Thursday, August 20, 2015

An Interview with LynDee Walker

Interview With LYNDEE WALKER:
By Pamela James

MM2:LynDee, tell me the backstory on how and when you became an author?

LW: Oh, goodness—such a long story! Here’s the short
version: I was a stay-at-home mom with two young children when I started writing fiction, and three young children when I got my first book deal. Before the littles came along, I was a reporter, and I think the books grew from missing writing
and missing the newsroom, but not wanting to go back to the long hours away from my family. I wrote the rough draft of Front Page Fatality for fun, just for myself. The handful of people who read it encouraged me to try to get it published. Six years later, the fifth book in the series is due out in a few months.


MM2: Tell us about your books?

LW: My heroine is a crime reporter with a weakness for great shoes who gets herself in trouble poking around sticky stories. Nichelle is a little nosy (a hallmark of all good journalists), and she’s ambitious, but it’s her sense of justice and desire to help people that drives her to dig for the truth when the story doesn’t quite add up. She has a handful of close friends, a couple of sexy guys, and a cute dog to keep her busy outside the office. My books often get shelved as cozies because of the humor, but they have a more serious, more realistic tone than some cozies. 

MM2: Take me thru your writing day?

LW: I have three young children (my youngest is still in preschool), so it’s generally every word for itself. During the school year, I like to write in the morning after all the littles are at school, but in the summer, my favorite place to work is by the pool. When I’m working on a new draft, I aim for at least 1,000 words a day, and I often go back and tinker with earlier parts of the story before the rough is finished.

MM2: Growing up did you have a favorite teacher or someone who encouraged you to read, write stories or gave you the self confidence to know you could do it?

LW: I was lucky to have several. I’d always loved to read, and I had ambitions of being Lois Lane when I grew up, but I never thought much about writing outside that “someday” context until the winter of fifth grade, when Carol Mendez urged me to enter a citywide essay contest. I won first place and they gave me a trophy, which was cool, but more than that, it hooked me on writing. 


In junior high, Cynthia Scott said wonderful sweet things about “talent” as she encouraged me to try different types of writing, but journalism was still my first love. Then in high school, Sue Voegele took a paper I wrote for her health class to the journalism teacher, who invited me to join the newspaper staff. The following year, Lynnda Roselle took over as adviser, and she spent the next two years encouraging me to pursue a journalism degree. I did, and was blessed with some wonderful college professors (Richard Wells, Keith Shelton, and Jacque Lambiase) who pushed me to dig deeper and write stronger. Amazing teachers are a wonderful gift—and I’m thankful for every one of mine.

MM2: What would your characters tell us about you?

LW: Nichelle would say her dog bears a striking resemblance to mine, and she’d giggle if she saw me try to walk in stilettos. Parker would say I worry too much, Eunice would tell you she wants my salsa recipe, and Bob would say I should go back to the newsroom.

MM2: I love your first name. Is there a family story or connection that comes with it?

LW: Thank you! And of course! It has two parts: the first is that it was a thing in my family for generations to do split names with capital letters in the middle and funky spellings (my grandmother’s name was DaLoryse, for instance). My mom spent her whole pregnancy determined to buck this trend: I was supposed to be named Tiffany. Until she went into labor, and the movie she was watching on TV had a heroine named Lindy. She wrote a list of all the different ways you could possibly spell it, and loved to tell me that if she hadn’t been in labor for 36 hours, she wouldn’t have had time to get to the one she chose. When I was a kid, I got annoyed that no one ever had anything with my name pre-printed on it. Now, I love it. 

MM2: What comes first the plot, characters or setting?

LW: For me, they all kind of came at once. The very first time Nichelle popped into my head, she was locked in a car trunk in Shockoe Bottom. I never questioned the setting or the trouble she was in—I just went with it. That scene actually survived all the revisions, and can still be found in Front Page Fatality.

MM2: Tell us about your latest book?

LW: Devil in the Deadline was built around a question: How do you catch a murderer when you can’t identify the victim? It was a lot of fun to see how that played out in the story while I was writing—Nichelle manages to help a lot of people, and we get to explore the darker side of religion-as-business.

MM2: What are you future writing plans and goals?

LW: My goal is always to write a better book each time. Getting better, digging deeper, pushing harder to give the readers a better product is always what I set out to do when I open a blank file.

MM2: What would you like to say to your readers?

LW: I love and appreciate each one of you, and getting to meet you is my favorite thing about being an author. I have a pretty full events calendar, so come out to the next conference, festival, or signing and say hello! 

MM2: What advice do you have for writers and authors who want to make a career of writing mysteries and other genres?

LW: Oh gosh—I feel like I’m still learning. But I’ll pass on the best advice I’ve gotten, which came from one of my favorite authors (who is a SUPER nice guy): Write a better book next time. Don’t worry about the numbers or sales or reviews: just write, and improve, and everything else will take care of itself.

