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. What is your age?
Linda Tillis I am sixty-seven years young.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from Dunnellon, Florida, which is on the Gulf of Mexico side of the state.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My first job, right out of high school, was in a sewing factory. You had to be 18 years of age, and I would not turn 18 for two months, so I lied. I lived in fear the whole two months that they would find out, and fire me! I worked on the sewing floor for nine years. Then my supervisor recommended me for a position as assistant to the manager, and I spent another nine years dealing with fashion houses in New York. When it looked like the industry was dying in Florida, (because of overseas production) I changed jobs. I mean I really changed jobs. I went to work for the local police department as a dispatcher. After a few short months, a position for Crime Scene Investigator opened up and I applied, and was accepted. This was the beginning of twenty years of brutal work. But, it provided a rich tapestry of story ideas from which to draw.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My third book, A Heart For All Time, is the story of a 911 operator who wakes up one morning to discover she has been transported to 1890, and must immediately save a man from hanging. This one is with my editor now and hopefully will be out just before Christmas.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?After twenty years of CSI work, my husband finally convinced me that the job was slowly killing me. Years of rapes, murders, and lesser crimes had taken its toll. He bought me a great camera and said, “Go out and photograph LIVING things.” I took a year to re-join the “normal” world. I was too young to retire completely, so I went to work for the local Sheriff’s office as a 911 dispatcher. But, in the meantime I sold some really nice photos, and a couple of articles, to the Florida Wildlife Magazine. Then my wonderful husband said, “You know, you should really write a book.” So, in 2014 I did. It took several months to find the right publisher, The Wild Rose Press. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was so amazed that I had actually sold the first book, that it was not until the second contract was offered, that I really started to think I might be able to call myself a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Aside from my husband’s urging, I had accumulated hundreds of victim’s stories, and they needed to be told. It was a cleansing for me, and began a healing process.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Quite often, the kindest, most loving, women become victims over time. Only if they are as strong as they are loving, can they heal, and leave victimhood behind. So, A Heart Made For Love seemed like the best choice.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I have been told that my “voice” is genuine, and very much like myself. I am what is known in the States as a Southerner, which translates into an easy, laid back, gentle person. Unless, of course, you rile us! My greatest challenge is punctuation, and I’m fortunate to have a kind, and loving, editor!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The whole of the book is based on true life events and travails of women. It was easier for me to place it all in an historical setting, as writing it in the past made it less raw and painful.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
So far, all my books have been placed in areas that I either live near, or have travelled through.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher has a stable of wonderful cover artists. My first two were created by Debbie Taylor, and it was a joy working with her.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! I want women to know that when bad things happen to you, they do not have to define your future. You can overcome them, and build the life you envisioned as a young girl.
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 love Mary Morgan, and Grace Burroughs, and my stories have been compared to Janette Oke. When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher caught me reading a “bodice ripper” during my lunch hour. She was horrified, and told me if I was going to read, at least read something worthwhile. At the time, Barbara Cartland, or Rosemary Rogers was the book of choice. Unfortunately, the teacher has since passed away, but I would have loved to sit down with her, and discuss the influence of those books on my decision to write.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Before I retired permanently, I spent a lot of time pulling nightshift in dispatch. After two in the morning, it is usually very quiet. Two of the ladies who worked with me began to read chapters for me, and their combined urging convinced me that I might have a book in me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I did not at first. It was, as I said previously, a cathartic act. But, when friends and family started telling me how much they enjoyed the stories, I began to take it seriously. With two contracts under my belt, anticipation of a third, and the fourth book underway, I think I can safely say it is now a career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes, I would include more characters. The first two are about a family, and there were several smaller plots going on that made the word count much easier to achieve.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a little about the Cherokee Indian lore.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Good question! I have gone to great lengths to describe the characters so well that I’m not sure who would be best to portray them.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yes, don’t wait. If you think you have a book, or two, or twenty in you, start now! You may be a student, young mother, or older woman who works every day. You may think someday, I will write. Don’t wait. Go ahead and tell as many stories as possible now.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I would like for them to know that, while most writers love what they do, it is hard work. The best way to let an author know that you appreciate that fact, is to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. Just say I liked this book!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I got my third book off to my editor just before all the warnings leading up to hurricane Irma, and have been without power in 95-degree weather for the last seven days, so I am currently not reading.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, I cannot remember my first book. But, “To Kill A Mockingbird” made an incredible impression on me, as a young girl from the South.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My husband says I am an empath, and everything makes me cry! Like a Kleenex or Kodak commercial at Christmas time. I love to laugh, but do not like really silly movies. There has to be some sharp wit along with the laugh.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Last year I watched the television special, “To Walk Invisible”, which was the story of the Bronte sisters. They had such painful lives at the beginning of their writing careers, that I believe they would have been perfect for an interview.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
When I first retired, I tried my hand at portrait photography. I wanted to do “situational settings”. I was doing a Bonnie & Clyde type thing with my daughter, and could not find the hat that I wanted. And again, my husband came through. He said, “make what you want.” So, I learned millenary, and actually sold a few hats. When I get stuck, and can’t write, I make jewelry.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Just this year I got hooked on Game of Thrones. I must say, the sexual content was a shocker, but the plots were incredible. We did a binge thing just before the new season started, and now I can’t wait for the last season.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pizza, the color red, and what we in the South call Country/Rock. But, I don’t listen to music when I write.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would tell stories through photography, jewelry, and millenary.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“She was loved, and shared it with the world”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?