Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Linda Weaver Clarke: Author Interview and Giveaway

Today I have another author interview to share with you. This one is with Linda Weaver Clarke, who writes sweet historical romances appropriate for both adults and teens. Linda writes with a unique perspective, using her own family history as resource ideas for her novels. I hope you enjoy the interview and yes, stick around, because there will be a giveaway at the end!

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Linda. Please tell us a little about your "Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho" series.

Linda: In my family saga series, I have set my story in Paris, Idaho…the place that my ancestors settled in 1863. They were the very first pioneers that settled that area. Also, I love inserting real ancestral or family experiences into my novels. To me, their experiences have always intrigued me. It brings a story to life. For example, in Melinda and the Wild West, I inserted an experience that happened to my dad. When he was young, his father asked him to bury the skunks he had shot. Before my dad buried them, he drained their scent glands into a bottle. He called it “skunk oil.” Then he took it to school to show his friends. While explaining how he had done it, he must have gotten a little too excited because he accidentally dropped the bottle and it splattered on the floor. The scent of concentrated skunk oil permeated the room with a stench that was indescribable. Everyone ran out of the school as fast as their little legs would go. And the teacher followed close behind. My father said that he was a hero for one day because he got school out for his classmates. This novel eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007.”

JDP: The first book in your series, Melinda and the Wild West, is set in 1896. What did you find most fascinating about this time period?

Linda: I learned so much about Bear Lake Valley. I found out that Butch Cassidy robbed the bank in Montpelier in 1896 and they kept a complete record of it, even what the teller said at the end of the bank robbery. I was able to use it in my story. (By the way, I found out the town of Montpelier puts on a reenactment of the bank robbery every year. I thought that was interesting.) I also found out that they painted pencils yellow for the very first time and for a very good reason. I added this to my novel and received many e-mails about it. I also found out that the famous Ice Palace was built in 1896 in Leadville, Colorado. It was so intriguing that I decided Melinda was going to visit this place. It was made of five thousand tons of ice blocks formed into the shape of a magnificent palace, measuring 325 feet by 180 feet with towers reaching 90 feet high, and it enclosed five acres of ground. Inside the palace, there was a dance floor, a restaurant, a gaming room, and a 180-foot ice rink. It was illuminated with electric lights that sparkled against the ice blocks. It was built in January 1896 and melted in March.

JDP: Wow, a real Ice Palace made of ice! That must have been something to see it melt in March! I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels. Could you tell us a little about how you researched the historical background for Melinda and the Wild West?

Linda: I put a great deal of research into my novels. I search books and the Internet as long as it has a bibliography attached to back up the information. Then you can add this to the back of your book for those who would like to research it themselves.

JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite research books or other resources?

Linda: One of my favorite books I researched was a booklet called Old Ephraim by Newell J. Crookston. It’s the story of the “last giant grizzly of Bridgerland.” For example, the subplot for Jenny’s Dream is about a ten-foot grizzly bear taken from Idaho history. The research about this old grizzly was exciting to me because I had grown up with the stories of Old Ephraim. He wreaked havoc wherever he went, slaughtering sheep and calves, and scaring sheepherders so badly that they actually quit their jobs. With one blow of his paw, he could break the back of a cow. I found that he was the smartest bear that ever roamed the Rocky Mountains. No one could catch him. Every bear trap they set was tossed many yards away from where they had put it, and the ones that weren’t tripped had Old Three Toes tracks all around it. He was too smart to be caught. It took one man that could outsmart this bear: Frank Clark from Malad, Idaho! In this story, I included every detail about this bear and his deeds.

The second book I enjoyed is called Land of the Sky-Blue Water: A History of the L.D.S. Settlement of the Bear Lake Valley written by Russell R. Rich. In my research for David and the Bear Lake Monster, I found that people really believe in this legend. The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it. The monster’s eyes were flaming red and its ears stuck out from the sides of its skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator, and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. Of course, it only came out in the evening or at dusk. Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. When Charles C. Rich, the founder of this settlement, heard about the monster and what people were saying, he began taking notes, writing all the interesting facts down. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community.

Another booklet that I thoroughly enjoyed was a dictionary of the language for the roaring 20’s. I loved it. Elena, Woman of Courage is the last in this series and is set in 1925. It was a blast to research. I found words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Baloney! You slay me! If you were All Wet, you were mistaken or wrong about something. If a man said, “Hey, look at those gams!” What were gams? Of all things, it’s a woman’s legs. When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, he was goofy. If a person was a fool, he was a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing or romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great!

JDP: Are there any historical figures from the era of Melinda and the Wild West who particularly intrigue you?

