|Linda Carroll-Bradd, Author|
Monday, February 29, 2016
INTERVIEW WITH LINDA CARROLL-BRADD, AUTHOR OF LACED BY LOVE #MontanaSkyKW
Readers, my guest today is Linda Carroll-Bradd. I’ve only recently met her through our participation in a joint project. She’s a talented writer and lovely person. She’s agreed to let me interview her about her latest release, LACED BY LOVE.
Share anything that lets readers get to know the real you.
I grew up in a northern California moderate-sized city, the middle of three sisters. Any other middles out there? I was so introverted that some of my parents’ friends thought they only had two daughters. I loved to read, to disappear into the world created in the pages of a book. I can remember making my younger sister get on the wagon train I created from the picnic table and a couple of saw horses after reading Little House On The Prairie.
After a life-changing event following eighth grade graduation (doctor said I didn’t have to wear my glasses fulltime), I decided to be more outgoing and in high school, I burst into the social scene. Plus I adopted lots of feminist ideals in college. Nobody has been able to keep me from expressing my opinions since.
Trekking along with my husband’s job jaunts has given me the chance to live three years in central Oregon and twelve years in Texas. We’ve now returned to southern California near 3 of our 4 adult children, and enjoy living in the San Bernardino National Forest while he works for a camp and conference center. Our 4th child lives in the northern part of California along with her husband and two daughters. Our small cabin is shared with two beloved dogs, Keiko and Phoenix.
I imagine you live in a beautiful setting. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?
Living in a forest at 6,800 feet gives me a view of all four seasons. (still have a couple of inches of snow in our back yard from a late January storm) Just going onto the deck or taking the dogs for a walk can recharge me. I’m still a lover of reading and can get reenergized by reading a great story.
How long have you been writing?
23 years. On a landmark birthday, I gifted myself with a one-day class in writing romance. And I was hooked. Because I was working fulltime, I stole moments here and there to write and the story developed at a snail’s pace. Twelve years later, I made a sale. My first published story was in a confession magazine. The best thing that I learned in that course was about Romance Writers of America, and I hooked up with a local chapter that introduced me to critique groups.
Why did you choose to participate in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Series Kindle World?
Debra’s Montana Sky series includes the world where many of my other stories are set-western United States from 1860-1890. I have been involved with Debra’s stories behind the scenes as an editor since 2012 and have come to really love the setting and the characters. I wanted to create people to visit that established setting and interact with the characters she’s created.
Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude?
Most of my writing is done on a PC in an upstairs niche in our small cabin that serves as my work space. I often have music playing in the background and it varies from sing-along music for narrative to instrumentals for the dialogue scenes. I’ve discovered if I’m on deadline, I can write almost anywhere on my laptop.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I started out years ago being such a plotter than I needed to know the color of the heroine’s apartment walls before I wrote a single word of the manuscript. Over the years I’ve tried several methods of plotting with varying degrees of success. I gave a presentation once to an RWA chapter describing my attempts and pointing out which manuscripts (finished and not) those methods had produced. Now my method has evolved into a combination of the two. I need to know certain details about the characters (family members, upbringing, personality type (based on archetype), biggest fear, best skill), how the setting impacts the story, and how I envision the ending. What I’ve discovered is I can trust my storytelling sense to bring the characters together at the end with a heartwarming conclusion.
What research did this project involve?
Because of the remote location of Morgan’s Crossing, I figured if people weren’t miners then they must have stumbled onto this town on their way somewhere else. I like finding different professions and the idea of a traveling vaudeville troupe was intriguing. My heroine, Cinnia, performed dramatic interpretations of poems. So I studied what poetry available to her in 1886 was still recognizable today. Each poetic rendition required a different costume, so I also gave her dressmaker skills. (cue research into sewing machines and dress forms)
Originally, I intended the hero, Nic, to be a miner who’d been injured and now worked at a mostly sedentary profession like saddlery. When I started researching tanning methods from that time period, I discovered that Russian leather had been considered the best quality in the late 1700s. (Who knew that?) So much so that spies were sent to Russia to discover the secret formula. That changed the hero’s background, and he became one of three brothers living in hiding spread throughout the West until their father receives a patent on the tanning method.
Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?
Before I was published, I was much better about word count goals. Now my deadlines set my work schedule. I do more research than needed, but I’ve discovered this method often leads to wonderful little ethnic customs or foods that round out a story well. Although I may not write actual new pages every day, I’m always researching or plotting or revising pages.
Do you write full time or do you have a day job. If you have a day job, what is it?
I call myself a fulltime writer, but my day job is as a freelance editor. So I juggle writing time with editing time, depending on which deadline is pressing the hardest.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.
When I was starting my family, I lived in a city that was the west coast center for home births. All three of my children were born at home and in a bed within an antique bedframe from the late 1880s.
What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?
