Saturday, April 19, 2008

Canada Calling: Linda Hall

Linda Hall is an award-winning Canadian author of fifteen novels and a number of short stories. She has received the Word Guild Award five times, has been short listed for a Daphne Award and a Christy Award. She loves writing crime fiction.

She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, Romance Writers of America, and the Word Guild. She is currently writing romantic suspense for Steeple Hill/Love Inspired and the first book in her Shadows trilogy, Shadows in the MIrror has received excellent reviews. The next book in the series, Shadows at the Window will be out in October. All three of the shadows books deals with women having to overcome the shadows in their past before they can move on in the present and find love. And of course there is a mystery involved!

She and her husband have two grown children and three wonderful grandchildren.

Many of your books deal with quests: finding missing persons, uncovering old secrets, and revisiting difficult childhood memories. What is it about "searching" that appeals to you?

I write the sorts of things I love to read. I love old gothic settings and exploring the hidden mysteries of things. I guess I'm a pirate at heart- wanting to uncover hidden treasures. And since I don't get to do it in real life I can do it in the books I write.

The covers on your Robert Shepherd mysteries are in keeping with the stereotypical Royal Canadian Mounted Police image of a tough, squared-jaw hero that Arnold Friberg and Hal Foster painted for so many years. As a writer who also has a "Mountie" series tucked away in a drawer, I'd love to know if those cover choices were yours, and if so, what do people find so compelling about that image?

LOL! Now you know that an author doesn't get to choose her own covers! I used to cringe whenever I saw a new Mountie cover. On all three occasions I didn't see the cover until the book was actually printed. I would have drawn in something completely different. I guess I'm not fond of pictures of people on covers much anyway.

You're obviously a believer in what River Rat said to Mole in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, "There's nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." Tell us about Gypsey Rover II and being a Senior Navigator.

I grew up in New Jersey and that's where my love of the water was born. I could sit in front of the ocean and stare at it for hours. It's very calming. I've also always been fascinated with boats—any kind of boats. I would see them out on the water and wonder what the people inside of them were doing. I love pirate ships and old square riggers. I'm quite intrigued by people going on long camping kayaking trips. And normally, not a sports fan—I actually yawn at hockey games—I LOVE watching the America's Cup, and am usually on the edge of my seat as I watch those humongous and sleek vessels roll out their massive sails as they round the markers. I'm absolutely appalled that our TV networks don't cover Sailing in their coverage of the Olympics.

With that fascination, it should come as no surprise that I would want to set most—or all—of my books on or near the water.

The boats I grew up with were power and water ski boats. I ended up marrying a Canadian who loved the water as much as I do, and when we moved to the east coast fifteen years ago one of the first purchases we made was a 22 foot sailboat. After four years we sold that and bought our present 28 foot Tanzer sailboat, Gypsy Rover II. When we moved here we wanted to learn as much as we could about boating and safety so we took the Boating course offered by CPS Well, that drew us into the organization and we ended up taking every course they offer. And the courses get increasingly difficult. In our area there are only three women who have taken all the required courses to become a Senior Navigator. So, do I sound like I'm blowing my horn? Maybe a little bit I am. The final course, Celestial Navigation took my husband and I a winter to complete and it sort of consumed our lives. I was practicing sightings with the sextant in my sleep toward the end. I'm glad it's over and I'm glad I'm finished! I don't think I've ever taking a university course that difficult.

Our sailboat is basically our summer cottage. But it's better than a summer cottage because we don't have to mow the lawn and if we don't like our neighbors simply move.

Recently - and this is the first time I've mentioned this in public - I got a small tattoo of a dolphin on my foot. :)

That naturally leads us to water in all forms. Water, fog, ice, fishermen, and whale watchers, show up in your titles, on your covers, and in your characters. Why is water so mysterious, and what do water images lend to both mysteries and romances?

I think it's because the ocean is so vast, so powerful. When you sit at its edge you realize how small and vulnerable you really are. There is something about water that draws most people, I think. I give journaling workshops and in one of the sessions I have the participants close their eyes and in their minds go to that place that nurtures them. After four or five minutes I have them share about that 'place'. Most thought about sitting near creeks or waterfalls or lakes or the ocean. Usually, it's water in one form or another. But, I have no idea why!

Your characters are Christian and many of your books deal with churches and ministers. What are some of the pros and cons in writing Christian-themed books? Does having Christian themes make books harder or easier to sell in overall book markets?

I am a Christian, grew up in the Christian culture and community and therefore I 'write what I know.' Every writer brings with her the things that have shaped her, and I guess I do the same. I don't 'set out' to write a Christian book or a Christian-themed book. I just write books of my heart and they end up being the kind that get published. As for what sells and what doesn't sell and if one is easier to see or the other - I really have no clue. I'm serious here. The market is so fickle. What's 'in' one week, may be 'out' the next. My advice is to write what you want to write - write what is in your heart.

To learn more about Linda and her books, visit her web site


Sofie Kelly said...

Welcome Linda. I'm curious about what draws you to the mystery genre. Is it the battle between good and evil?

Linda Hall said...

I'm not sure that it's the battle between good and evil that draws me to the mystery genre, I think for me it's figuring out the puzzle. Also, it's the getting to know the characters and how they respond.

Anonymous said...

Arnold Friberg made all his male characters look super manly!!!