Linda: Robert LeRoy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy, was interesting. He was born in Beaver, Utah, and was raised by kind and religious LDS parents. He worked on a ranch near Circleville, Utah. While a teenager, Parker became a good friend with an old rustler named Mike Cassidy. After Parker left home, he took on the name of his mentor. Cassidy was known for his quick wit, charm, fearlessness, and bravery, which made him a good leader of his gang and very likeable. Cassidy and his gang were known for the longest sequence of successful robberies in the history of the American West. As far as the historians know, he never killed a person the whole time he was an outlaw.

JDP: What inspired you to write your "Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho" series?

Linda: Each book was inspired by something that happened in my family. For example, in Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, I based this story around the courtship of my parents. They wrote letters to one another before they ever met. She said that she fell in love with the soul of my father, what was deep down inside and they didn’t even know what one another looked like. The day they met, my mother told me that her heart leapt within her and a warm glow filled her soul and she knew she would marry this man. I knew this would be the basis of my next novel, but there’s one difference. In my story, you don’t know who the mysterious stranger is until the end of the book. Some readers guessed right while others were pleasantly surprised.

My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for David and the Bear Lake Monster. Sarah lost her hearing as a child but she never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness while swimming, that people would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. Once an intruder hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. What a courageous woman!

Jenny’s Dream was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I learned that forgiveness was essential for true happiness, and that is why I felt this story needed to be told. Jenny must learn to forgive and put her past behind her. This story is about accomplishing one’s dreams and the miracle of forgiveness, with a bit of adventure from Old Ephraim, the ten-foot grizzly bear. To read an excerpt from each story, visit http://www.lindaweaverclarke.com/samplechapters.html.


JDP: Each of your books sounds unique and fascinating! You present workshops entitled "Family Legacy Workshop". Would you explain to us what that is and what you teach in your workshops?

Linda: I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. Our children need to understand their ancestors and be proud of them. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint their stories, to be the storyteller. To read samples of what you can do with your stories, visit www.lindaweaverclarke.com and read the “short stories” of my ancestors.

JDP: What a wonderful concept for your workshops! Are you working on any new projects?

Linda: I’m working on a mystery series. I always enjoy putting a little history in each of my novels. The mysteries of the Anasazi Indians, the Mayas, Montezuma’s Treasure, and the Lost Dutchman Mine have intrigued archaeologists and scientists for many years. In the Adventures of John and Julia Evans, I delve into such mysteries. The first book in this series is Anasazi Intrigue.

JDP: Where can readers obtain copies of your books?

Linda: From my website, Amazon, and bookstores who buy from Baker and Taylor Distribution. I also have a blog where I let people know when my books are out. It’s http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com.

JDP: What a treasure trove of history and interesting facts you are, Linda! Thank you so much for joining us today!

Now for the giveaway! Linda has agreed to donate an autographed copy of the first volume in her "A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho" series, Melinda and the Wild West, to one lucky reader of this interview! Here is how you can enter to win a copy:

(1) Leave a comment on this blog telling me why you'd like to win this book.

(2) Leave a comment on this blog telling me the name of one historical person that you'd like to meet and why.

(3) Leave a comment on this blog telling me the name of one of your ancestors you'd like to meet and why. (Doesn't have to be a direct line relative. I have an ancestor "cousin" who stole a frying pan and beat up a Catholic priest, whom I'd like to ask, "What were you thinking???")

Please leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each of the above, then EMAIL your name and mailing address (just once) to jdipastena@yahoo.com, with "JDP NEWS Giveaway" in the subject line, telling me you've entered my drawing. That will save us all kinds of time in trying to track you down if you win! Each comment will count as a separate entry, so comment three times for three chances to win!

Deadline for entries is Sunday, November 15, midnight PST. The winner will be announced here on this blog on Monday, November 16.

Have fun and good luck!

33 comments:

Danyelle Ferguson said...

This sounds like a wonderful historical novel. I'd love to read it!

queenoftheclan@gmail.com

Danyelle Ferguson said...

One historical person . . . it's so difficult to choose! I would love to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. She was such an incredible woman. I'd also like to meet Sally Ride, the first female astronaut. There are so many more!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I would love to meet my great-something grandfather, Nicolas Bauman, who was the first person on my father's side to come to America. When he arrived, it was just him and three young sons. I would love to ask him what happened to his wife, why they left Switzerland to come here, and what their journey was like.

Connie Hall said...

I love historical fiction and would so much like to meet Linda Clark. I'd also like to take her class. I write stories for children using my ancestors as the main characters. All of Linda's books sound great.

Connie Hall said...

