Linda Merlino is the author of Room of Tears (July 23 2013), Hudson Catalina (2008-Belly of the Whale & re-release 9/14/12), Swan Boat Souvenir (self-published 2003) she began writing fiction as a young mother on the sidelines of endless soccer practices. Linda wrote anytime any place. A manuscript filled a carton in the back seat of her car. Many years have passed since those early beginnings, but her work continues to be inspired by her children.
The author has a fascination with heroes and writes her fiction to honor ordinary men and women who react unselfishly in extraordinary circumstances. She extends her gratitude to all who keep us safe and free.
Her hometown is outside of Boston. She lived for many years in New York City and more recently calls Connecticut her home.
Find the author on the web:
Purchase ROOM OF TEARS on AMAZON.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Room of Tears. What was your inspiration for it?
A:In the spring of 2008 I had a chance encounter with a woman in North Carolina. She and I met at Raleigh Durham Airport to discuss arrangements for an upcoming book signing. During the course of our conversation I confessed to her that on the flight from New York to Raleigh I’d been thinking about the research I was doing on another book and decided that the process was too daunting and perhaps I should abandon the project. The woman asked about the subject matter, I told her the background of the story was 9/11. She picked up a pen and wrote the names of several books. Read these, she said, and then write your story. I lived it. My husband was a New York City firefighter he switched shifts that day because of a doctor’s appointment. He’s retired now. We moved down here to get away from the memories. She went on to tell me of the widows, and the funerals and the waiting, and the grief.
Write your story, she said, I may not be able to read it, but it needs to be written.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.
A: Diane O’Connor is the widow of firefighter, Billy O’Connor killed in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Her life as she knew it, as she had planned it, ended at 9:59 a.m. that morning. Extraordinary things happened subsequent to the tragedy, events that she has kept to herself – expecting to remain unspoken. Diane is a strong woman – she does not accept her fate without questioning-if it were not for her son born nine months after 9/11 she would not have revealed her journal and its remarkable accounts of the year that followed 9/11. A formidable woman, Diane O’Connor should not be forgotten.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A: I tally a total of six years in which I was consumed by the research and writing of Room of Tears. I struggled initially with the first chapter. I knew the ending but in order to get there-to get the reader there-I needed to work out the first chapter. Eventually I took a leap of faith breaking it up and putting slices of it later in the book. Beginning, instead, with the heart of the story – going there directly taking the reading to the jumping off place without any clues to where they were going.
Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?
A: Not an easy task…My only answer is to try and get into the skin and head of the character who is speaking – what will he or she say next – how will he or she react – how does he or she feel – and keep writing dialogue until you nail it.
Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?
A: Anxiety disappears while I am writing – writing is my medicine – the elixir for anxiety.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A:Balancing writing – family and writing has always been a challenge. The dynamics have altered but it is still a juggle. I try to stay disciplined and adhere to writing in the morning before the day begins in earnest and in the evening as a way to unwind.
Q: How do you define success?
A: My measure of success comes from knowing that I have stayed true to my writer’s gift.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
A: It is very difficult to pursue a writer’s life without the support of loved ones. Stay on course –put who you are in the forefront. Persevere – to thine own self be true – if nothing changes “make a new plan Stan.”
Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?
A: Amen to George…I write because I must…writing a book is the easy part – marketing it is the painful illness.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: Never give up – follow that dream – be whatever it is you dreamed you could be no matter your age or place on the planet – just do it!