Q&A: Linda Kepner

There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state. As the Director of the NH Center for the Book I get the opportunity to talk to many of them. I thought it would be fun to start an interview series here on Book Notes to share that experience a bit with my blog readers. This is the first installment in what I hope will be a regular series of Q&As with New Hampshire authors.

If someone hasn't read your work yet, where should they start?

Linda Kepner
My books are all stand-alone books, in different genres, so what you read depends on your interests.  My first book was Play the Game, a science-fiction adventure.  My second was The Whisperwood Ordinaire, a fantasy-magic adventure.  My third book is Second Chance, a (slightly historical) romance.  My fourth book, Second Chance Sister, a sequel to Second Chance, will be released by Crimson Romance in early 2013; my fifth, Planting Walnuts, will be released by Flying Chipmunk Publishing later in 2013; and my sixth, The Life and Times of Griswald Grimm (additional stories featuring the Whisperwood Ordinaire characters), will be released by FCP - umm, after that.

When did you first think of yourself as a writer?

Since fifth grade, I think. That's the year my dad saw something of mine on the kitchen table and asked me what book I copied it from, sort of a backhanded compliment.  I've always loved fantasy and science fiction.

How did you end up living in NH?

When I was in grad school, I saw a job ad for a beginning position at a NH high school, and came out to take it because I was broke and I needed someplace to be! All my possessions were in the back of my (very cheap) car, and I moved out to a minimally-furnished apartment in Keene.

Where do you like to write?

I've now got a desk set up in our master bedroom, and my husband [author Terry Kepner] has the spare bedroom, so we don't disturb each other.

How important is place in your writing?

"Place" is very important in my writing.  I grew up in the country, and there is a lot of that rural insularity in things I write.  Many of my characters are defined by the places they were born or grew up in, even if they're fantasy-world places.
What do you do when you aren't writing?

Work.  Read.  Read at work.  Teach a little.  Parent a little.  Run a LOT of errands.  I'm also a member of several writing groups, some which communicate by Internet and some which are "live."  I love the "live" ones best - Monadnock Writers Group, NH Romance Writers Association, the occasional Broad Universe get-together.  I'm trying to work more on my web site (which I enjoy) and my blog (which I hate - I am SO not a "blog person.").

What’s the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given?

That would probably have to be medical advice, since I stressed out from trying to do too much and getting no thanks for it, and made myself physically ill (I had diverticulitis and spent 2 months out of work, after surgery).  So maybe it's "Take time to smell the roses."  I know I'm not as unhappy as I used to be, and that takes some hard work!

What books do you love and what about them speaks to you?

I love Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and also Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, because those two men really know how to handle words.  But I think there were passages in Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night that spoke to me more than anything else I've ever read, where Miss DeVine and Harriet Vane are discussing living up to others' expectations of one, and how "it is absolutely fatal to listen to them."  I have found that again and again to be true.

What are you working on now?

 I just proofread the galleys of Second Chance Sister, and got rejections for a couple of contests I entered with partial manuscripts (I think I averaged about a C-plus).  So I'm working on something silly, a story about vampires that will probably never see the light of day (pun intended).

What do you want to share that I neglected to ask about?

We are all pressed for time.  This is not news.  Don't bother telling me about how pressed you are, because I am, too.  Just carve out that little bit of time, lovingly, to write at night or browse a store without buying anything, or doing a favor for a neighbor.  The favor isn't the gift, it's the time.

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