Jera’s Jamboree : Feature Post Linda MacDonald

I am delighted to welcome Linda MacDonald to Jera’s Jamboree today.

Colour crop

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught secondary science and biology in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write, paint and make jewellery. In 1990 she was lured back into teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught health and social care and psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’. Health issues in 2011 prompted Linda to retire from teaching in order to concentrate on her writing career.


How Meeting Lydia came to Be

If it wasn’t for a life changing event in 2009, Meeting Lydia would probably remain unpublished. This is the story of how it came to be.

When I was five, just like Marianne in Meeting Lydia, I was sent to a boys’ prep school. Sometimes I was the only girl in the class and looking back, it is no surprise that I was bullied.

As I grew up, I loved to write and I knew my early experiences could be used to inspire some unique scenes in a novel, but I didn’t have a plot. Instead, I pursued a teaching career, practised my writing skills on many different projects, and all the while in the background, behind a hazy curtain through which I couldn’t quite reach, the bullying theme still whispered.

In 2001, Friends Reunited appeared as the first of the major social networking sites. I found the only boy in the class who never bullied me and decided to write to him. We ended up exchanging emails and suddenly I thought that with a bit of spicing up of reality, and the creation of fictional lives for the adults, I might at last have found a plot for my novel, centred round internet relationships.

I started to write Meeting Lydia: hesitant at first, some emails – often inspired by things I’d heard on Radio 4, odd memories forming the back story about prep school and bullying, and a collection of thoughts about midlife issues. I was teaching psychology by this time and some of my students volunteered to do an extra-curricular session about internet relationships so that I could research their views. With the support of two enthusiastic friends, week by week, month by month, the novel grew. It took five years before it was ready for the world.

Over the next year or so, I pitched to publishers with my covering letter, synopsis and sample chapters, and I collected rejection slips, some with encouraging comments. I still believed in the book, confident that the messages within would resonate with many readers, but I was rapidly losing faith that I, as a non-celebrity and unproven author, would ever attract attention. Meanwhile I started to write a sequel, making it stand alone and slightly more commercial than Meeting Lydia.

Three years on and I had completed a draft. I intended to have it edited and then go through the same submission process as before. However, at the end of 2009 something happened that was to change the course of my life.

It was an ordinary Monday morning in mid-December and I left home in the usual bleary-eyed rush, fully expecting to return again in the darkness of a cold winter evening. During the lesson before lunch, my students were in the middle of doing group presentations and the tables and chairs had been arranged in clusters around the room. One of the students asked if she could use our mini whiteboards and I went to the office to get them and then returned to stand at the back of the class. I was making a manoeuvre between the wall and the back of the students’ chairs, trying not to damage some posters that were peeling slightly. A student shuffled her chair, being helpful, and the heel of my shoe caught the leg of the chair and I over-balanced. In a reflex action, I stuck out my arm as I hurtled towards a desk, and in a split second, my hand hit the edge and I collapsed to the floor in a heap. I couldn’t get up; the pain was almost unbearable.

I will spare you the gory details, suffice to say I had dislocated my elbow and smashed my wrist so badly I had to have a metal plate put in it. The whole business reminded me of the fragility of life and while in hospital I decided not to spend any more time chasing traditional publishers.

The independent publishing business was rapidly gaining respectability. After my recovery, I went back to polishing Meeting Lydia and then approached Troubador, whose Matador imprint is marketed at the quality end of self-publishing. They say they don’t accept everything and I remember the anxiety waiting for a decision, thinking that if they said ‘no’, then it might be the end of my dream. When the email came through saying they would be happy to proceed with the project, I was almost as ecstatic as if I had secured a publishing deal. But more hard work ensued. The publishing process is a story in itself; another story for another time.

Some ten years since its inception, Meeting Lydia hit the shelves in September 2011.

Not all life changing experiences are negative, even though they feel like it at the time …

Meeting Lydia is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours 



Tour Host

15th April 2013 The Little Reader Library
16th April 2013 Room for Reading
17th April 2013 Reading in the Sunshine
18th April 2013 Kim the Bookworm
19th April 2013 Brook Cottage Books


Linda’s links

 Amazon UK Author Page

Amazon US Author Page

Troubador Author page Meeting Lydia

Troubador Author page A Meeting of a Different Kind

Twitter @LindaMac1





12 thoughts on “Jera’s Jamboree : Feature Post Linda MacDonald

  1. What a very interesting and inspiring post Linda. I think many of us feel that the chances of getting a publishing deal as an unknown writer are so slim that it’s not worth bothering – so it’s very encouraging to hear about a good ‘self-publisher.’ Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck with your next work.

  2. Hi Linda, I know we’ve spoken many times on Twitter but I never fully knew the story behind ‘Meeting Lydia’ and about your accident, etc. It’s such an inspiration, knowing how you stuck at it and never doubted your belief in the novel. I have it on my Kindle to read and can’t wait!

    Great post and a fab guest. Love your site, Shaz x

    • What wonderful comments Jan. Thank you 🙂

      One thing I hear of time and again from authors is ‘persistence’ It is a long and hard road for some writers. I always think an element of luck is also a part of the writing journey!

      I’m attending a writing workshop run by Della Galton on Saturday … watch out LOL

    • Hi Jan, thanks for your kind words. Sometimes it is only after a passage of time that one feels one can share the details of a personal trauma. So pleased to hear it has inspired you. I am always entertained by the ongoing tale on Twitter of your Windproof Hood! I do thank you for your support and will look forward to your feedback when you read Meeting Lydia.

  3. Hi Linda, from tweeting and emails over the time, I knew you had suffered an injury but never knew how it happened or quite how serious it was. Sounds dreadful. 😦 You’re so right about the fragility of life, we must never take things for granted or waste time – sometimes it’s the fear that holds us back. So glad things have worked out for you re the publishing. I enjoyed reading ‘Meeting Lydia’ and am looking forward to see what happens next in ‘A Meeting of a Different Kind’. Wishing you every success.

    • Hi Sue, thank you so much for this comment. I was hesitant at first about revealing the details of the story online but feel that now is the right time and Jera’s Jamboree, the perfect place – such a supportive community! Your support for Lydia has been much appreciated and I am delighted that you will be playing a part when A Meeting of a Different Kind tours in July. x

  4. How inspirational! Sounds like a very interesting book too. Thanks for sharing your experiences, it’s very reassuring to those of us who are just starting on the path of rejection : )

    • Thank you Amanda and glad you like the sound of Meeting Lydia! There is always hope when starting out – but it can be a time-consuming process honing and rehoning the pitch and the synopsis (without which we are led to believe there is no hope of getting the sample read); then sending and resending the manuscript sample. Persistence can pay, as in the case of J.K. Rowling’s story, but for me, the time had definitely come to try a different option.

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