Hi Ms. Linda, thank you so much for granting me this interview. Happy to have you here at Cinderella Stories.
Linda: Thank you very much for hosting me!
- First of all, would you please tell us about your books: Perfectly Honest and Perfectly Reasonable? What led you to write these books and how long did you write these?
Perfectly Honest (Book 1) was actually the fourth novel I’d written, but the first I thought had a spark. It took nine months to write. There are two parts in Perfectly Honest that specifically evolved from my medical experience. The first is when Mikaela helps deliver a baby in the middle of a hotel foyer. I’ve jumped in to provide medical care at church, on a plane, on the soccer field, at a beach, in an exercise class…medicine is rarely nine to five! And I’ve had some pretty funny reactions from people when they’ve found out I’m a doctor. The second scene is when Mikaela’s specialty eclipses Sam’s. My husband is a specialist and his specialty often garners more interest than mine when we meet someone new. Except once. One day, in the midst of a family doctor shortage, we were at the bank and the two women helping us were so excited that I was a family doctor that my husband’s specialty never came up. I had to chuckle when he mentioned that he noticed and I thought it’d be great to put that in a story.
I wrote Perfectly Reasonable (Book 2) right after I finished Perfectly Honest. I knew I wanted a series with spin-off characters, but I didn’t really (at all) plan the series before I started writing it. Not far into it, I realized that Perfectly Reasonable would need to be a prequel – time-wise. But I really wanted to share some of my expertise about applying to medical school. I’ve spent over ten years teaching clinical skills to medical students and it’s been very interesting talking to them about what they thought they did to be successful in their application. It was also a fun way to incorporate some of the medical and ethical dilemmas that doctors face!
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Interestingly, I never thought I’d be a writer. When I was in university, a professor told me that I had no command of the English language (although I’ve taken A LOT of workshops so maybe he was right :D) But as a physician, I thought there was a need to disseminate basic medical information – like recognizing mental health symptoms, birth control myths, and basic preventative health care – in new and innovative ways. I had the idea to share the information in a romance novel, weaving it in the story and incorporating it into the activities I do on social media and through the book promotion. I hoped it would be a bit more appealing that the myriad of educational posters up in my office!
- Ms. Linda, you’re a doctor by day, what is your work schedule like when you’re writing? How does that work? Do you have a daily word count goal?
I’m balancing work and family with writing so having protected time to write is vital. I set aside two days a week to write (it used to be one). I won’t schedule any meetings, repairmen, or appointments on those two days. Actually, one of the things I love most about writing is being able to write at whatever pace I choose. As a kid, I always found it tough to come up with a story when the teacher asked because I had too many thoughts racing around in my head and needed time to mull it over. Luckily, now I have time to mull it over! I don’t get too wound up about writing a certain number of words a day, but lately I’ve tried to complete a novel within a season. It’s easier to keep the characters and storyline details in my head with a shorter timeline.
- What is your writing process, do you work on an outline first or just go write without one?
I start with an idea for the beginning, middle, and end of the story and then develop the characters. I try to get to know them very well, and I have to nail down their names. Male names are the hardest because I don’t want to use my sons’ names or the names of any of their friends. It has to be a completely new person in my head and not remind me of anyone (kind of like naming a child!). I’ve tried to make a detailed plot outline, but the characters often do something unexpected and it goes off the rails. Usually by the fifth chapter I can start to outline in more detail.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I wrote Perfectly Honest and I hadn’t realized how Canadian I was (with a British writing style) until I entered the manuscript into one of the RWA chapter contests in the United States. The main character, Mikaela, was tired at the end of a long day and agreed to do a favor for a friend, so she stopped on her way home for a double double. Two of the contest judges commented that they had no idea what that was. What?? Canadian babies’ first words are momma, dada and double double. How could you not know what that was? Haha. It’s a coffee – two creams, two sugars. Plus, Mikaela routinely went to the drive thru at Tim Horton’s (our most popular, one-on-every-corner, don’t drive anywhere until you’ve stopped there first, coffee and donut shop) to pick up the double double. One judge wrote, “Who is this Tim Horton? Need to develop his character.” I was going to write back that he’s a relative of Dunkin’!
Since then I’ve learned a few things about writing for an American audience!
- What do you think makes a good story?
For me, the best kind of story is one that makes me laugh. I’m usually reading to relax at the end of a day, and I much prefer a fun story with a happy-ever-after ending.
- Do you have other works in progress?
Book 3 in the Perfectly Series, Perfectly Planned, was just released on November 24th! I’m currently working on the second book in a holiday series.
- Your tips for aspiring authors?
The best advice I was given about writing was to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time – not only to write a book, edit and polish it, but to get it out there for the world to see and develop a loyal group of readers. If I had to pass on advice to an aspiring writer, young or old, I’d say, if you’re passionate about writing, stick with it. But be patient little grasshopper.
Thank you again, Ms. Linda, for gracing my blog. I had fun doing this and I loved reading your answers. 🙂 Good luck on your current work-in-progress and looking forward to reading your books. ❤
Linda has been writing romance novels for three years and sincerely thanks Debby Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing for the ultimate encouragement to her writing – with the leap to publishing. She has many titles including Doctor, Mom, and proud Canadian, but “Linda O’Connor – hereinafter called the Author” is one of the sweetest.
Contemporary romantic comedies are her favorite novels to read and write. Linda balances writing with her work as a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic and being a mom to three sons (luckily grown and capable of throwing together a decent meal, in a pinch). She also likes to keep active and cycle, cross-country ski, skate, walk with her husband or dance every day.
Laugh every day. Love every minute.
Author Website: http://www.lindaoconnor.net
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LindaOConnorAuthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-OConnor/e/B00S7CNLEA
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