Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Interview with Linda Kupecek


Linda, give us the backstory on how you became an author and then us what genre/s you write?

 I began my career as a performer (BFA in Drama) then gradually moved into entertainment writing (I was an international correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter for many years) then magazine feature writing. I had won a few screenwriting competitions along the way and was always taking courses to upgrade my skills, and, finally, started getting development money for scripts. Then, out of the blue, an offer to write a non-fiction book landed in my lap. I had never written an entire book before. It was research intensive, with a tight deadline, and I literally stayed up til 4 or 5 in the morning every night for three months, researching archives, museums, obscure books
and documents. It was worth it. Rebel Women: Achievements Beyond the Ordinary has done well, and I am now at work on my fifth book. 
Rebel Women was history/biography. The Rebel Cook: Entertaining Advice for the Clueless was self/help/entertaining/humour. (It has a rubber chicken on the cover.) Fiction and Folly for the Festive Season was a collection of short stories paired with illustrations by B. Ian Bazley. Deadly Dues, my debut mystery, is the first book in the Lulu Malone mystery series. Holy Moly, I guess I'm an author!!!


Does your writing day end with a certain page count or word count and what is a typical writing day ?

Oh, it would be wonderful to commit to a certain number of pages a day and do it, and some day, I will start doing that. I keep promising myself that. (Maybe with fingers crossed behind back.)  Instead, I tend to write in spurts, often staying up til 4 in the morning in a marathon session if things are going well. Then, all puffed up and full of virtue, and maybe exhausted, I might take a break for a day or two, then get back to it. That is for fiction. If I am writing non-fiction, I basically sit at the computer and suffer through all the reference material, telling myself, "Whatever It Takes," which is what a tough as nails production manager I knew used to say when pushed to the limit on film sets. So I have no typical writing day, except for some basics. With my morning coffee (I am not good for anything until my second cup, and I drink from a mug with one of my book covers printed on it, very good for incentive) I go through my zillion emails, trying to use the delete key as lavishly as possible. Then take care of other business, and family commitments, and any writing that can be done very quickly. I don't start my creative work til the evening.


What are you currently writing and how long does it take you to write a book?

Oh, it would be wonderful to commit to a certain number of pages a day and do it, and some day, I will start doing that. I keep promising myself that. (Maybe with fingers crossed behind back.)  Instead, I tend to write in spurts, often staying up til 4 in the morning in a marathon session if things are going well. Then, all puffed up and full of virtue, and maybe exhausted, I might take a break for a day or two, then get back to it. That is for fiction. If I am writing non-fiction, I basically sit at the computer and suffer through all the reference material, telling myself, "Whatever It Takes," which is what a tough as nails production manager I knew used to say when pushed to the limit on film sets. So I have no typical writing day, except for some basics. With my morning coffee (I am not good for anything until my second cup, and I drink from a mug with one of my book covers printed on it, very good for incentive) I go through my zillion emails, trying to use the delete key as lavishly as possible. Then take care of other business, and family commitments, and any writing that can be done very quickly. I don't start my creative work til the evening.


Let's talk about research, characters, setting and how you keep track of everything that goes into a book?

At first, I just wing it in Julia Cameron/Natalie Goldberg style. When I was about a third of the way, or maybe halfway through Deadly Dues, I realized I needed to keep track, so I used a huge white storyboard. That really helped. It also helps to have a great editor, like Frances Thorsen of Chronicles of Crime bookstore, who was assigned to me by my publisher, TouchWood Editions. For Trashing the Trailer, I have created a mini-story board of the so-called acts and days and have it on a music stand by my computer. Once the book is almost there, I will set up a large white story board and track the days and the characters on that. (And these things take up a beastly bit of space. Just forget about any civilized dinner parties, if you have a big story board plunked in the middle of the dining room table.)


If you were going to mentor another writer what advice would you give them on writing a book?

Keep writing. Read The Artist's Way or Writing Down the Bones to free your creative spirit. Keep reading books in the genre you want to explore. Have fun.

How many times do you rewrite your books?

I never have done a full rewrite of a book. The editing of Deadly Dues was a detailed experience, getting everything sorted out with Frances' input. Other than that, the editorial tinkering on my other books has not been onerous. I had a great editor, Lori Burwash, on Rebel Cook. I love it when editors laugh at my jokes.


Let's have a fun question; What is your favorite dessert, charity, a couple of your favorite comfort reads and a few of your favorite movies?

 I have given up on desserts. Just give me smoked salmon on a bagel with a glass of chilled chardonnay, and I am happy. My favourite charity is the Actors Fund of Canada. (Someday I will be an old actor, staggering about, trying to remember lines from long ago shows .... wait a minute, maybe that's me now!) My comfort reads are mysteries, natch. Sometimes I even re-read ones I have particularly enjoyed, from authors like Elizabeth Peters, Dorothy Gilman and K.K. Beck.  I have a lot of favourite movies, according to my mood: The Party (for when I want to laugh hysterically) Enchanted April, Days of Heaven.


When you're not writing books how do you spend your time?

I have family commitments.  However, that doesn't stop me from shopping for shoes, and pursuing my collecting addiction. I am a collector of vintage costume jewellery and antique buttons, among many other things, and the clutter in my house is testimony to this. I love having friends over for dinner, as long there isn't a storyboard on the dining table.


Do you believe in writer's block?

I am more a believer in writer's eating and writer's cleaning. This is when you keep looking in the refrigerator before finally getting to the computer, and when you wash several piles of dishes (even ones that didn't need it) and clean the tub before walking into your office. However, once I get past that (and I tell myself I am Thinking Deeply about my work as I do it) I am rarely blocked. I just keep going. Whatever It Takes.


Tell us about your book cover?

I love my book cover. Here it is. It shows up on my screen as yellowish, but in reality, it is a lovely rich green background.

In closing leave us with a quote from you or your character.

 "How could anybody look at me and think murder? I am adorable." Lulu Malone of the famed dimples.

1 comment:

  1. Linda,
    Your interview made me laugh and brightened my day. I can't wait to read Deadly Dues keep writing and I will keep reading your mysteries.

    Pamela

    ReplyDelete

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