Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with author Linda Ulleseit

Today we're going to get to learn a bit more about author Linda Ulliset.

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a wife and mother, a teacher and writer. In a few years I’ll retire from teaching and write full time. I can hardly wait! Right now I practice for retirement during summer vacations. I’m a morning person, so I still get up early, but it’s much more leisurely. I check email and Facebook, have breakfast and coffee, then I take the dogs for a walk, usually a mile or two. My two-year-old yellow Labradors love walks! After that I sometimes have errands to run or housecleaning to do. Then I can write without guilt.

Q ~ If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?

Remember those yellow Labradors from the first question? I’d be a dog. Not just any dog, but a dog in my family. Our dogs sleep on the couch, get lots of cookies, and don’t have to stay outside in bad weather. There’s no stress in a dog’s life—just play, eat, sleep. I love that simplicity. Of course, I couldn’t write if I was a dog, but then again I probably wouldn’t care.

Q ~ What’s one habit that you have that you’d like to break?

I have a horrible absent-minded habit of biting my cuticles. My fingers are always a mess, but I can’t seem to stop. I do it when I’m bored, when I’m reading, when I’m nervous. I’ve tried covering my fingers with Band-Aids, putting bad-tasting stuff on it, and having my husband yell at me when he sees me doing it. Still a struggle. Gotta keep working on this one.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?

My two favorite genres to read are historical fiction and fantasy. It should come as no surprised that those are my favorite to write, too. I also like to read romance, but would never consider writing it. My mind just doesn’t create in that genre.

Q ~ How did you begin writing professionally?

I’ve always written more than the teacher required. My students have to write well-developed narratives, so I decided to try and write a full novel with a coherent beginning, middle, and end. A lot of people are closet writers that never show their work to other people. If you want to publish, you should get lots of feedback first. The positive response thrilled me when I tentatively gave others my novel to read. The notion of actually publishing a novel grew slowly, encouraged by that positive feedback.

Q ~ Who are your biggest supporters in your writing?

My family—my husband and sons—support me greatly in not making demands of me when I’m writing. None of them have read any of my books, though they encourage me and say they’re proud of me. In the writing world, author Susan Stec is my biggest supporter. She’s read multiple versions of every book I’ve published and is honest when something isn’t working.

Q ~ Do you have any ‘writing rituals’ that you always follow?

First, I play Candy Crush…You may laugh, but it relaxes me and takes my mind off the real world. It’s an easy step then into my own world. When I’m involved in a chapter, I can sit down at the computer and dash off a line or two before I’m needed elsewhere—if I don’t have dedicated writing time. When I’m stuck, I avoid writing. That makes it really hard to get unstuck!

Q ~ When you write, do you try to reach a specific word count or simply write until you are done?

For daily writing, it’s about time. I write until I have to do something else. Most of my chapters are about 3,000 words. That is an arbitrary number I chose because it’s safely under the 5,000 word chapter limit on, the writing circle group I belong to online. It also seems long enough to have something happen, but short enough to keep interesting. Novel lengths are somewhat dictated by the industry. Young Adult novels are around 70,000 words, so I aim for that.

Q ~ You’ve written and published multiple works. Which is your favourite and what inspired you to write it?
Of my five completed novels, I am proudest of Under the Almond Trees. I like the cover and the way the interior looks, and the story is very dear to me. It features three women in my family: my grandmother, her grandmother, and my great-aunt. Of the three, I only knew my grandmother. She passed away before I was old enough to really discuss the events in the book with her. All three women’s motivation were a mystery to me when I started writing. I explored the times in which they lived and tried to imagine what they were really like. I love to believe I did.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite character in your novels? Is this individual based on someone in your life?
In my flying horse books, my favorite character is Davyd. He figures prominently in On a Wing and a Dare and appears in the other books, too. As the son of a barn owner, he is expected to ride a flying horse. Davyd, however, is afraid of heights. Except for that, Davyd is me. He is practical, connected to the earth, and loyal to those he loves. He isn’t arrogant and sometimes believes his best isn’t good enough.

Q ~ Do you have anything new in the works at the moment? Can you give us a hint what we might be looking forward to?
I’m about three chapters in to my new book, Aloha Spirit. I enjoyed writing about the women in my own family so much, I decided to write one about my husband’s family. This one will follow his grandmother from her birth in Kauai to her old age in California—not quite sure yet where I’ll end it. She was an amazing woman. Her mother died when she was a baby. Her father left her with a Hawaiian family and went to the mainland when she was young. When she was sixteen, she married, only to have three children and be on her own by twenty. Despite all that, she was welcoming and loving always—a true embodiment of what Hawaiians call the Aloha Spirit.

Q~ If you could give some advice to those who want to write professionally, what would it be?
Read deeply and broadly in whatever genre you want to write. Identify what authors you like do right and authors you loathe do wrong. Most importantly, keep writing. Novels don’t spring fully formed from an author’s head. They are the result of hard work and persistence. Don’t listen to the nagging self inside that tells you it’s not good enough. It’s yours. Learn how to make it better with writing groups and classes. Most importantly, write every day without fail.

Thanks for having me! I love answering blogger’s questions!

About the author:

Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California, and has taught elementary school in San Jose since 1996. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family. Her favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling stories and essays. Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students alongside hers in bookstores.

Her first novel, ON A WING AND A DARE, was published in 2012. It is a Young Adult fantasy set in medieval Wales, complete with flying horses, a love triangle, and treachery. It’s sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was released March, 2013. The focus of that book is the misty past of a groom and the murky future of a rider. The last book in the trilogy is UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, May 2014. It follows a brother and sister, new to High Meadow, who become involved in a plot to steal flying horses.

As a child, Linda always loved to write. She took her first creative writing course in seventh grade, accumulating a closet full of stories that she never showed anyone until 2007. At that time, she gave the first draft of a flying horse book to a teacher colleague to read. ON A WING AND A DARE began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2009. It was revised with the help of reviewers on over the next two years. For NaNo 2011, Linda drafted the sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER. NaNoWriMo 2012 brought the first draft of UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, and NaNoWriMo 2013 saw the completion of UNDER THE ALMOND TREES. This last is a historical fiction that follows three women who struggle for women’s rights in early California.

Linda has also written a novella titled WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON, released as an ebook in Fall 2013. It follows the story of Hoel and Neste, parents of a main character in ON A WING AND A DARE.

Find out more about Linda Ulliset at her website.

1 comment: