to 15 years later. My new husband discovered the old boxed romances while moving, read them and encouraged me to try again. He never doubted me through the next two years of rejections, which then turned to 18 years of being published. Eighteen! My how the years have flown. In 1999, my first inspirational romance came out and all my books since that date have been for inspirational publishers.
What is the greatest historical novel you read and why?
That is an impossible question. It’s like asking someone to pick a favorite child. In college, I loved required reading of Marquis James’ historical fiction/biographies. I read all the John Jakes historical series. Morgan Llewelyn’s Irish historicals make my blue eyes mist and my blood run emerald green. And Liz Curtis Higg’s Scottish series (A Thorn In My Heart and more) immerse me in the scent of heather, while visions of highland plaids dance in my head. I’m currently savoring The White Mare of The Dalraida Trilogy by Jules Watson, who has a background in archaeology. What a gift to the historical heart!
Did you have any experiences that prompted your love of fiction and particularly historical fiction?
I have been addicted to history for as long as I can remember. I recall reading an entire set of historical fiction biographies in elementary school. They led me into heavier stuff. Historical fiction brings the past to life for me and inspires me to do the same through involving stories. Surely I was a bard in another life! Oh, did I mention I sing ballads (songs that tell stories) and accompany myself with the guitar. My late hubby and I were professional singers and musicians, which means people actually paid to hear us.
How much time do you spend doing research for your stories? What balance would you say there is between research and actual writing?
It takes me a while to assemble the books I’m interested in. When first writing the Gleannmara books, early Irish history books were hard to find. Many came from Ireland and Britain, many from interlibrary loan. But aside from the time simply gathering the resources, I spent a good two weeks speed-reading, taking notes and formulating the blueprint of my story—a rough outline. Once the synopsis and first three chapters are done, I chill for a while--until the proposal sells. Then I surround myself with my notes and books to get back “in the humor.” From that point on, I refer to my books throughout the entire process of writing the manuscript. When I’m stuck, I look through them to get ideas for a scene to accomplish what I need to move the plot forward. And I’m always finding unique, little known facts that I simply have to work in for the edification and education of my reader. And the poor soul doesn’t even know he/she is being taught, history, as sneaky as I am.
Describe for us, if you will, your writing style as in plotter or do you create stories by the seat of your pants? Do you put more time into developing characters or plot? Or are they equal?
As I mentioned above, I do a synopsis where I have an idea of who my characters are, what their conflicts are and where they will be at the end of the story. I have also made notes of cool scenes/actual events that will advance my story. But how the characters and plot move from point A to point B comes by the seat of my pants.
I am, by nature, a plot-driven writer. It usually takes me about one-fourth of the book to figure out my characters’ secrets or for them to take over. I am working on better character development, initially, because discovering these things later instead of sooner, requires more re-writing and tweaking after the fact. Given my progress with character profiles, etc, I am going to stick out my neck and say that my next book will be an equal venture for both characters and plot, hopefully.
Was there a person who inspired you to write?
Come back tomorrow to find out the answer to this
and several more questions, as we continue our visit
with Linda Windsor. Please leave a comment for a
chance to win one of her historical novels, Maire,
or her latest contemporary novel, For Pete's Sake.
That's right, there will be drawings for two books this week!