There are hundreds of historical people that I would like to meet. Since visiting Salem and Springfield, IL I'd had a great desire to meet Abraham Licoln. There are so many questions that I'd like to ask him. It's sad that his great life was cut short.

Connie Hall said...

I've written several stories about my ancestors. Of course, I'd like to meet all of them, and someday I know I will. The first one that I'd like to talk to is Henry Sampson who as a young boy left his parents and came to this land on the Mayflower.

LuAnn said...

What wonderful stories! These are a great treat for young people to teach them a little about the history of their own country. I'd love to read them!

reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

LuAnn said...

I'd love to meet Catherine Sanger. She was a survivor of the Whitman Mission Indian massacre and my grandfather lived next door to her when he was a little boy. She had wonderful stories to tell, he said.

reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

LuAnn said...

I'd love to meet my mother's grandfather. He came out west on the covered wagons and settled quite an area, becoming a person known to many in the area.

reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Hello Joyce. Thanks for such a fun interview. I thought I should let you know that my novels aren't for children. They are for adults and young adults. It's a clean romance but it's not for children, probably 16 and older. I had so much fun answering your questions. Thanks, Joyce.

Joyce DiPastena said...

Thanks for the clarification, Linda! Everyone got that? Her books are aimed at readers 16 years and older. (I took adult readers as a given. I love to read both childrens and YA books, myself! :-) )

Allison said...

No need to enter me..but just wanted stop by and say what a wonderful author Linda is. I have read the whole series of books and absolutely love them!!! "Jenny's Dream" is my favorite!! I am looking forward to the new series!!

Rachelle said...

Sounds so neat! I'd love to win because my suspense novel coming out in June "Wrong Number" has Paris, Idaho as one of the settings! I think Paris is beautiful.

Rachelle said...

One historical person I'd like to meet. I'd like to meet Teancum from the Book of Mormon. He is one of my heroes!

Rachelle said...

An ancestor I'd like to meet? My great-great Grandpa. I'm pretty sure his name was Washington Lafayette Jolley--with a name like that, he'd have to be interesting.

Anna del C. Dye said...

My mother died when I was 6 years old and I would like to meet her again. I want to tell her that I love her.

Michelle Sutton said...

Sounds good to me. I've got tons to read but would like to review this if I win.

Suko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suko said...

No need to enter me in this great giveaway, because I already have a copy of this wonderful book. I'm also hosting a giveaway on my blog with Linda Weaver Clarke for the second book in this series, so stop by before Nov. 8 to enter.

Becki said...

I would love to win a copy of this book because it sounds so interesting! Plus, I live in Idaho and we love to go to Bear Lake!!

tbkress1 @ msn dot com

Becki said...

I would love to meet Helen Keller. She just seems like an awesome lady who rose above a lot of trials!

tbkress1 @ msn dot com

Becki said...

I'd like to meet my grandpa. He is a very close blood relative, but he died when my dad was 12. He instilled a love for the great outdoors in my dad, who passed that on to me. I would love to meet him!!

tbkress1 @ msn dot com

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I would love to read this book beacause it is a historical novel. I love history!

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I would love to meet Mary Fielding Smith. She is one of my relatives and had such an amazing spirit and brightness in her life

SiNn said...

well why id love to win is my mom who doesnt get on line much or know much about blogs would love to read this book and id love to give it to her as a gift tho times r hard right now so i try and win things for her.Shes awesome so the little things i can do to put a smile on her face i try and do them

SiNn said...

humm id like to meat Abe lincolns wife and ask her how she felta bout her husbands acomplishments or the scottish/irish queen who set the whole irish and scottish issues in motion theres so many Elenor Roosevelt was mentioned maybe some of the pioneers of the old west

SiNn said...

and as for ancestor i have an ancester that was a princess of a scottish decent who defied her father and went to Ireland id like to meet her and thank her because its her courage that set in motion many great things in my family

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

I love historical fiction because I can learn something at the same time as be entertained. Research is fun and I really enjoy it, but editing is my favorite part of writing because that is when I go into more depth in developing my characters. It's fun to bring them to life even more so than before. Thanks for such a fun interview and give away. Good luck, everyone!

CherylS22 said...

I'd like to win this book because it looks like a great start to a wonderful series.
Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

CherylS22 said...

I'd like to meet Madame Curie. She was a woman far ahead of her time & we share the love of chemistry.
megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

Rachel Andersen said...

I'd love to win this book because I love a great adventure romance and that is what this sounds like.

Rachel Andersen said...

I'd love to meet Niels Larsen Andersen who joined the church in Denmark, came over here and then returned to be a missionary.

Rachel Andersen said...

I'd love to meet Madame Currie.
It took courage to be a scientist when women weren't recognized to have a brain.