That bundles of tanned Russian hides from a 1786 shipwreck of the Metta Catharina were discovered in the English Channel in 1973. They’d been encrusted with mud so that when the bundles were opened, the hides gave off the special, unique odor associated with the technique. (The actual formula was lost when the factories were destroyed in the Russian Revolution of 1917.)
How sad that the formula was lost. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
I hope my readers get a sense that making the intimate connection of a relationship might be a struggle but the effort is worthwhile. I also want them to end the story satisfied my “people” have achieved their happy ending.
What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Since I started writing, I have always participated in a critique group—either in person or online. Early on, this is how I learned story structure. Now, my participation is the way I get feedback on if the characters ring true or the situations are believable.
Tell us about your Kindle World novel with a blurb and an excerpt.
LACED BY LOVE Blurb:
Seamstress Cinnia York wants more than performing with a traveling vaudeville troupe—she wants to put down roots. The day after the troupe arrives in tiny Morgan’s Crossing, the manager takes all the money and leaves town. By opening a dressmaker shop, Cinnia hopes to make the home she’s always wanted, but Nola, the older sister who has made the decisions for the orphaned sisters, disagrees.
Leather worker Nicolai Andrusha is living in hiding as Nic Andrews until the patent on his family’s tanning process is approved. Although he’s under a mandate to keep a low profile, he’s intrigued by the red-haired performer. Controversy arises when miners claim they paid the manager for private appointments with the female performers. Will Nicolai defy his family obligation to help the stranded beauty who has caught his eye?
LACED BY LOVE Excerpt:
The empty space looked out onto a gentle incline down to a bend in the river. A variety of trees lined the moving water, and dried grasses waved along the ground.
“Park facing outward between the saloon here and those shops down there.” He pointed toward the fork in the road. “Flynn, the equipment wagon goes closest to the saloon. There’s a slope on the back side so don’t forget to set the blocks on the wheels.”
“Really?” Nola scoffed. “Doesn’t he realize we’ve done this enough times and in all types of terrain to know the routine?” She shook her head as she angled the wagon to the uphill side of the road.
Dorrie and Cinnia hopped to the ground to perform their roles as parking guides. They walked near the front wheel and shouted instructions as Nola cajoled the horses to back the showman’s wagon into position. Each driver repeated the action, making sure to allow walking space between the wagon wheels. Soon, the six wagons stood in a straight line, tongues facing the street. This time, their lavender wagon was positioned next to Mr. Thomas’s, who had parked close to a building that looked like a newly constructed shop of some type.
Within minutes, the area was a beehive of activity. Sturdy rope lines strung between the trees and square wooden posts the men hammered into the ground created a temporary corral. The horses were unharnessed and let loose into the grass-covered space.
With a long-legged stride, Nola walked Captain and Skipper down to the river to let them drink their fill after the day-long journey. Other drivers followed her path with their horses. Whistled notes of an unknown tune floated on the late afternoon air.
Arney, the juggler, joined them, rolling a wheelbarrow for collecting rocks to create the fire pit for cooking. Others opened windows to air out the wagons or set out folding stools for evening use.
Dorrie and Cinnia unclamped a roll of wire netting and poles from the underside of the wagon. Working together like they had many times in the past, they set the poles and then wrapped the netting around the outside. Simple cord ties secured the netting to the uprights, and when they finished, a rectangular pen for the dogs stood only a few feet away from the wagon’s filigreed metal steps.
Gigi and Queenie rolled in the grass and chased each other, happy for the freedom after being cooped up in the wagon or restrained by leashes for hours.
Tasks that were everyday and routine to the troupe seemed to be of interest to the townspeople. As Cinnia set out their three folding stools, she heard whispers from the front of the wagon. When she leaned over and looked underneath, she saw five or six sets of small-sized feet. Good. Children were often the best ambassadors of advertisement for the shows, because they pestered their parents to attend. Families always had an enjoyable time because of the variety of the acts—an entertainment for everyone.
What she hadn’t expected was the tall blond-haired man who leaned against a clapboard building just past Mr. Thomas’ wagon. Dressed in a buff-colored shirt and denim trousers held up with suspenders, he looked like a shopkeeper, rather than a miner. But, even from twenty feet away, she could feel the intensity of his gaze as he watched her movements. Different from the leers she often had to endure, she sensed this man’s scrutiny was more curious, like he wasn’t sure what he observed.
The long day of travel undoubtedly had taken a toll on her appearance. Being in the direct sunlight had probably increased the number of freckles dotting her cheeks. Encountering a steady breeze while traveling on the prairie was a given. She slipped a hand up her neck to check for any stray hairs coming loose from her bun. Maybe not too much fixing would be needed to make herself more presentable.
“Who are you primping for?” Nola nudged her with an elbow as she passed.
Cinnia stumbled off-balance then clamped her jaw tight. Leave it to her older sister to be obvious and obnoxious. She picked up a stool to relocate it, taking a peek over her shoulder, only to spy the bare plank wall of the building. Her shoulders slumped.
Her mystery man had disappeared.
How can readers learn more about you and your other books?