I would like to welcome author Linda MacDonald to Jera’s Jamboree today.
Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She has a degree in psychology and a PGCE in biology and science. She is a former teacher of Psychology and lives in Beckenham, Kent.
Her debut novel Meeting Lydia was published 1st September 2011 (you can read my review here). The stand-alone sequel A Meeting of a Different Kind, is due for publication 1st November 2012.
Welcome Linda. I hope you enjoy being in the spotlight today.
My pleasure! Thank you for inviting me!
In Meeting Lydia you sensitively explore how childhood bullying can have an affect later on in life through lead character Marianne’s insecurities. Are there any themes in A Meeting of a Different Kind?
As with Meeting Lydia, A Meeting of a Different Kind is multi-themed. The main themes are: loyalty in adult female friendships; the disruptive consequences of borderline bipolar disorder, and the potentially destabilising effects of a large inheritance on a previously happy marriage. There are undercurrents of environmental issues throughout.
Please tell us more about A Meeting of a Different Kind.
Edward was happily married to Felicity, but since her inheritance and unilateral decision to open a restaurant and turn their home into a small eco-farm, their relationship has been under strain.
On the other side of the country, Taryn ejects boyfriend Marc from her flat, and is contemplating whether she still has the same pulling power as she had when she was younger.
Edward and Taryn don’t know each other, but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is an ex classmate who may have had a crush on him. She is Taryn’s best friend and is continually telling her that Edward is wonderful and not the philandering type. Taryn sees a challenge and in one of her manic moods, plans to meet him at the British Museum where he is giving a series of lectures.
Marianne is the link between both novels. We meet best friend Taryn and crush Edward in the first. What was the inspiration behind writing a novel where they are the lead characters?
I wanted my sequel to stand alone and to be different from Meeting Lydia. Although the story continues from where it left off, I felt it would be more interesting for readers this time, to hear Edward’s perspective. Of course we still need to know what Marianne thinks about him when they meet, but rather than this happening through her voice, I decided that this could be delivered in communication with her best friend. Also, Taryn is a most interesting woman and I realised during Meeting Lydia that I was just showing a tiny fraction of her character, and that it would be fascinating to explore her depths.
Both of your novels explore the psychology of relationships. ‘Friends Reunited’ is quite pivotal in Meeting Lydia. Did you conduct any research into internet relationships?
‘Relationships’ is one of the topics on the A level Psychology specification and there is a section devoted to electronic relationships. This was the starting point for my research and a group of my students volunteered to do a special after-college class on the subject in order for me to examine their attitudes in more detail, and allow me to write the scenes where Marianne is teaching the topic to her students. More recent research covers the potentially relationship-damaging effects of meeting ex-boyfriends and girlfriends through social networking. But this was less clear-cut during the years in which the two books are set. And of course Edward was not an ex-boyfriend, so that slightly changes the dynamic.
You’ve had a lot of support from local sources in Beckenham. Please could you tell us more about this?
Both novels are set locally in Beckenham and the Beckenham-Bromley Twitter community is one of the most active in the country. Via @Beckenham and the #BeckBromFL, word is spread about local businesses and enterprises and we are developing a significant support network. My talk at Southborough Library came as a direct result of interacting on Twitter and having found that the audience was very interested in the story of how Meeting Lydia came to be, I am confident that this is the way forward in order to promote both my books.
Is there a time of day when you find you are more creative? Do you have a writing schedule?
For most of my adult life, the day job has meant writing taking second place and being squeezed into odd moments in the evenings and at weekends. I have found I am more creative in the late evening. When I was writing Meeting Lydia, even if very tired at the end of the day, I would discipline myself to write instead of watching rubbish on television. I would say to myself ‘just write 100 words’ and then often the muse would strike, I would write much more, and the basis for a chapter would emerge. Now that I have given up teaching, I have yet to establish a clear schedule. But I do favour the mornings and evenings. I am completely uninspired in the afternoons!
Are you a panster or a plotter?
Probably a mixture of the two! Meeting Lydia began as a series of dissociated chapters which I eventually realised had the potential to become a novel. I then did some serious planning as to how that could be achieved. With the sequel, I planned the essential direction of the story and key pivotal moments. I knew how it might end. But during the writing, the characters often take over and lead in unexpected directions. I’m happy to follow them.
Which authors have influenced or inspired you?
David Lodge, Fay Weldon, Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel all have clear individual voices and are not afraid to experiment with structure and style. Reading their work gave me confidence to try something a little different in Meeting Lydia.
And finally, what is your WIP?
Although A Meeting of a Different Kind (Lydia2) has a clear ending, there is a tiny door left open. I had no idea how I might go through this until I woke up one morning in summer with an idea. At the moment I am playing with possibilities for Lydia3. A trilogy has a comfortable feel and at present I am working on structure and writing some scenes. I have a main plotline, but if it is to stand up against its predecessors, I would like to develop a few more strands. It is still early days and I am not yet certain that it will have enough weight to become the type of novel I like to write. However, the enthusiasm with which people have read Meeting Lydia, and the feedback I am beginning to receive for the sequel, are inspiring me to continue.
Thank you Linda. Wishing you lots of success for A Meeting of a Different Kind which is due for publication TODAY!
Thank you Shaz! Much appreciated!
You can tweet with Linda @LindaMac1
Now 46, when Marianne finds her charming husband in the kitchen talking to the glamorous Charmaine, her childhood insecurities resurface and their once-happy marriage begins to slide. Teenage daughter Holly persuades her to join Friends Reunited, which results in both fearful and nostalgic memories of prep school as Marianne wonders what has become of the bullies and of Edward Harvey. Frantic to repair her marriage, yet rendered snappy and temperamental by her plummeting hormones, her attempts towards reconciliation fail. The answer to all her problems could lie in finding Edward again…But what would happen if she found what she seeks? Meeting Lydia is a book about childhood bullying, midlife crises, obsession, jealousy and the ever-growing trend of internet relationships. It will appeal to fans of adult fiction and those interested in the dynamics and psychology of relationships.
When archaeologist Edward Harvey’s wife Felicity inherits almost a million, she gives up her job, buys a restaurant and, as a devotee of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, starts turning their home into a small eco-farm. Edward is not happy, not least because she seems to be losing interest in him. Taryn is a borderline manic-depressive, a scheming minx, a seductress and user of men. Edward and Taryn don’t know each other but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is a former classmate who sends him crazy emails. She is Taryn’s best friend, and when Marianne meets Edward, she tells Taryn how wonderful he is and that he is not the philandering type. Taryn sees a challenge and concocts a devious plan to meet him during a series of lectures he is giving at the British Museum. When Edward and Taryn’s paths cross, questions of friendship, loyalty and betrayal are played out against a backdrop of mental fragility and the destabilising effects of a large inheritance…Set in Broadclyst and Beckenham, with a chapter on the Isles of Scilly, A Meeting of a Different Kind is the stand-alone sequel to Meeting Lydia, continuing the story from the perspectives of two very different characters. Like its prequel, it will appeal to fans of adult fiction, especially those interested in the psychology of relationships.