MM2: Let's talk about writing groups, bloggers and website. Do you belong to any writing groups? Do you belong to a blog and do you read other author's blogs?

LW: I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America James River Writers, and Sisters in Crime: being around other writers is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your writing. Put ten creative people in a room, and you’ll leave with 100 ideas. 

I do read other authors’ blogs, and I’ve been fortunate to be asked to guest on many wonderful blogs, but I don’t think I have anything interesting enough to say on a regular basis to do one of my own. 

MM2: Now for some fun and easy questions: What is your favorite meal, movie, television show, song and place to vacation?

LW: Fun! 
Meal: Enchiladas and empanadas. I love good Mexican food!
Movie: Hmmmm. It really depends on the season and my mood. But a few I never get tired of watching are The Sandlot, The Rookie, and Mrs. Winterbourne. 
TV Show: I don’t have time to watch much TV, but currently, I love Bones and Under the Dome. Of all time? Tie between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls.

MM2: Lastly, what life lesson has writing taught you? 

LW: I bet this sounds super cliche, but: perseverance always wins. This business is definitely not for folks who give up easily. 

MM2: Is there an author or book that inspired you?

LW: Too many to count. I’m going to stop after I name the first four who come to mind, but it’s by no means the whole list. Book people are wonderful people. 
My favorite reporters-turned-crime-fiction-writers, Hank Phillipi Ryan and Edna Buchanan. 
The ever-brilliant Julia Spencer-Fleming (read the first line of In the Bleak Midwinter and tell me it’s not immediately among your favorites ever. Amazing).
The hilarious and wonderful Laura Levine.

MM2: In closing tell us why you like living where you live?

LW: Richmond is an amazing city, with pretty much everything you could possibly want to do, plus easy access to DC, the beach, and the mountains. And my littles go to some of the best public schools in the country. We adore central Virginia.

LynDee, thank you for the interview. 


Thank you so much for having me! It’s been fun! 

19 comments:

  1. Love what you said about teachers, LynDee.So many of them wiill never know just how influential they were.

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  2. Thanks, Cindy! I love that Pam and Terri gave me a chance to publicly thank these folks for everything they did for me. :)

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  3. Such a fun interview! Thanks for sharing.... And Buffy and the Gilmore Girls—such different series, but I adored both of them! (My wife hasn't seen either, I don't think. Need to go back and watch them again with her.) Fun stuff here!
    Art

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  4. Thanks, Art! Those two shows had some of the best dialogue in the history of television, I think. I've been re-watching them with my oldest daughter. She's gotten really into those two (and The West Wing—I love Aaron Sorkin's writing!). I adore Netflix for allowing me to easily share shows I love with other folks.

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  5. Speaking of Aaron Sorkin - did you watch The Newroom? I loved that show too!

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  6. Terri, I've been dying to—we just added it to our Amazon list, and I'm waiting for a long, rainy weekend so I can binge-watch it!

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  7. Fun interview, LynDee! Can't wait for Devil in the Deadline!

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  8. BTW LynDee -- we had a great interview with Laura Levine here on July 27th if you want to check the archive!

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    1. I read it (and shared it!) that day—I just adore Laura, and that was a fabulous interview. She's been one of my favorite authors for a long time, and it's been wonderful to get to call her a friend for the past couple of years. :)

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  9. Great interview! I still remember a middle school teacher who encouraged my writing. I have searched for her to thank her, but no luck yet.

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  10. Susan, isn't it amazing, the impact teachers have that they often don't ever know about? My littles have been so lucky to have some wonderful teachers, too, and I try to remind them to go back and visit their teachers from past years and tell them how much they learned.

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  11. LynDee,
    I am late to the party today but wanted to say THANK YOU for the writing advice. At one point Carolyn Hart was a reporter turned mystery author. Must be something about being a reporter, staying home with children and then focus on fiction and mystery.
    Teachers have so much influence on our lives. It's great how you took us thru all of the help you received one teacher at a time.

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    1. Pamela, thank you so much for having me! This was such a fun interview, and you have a bit of reporter in you—the questions were great!

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  12. What a great interview, and how gracious of you to acknowledge the teachers who encouraged you along the way. They must be very proud of your accomplishments!

    I love the name DaLoryse!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Ramona! I'm very blessed to call many of those wonderful teachers friends today, and was so happy Pamela gave me the perfect platform for thanking them!

      Someday I'll name a character after my grandmother. She was a neat lady, and a damned fine cook. :)

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    2. I'm really late but loved the interview. I loved "put ten creative people in a room and you'll have 100 new ideas." No wonder we love getting together at mystery conventions. And I like your goal of making each book better than the last; I'm taking it to heart.

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  13. Fun interview! Love the teachers who inspired you.

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  14. I'm late to the party, but love this interview. And, LynDee, I love the story about how your name came to be!

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