First question Linda; where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania called Conneautville. The good thing about the town was it was a small community where people generally got along well, and there was plenty of nature to escape into which I often did if my nose wasn't buried in a book. It was nice in that it was pretty timeless. Hours didn't seem to go by as quickly as they do now that I'm in the city (or perhaps because I'm older now), but every time I go back home nothing seems to have changed. It's still the same old comfortable place that it's always been. The only downside was that there wasn't much to do as the only thing in town is a grocery and hardware store, in addition to places to eat, churches, a bar, and a daycare centre. There used to be a bowling alley and an opera house but they were taken out years ago. I wish they would have left them in, as it may have provided some entertainment for us. Also, town gossip... that's irritating. Teaches you stuff about yourself that you didn't even know before.
Were there things growing up that still influences your writing now?
Yes. I was bullied pretty heavily growing up, and I do think that works it's way into my writing now and again. It definitely shaped me into the strong person that I am today. Because I learned early on that life wasn't fair and sometimes you have to be your own hero. Because often we must save ourselves. Everyone's too busy trying to save themselves to notice your struggle.
Can you remember writing down your first structured words at school?
The first story I remember writing for school was a short story about a guardian angel who went down to Earth to save a girl from death, I believe? It's been a very long time, but I remember there were angels as I did the artistry in that as well, which was probably laughable, as I'm not very good at drawing.
Did you have a love of words back then?
A love of words, whether it be music or the written form. I used to merely be a spectator mostly, just reading anything I could get my hands on. Now I write more and it frees me and drives me to press on. I didn't choose writing, in the end, it chose me.
Did you go to University?
I went to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and I have a degree in English Literature. I hated high school, but college was a different experience entirely. I met some people that felt more like family than friends especially when I made the decision my senior year of college to get involved with theatre and starred in a production of Bang Bang, You're Dead. I really loved acting, and I may return to it again sometime. I really loved being able to slip behind a mask and be someone else for a time.
Is writing your full-time job?
I wish it were, but alas it is not. I work as a fast food cook at a convenience store/gas station. It's just very draining being around this sort of place day in and day out. I am an introvert so I need time away from people to recharge. Some customers are nice, but there's a lot of rude ones, too.
Tell me about your very first writing engagement.
I remember the first time I ever had to read one of my short stories aloud was in our English class when we had to write a short story using some sort of literary device (I was thirteen so it's been a while, and I cannot remember what we were doing), and I remember my peers loved my story. That is what really made me feel confident in my words that so many of my classmates loved my poetry and my stories.
Tell me about the projects you are working on at the moment.
I'm always working on poetry and usually a novel at the same time. I am always hungry for venues to write for as I write from the time I wake up to the time I have to work, and the days I have off I generally spend as much time as I can writing.
What really inspires your writing?
I am inspired by anything and everything: other writers, musicians, art, photographs, nature, my personal experiences, experiences of others, poems that I liked, folklore and mythology, etc. I really do find inspiration in some of the weirdest places, too. Some of my best ideas hit me while I'm walking to work, or in the shower or just about to go to sleep. If I'm awake enough, I force myself up to write down the words so they don't slip away.
What is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration into actual words on paper?
A turn of the phrase that I particularly like forms in my mind and then my fingers fly across the keyboard, or the notebook, until the poem, idea, short story, or novel is finished.
Do you have a particular writing location?
Not really. I write mostly in my apartment, but I can write anywhere: at my parents house, at the house of a friend, on the beach, at the park, etc.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to publish more poetry, books of poetry, short stories, essays, reviews, novels, etc. As much work as I can put out into the world - that is what I'll try to do because I write to live and live to write.
Name your THREE most favourite books and why.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - The third book in Rowling's series is definitely my favourite. Here we meet Sirius Black who is Harry Potter's godfather and we eventually find out that he's not as he first appears. We almost meet Remus Lupin who is one of my favourite werewolves ever and one of my favourite characters in the series. I think one of the reasons Remus is so loveable is because he always strives to do the right thing and doesn't use his Werewolfism as a means to bully others as his foil character Greyback does. He doesn't want to hurt people and generally isn't a coward which one could expect since he was a Gryffindor. I just love the idea of chocolate being able to heal people from Dementor attacks, too, and also the concept of the Patronus is super cool. If I had a patronus, mine would be my spirit animal of the raven. The idea of a raven driving off dementors amuses me more than it probably should.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini is one of my favourite novels because I love the dragon Saphira and the protagonist Eragon. The first book in the series is my favourite because it introduces us to this lovely world and the beginning of the struggle for our young hero. It is imaginative, fun, and some parts really get your heart racing in anticipation of what will happen next with all the twists and turns that I love in stories and write into my own.
Pegasus by Robin McKinley is a favourite because she creates a very interesting realm. Not to mention a female protagonist that I actually like (it's very hard to impress me with female characters because they generally are either impossibly strong with too few flaws or too weak with too few strengths) that is balanced and relatable. Also because I love the idea of having one's own Pegasus. I'm not sure where mine and I would go, but I know we'd leave this city far behind us and never return.
Lastly... what does writing MEAN to you?
It is a means of expressing myself without being interrupted. A way of sharing ideas, thoughts, and experiences with others in a meaningful way that I hope heals, teaches, and inspires others to think outside the box and be their true and authentic selves. I hope to create characters that they love as my favourite authors have done for me. I want to heal the world with my words.