Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Twin Lakes, Ohio with a lake in the backyard and another across the street. Ice skating in the winter and swimming in the summer! We moved to Southern California when I was five, and I lived there through high school.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
It took me awhile to decide what I “wanted to be when I grew up,” so I have a few different degrees: an AA degree in art, an AS degree in mechanical drafting & design, and a BS degree in Manufacturing Management.
I live in Santa Cruz with my husband, Charlie, and dog, Ginger. We don’t have any children, but between nieces, nephews, godchildren and friends’ children, we have a lot of kids that brighten up our lives.
I’ve always loved dogs, so they have been a big part of my life as well. You can read about all my dogs on my website!https://lindacovella.com/about/my-pugs/
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just found out that I’m a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review contest for my book Cryptogram Chaos, A Virtual Reality Adventurehttps://lindacovella.com/cryptogram-chaos/in the Young Adult category, though readers 8 or 10 years old and up would enjoy it. This is a great honor in and of itself. My fingers are crossed to make it as a finalist, and then who knows, to win!
Also, I have a non-fiction picture book coming out beginning of 2018. It will be my first published picture book!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I loved to draw and paint from an early age, and I always thought I’d be an artist. However, being the practical sort (meaning I needed to make money), I went on to do other things with my career. But I still draw and paint for my own pleasure.
And another creative outlet I always loved is writing, that also from an early age.Even back in second grade, I wrote and illustrated How I Spent My Summer Vacation and won an award! I wrote my first “book” Through the Years of My Life for a school assignment at the ripe old age of 10. Funny, but I found plenty to write about “my life so far.” You can read this on my website.https://lindacovella.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/through-the-years-of-my-life-2.pdf
While furthering my education and working different jobs (mechanical drafter and designer, project manager, and finally business owner with my husband), I started freelance writing on the side.
My first official publication was a restaurant review column for a local newspaper. Of course, I loved that job! But when I published articles for various children’s magazines, I realized I’d found my niche, writing for children and teens—who I think are the best audiences a writer could have.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started getting freelance writing jobs, but it’s taken me years, even after publishing some books, to tell people that I’m a writer. I think because it’s always been something I did “on the side,” second to my other jobs.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is Yakimali’sGift, https://lindacovella.com/yakimalis-gift/a young adult historical romance.
Years ago, I wrote a children’s story where kids tell how their ancestors came to America throughout the history of the United States. When researching how and when different nationalities arrived in America, I discovered the Anza expedition. I was really surprised I’d never heard of it before or that it hadn’t been taught in school, especially since I grew up in California. I love and believe in our country’s diversity, and this was one of the historical events I wanted people to know about, and I wanted to focus on the children’s and women’s experience on the journey.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I really, really struggle with titles, and this book had many iterations: “My Name is Fernanda, My Name is Yakimali” (too long), “Call Me Butterfly” (Yakimalimeans butterfly in the Pima language. A publisher wanted this name, but then the contract fell through), and I finally settled on the current name. I ended up loving the name because the “gift” has a double meaning in the story.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Historical fiction is especially challenging because it requires a lot of research. My Ghost Whisperer Serieshttps://lindacovella.com/ghost-whisperer-series/has time travel, so that also required research, and I had to research technical aspects of Cryptogram Chaos. I think all writing requires some research, but I love doing it, so though it’s challenging, it’s a fun aspect of my writing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Ghost Whisperer Series takes place in Santa Cruz where I live, so that was fun researching and learning about local history (because of the time travel aspect of the stories.) In the first book in the series The Castle Blues Quake, you’re introduced to 12-year-old Pepper, who discovers she’s a “ghost whisperer.” She’s struggling with a move from New York City to Santa Cruz, leaving her best friend and all.
I was around her age when my father was transferred from California to Pennsylvania. But my parents decided they didn’t like it, so after six months, we moved back to California. That was a difficult time for me, so I was able to incorporate those feelings into Pepper’s character.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
For Yakimali’s Gift, I traveled to Arizona and visited many of the historical sites that appear in my story. I loved doing that. I had already written my first draft, so seeing the places I’d written about was thrilling and helped with my story’s descriptions as well as characterization.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher designed the Ghost Whisperer covers. (They’ve since gone out of business, and were kind enough to let their authors keep the covers and help us self-publish our books.) For Cryptogram Chaos, I bought a premade cover (a reasonable way to go if you can find the right one). And for Yakimali’s Gift, I hired Deborah Bradseth from Tugboat Design www.tugboatdesign.net. And for the interior, I hired Jo Michaels from Indie Books Gone Wild https://www.ibgw.net/ . Both of these women did a fantastic job and I highly recommend them!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I wantYakimali’s Gift to be a story of hope. Hope that we value our ancestry and appreciate the richness of our country’s diversity. And hope that, like Fernanda, we have the determination and passion to live the lives we truly desire among the people we love.
For The Castle Blues Quake, The Ghosts of Pebble Brook Lodge, and Cryptogram Chaos, my main message is to value friendship, that you can find strength and joy, belonging and community with your friends.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’ve been an avid reader from an early age thanks to my mother who was a school librarian. I must always have a book to read!
It’s always difficult to pick one favorite author because I read such a wide variety of genres and books for both adults and children. I get more into character than plot (though of course the plot has to be engaging), so if a story includes deeply realized characters, I’ll enjoy it.
Here’s a list of some of my all-time favorite books:
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- 4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
- Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
- Bell Canto by Ann Patchett
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
Neil Gaiman is always good. For scary books I like Holly Black and all of Mary Hahn Downing’s books, which are all ghost stories. I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe when I was young, and would like to revisit his books.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My critique partners. We’ve been together for over ten years and are more than writing partners. We’ve shared a lot in our personal lives. And we’re always there for each other with encouragement and help in our publishing pursuits.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It’s tough to make a living with only writing. I would love that to be my only career, but I also like the other work I do, which now is running my husband and my small business.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not that I can think of.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
The most recent is Cryptogram Chaos, and I learned a lot about virtual reality as well as cryptograms.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For Yakimali’s Gift, I’d love to see Antonio Banderas play Papa, and Penelope Cruz play Feliciana. I think modelMartin Sensmeier would be perfect for Miguel. I’m not sure about the main character Fernanda or Nicolas.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
My road to publication has been a long one, and I’m so excited to finally have made it to “published author.” I want to tell any aspiring writers out there to Never Give Up. Though this might be a cliché and something you’ve heard many times before, I really mean it. I’ve gone through the tears and depression of all those rejections. But I kept at it. I never gave up. So that’s my advice to you: keep writing, keep revising, keep improving, and you’ll find your dream will come true!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I want to thank my readers. You are the reason I spin my stories! And I want to thank all readers in general. I appreciate you all, because reading is so important and necessary and helpful in all aspects of our lives.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey, historical fiction “cozy mystery.”
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
That was a long time ago! But I do remember that I would often call my mother up at the library where she worked and tell her, “Mom, I need some more books to read!” As I grew older, I loved going up and down the aisles of the library, deciding which books to take home.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My husband makes me laugh, one of the reasons I fell in love with him! Music can make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet author Doris Lessing. I’ve always loved her writing, and she had such an interesting life.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love to cook. Also gardening, camping and drawing and painting.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Some of my favorite all-time movies are Romeo and Juliet (the Franco Zeffirelli-directed version, though Romeo + Juliet is good, too), Out of Africa, and many old musicals such as Singin’ In the Rain. And, I did really enjoy La La Land.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pasta pastapasta! The color green. Many kinds of music: rock, classical, jazz, some country.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Travel, paint, draw, garden, volunteer.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She loved her life!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Readers can find me here: