Interview with Linda Crowder by Melissa Brooks
Linda Crowder is the author the Caribou King Mysteries series. I interviewed her to learn more about her writing and what inspires her.
1. Have you always been interested in writing?
For as long as I can remember. I wrote a play for a class assignment in fourth grade that was chosen to be performed for a parent night and after hearing my words come to life, I was hooked. I've been writing ever since, though I took a detour into reports, newsletters and grants during my working life. I found my creativity took awhile to return after I retired.
2. What inspired you to start writing mysteries?
I love to read mysteries, love watching them on BBC and trying to guess the killer before it's revealed. I decided to try my hand at writing one, and I found I enjoy putting the puzzle together even more than I'd enjoyed trying to solve it.
3. What is your writing process like? How does writing a story start for you?
I write two very different mystery series, and I try to rotate back and forth between them, one book at a time. My characters in one series "talk" to me while I'm writing the next book in the other series. Sometimes the things they tell me aren't worth writing down, but sometimes I have to stop what I'm doing and write a conversation or set a scene. For the most part, I write in the same order the reader sees the book, but I've usually got a few of these pre-written scenes that I've been working on and insert them when I get to the right point in the story. When I finish the first draft, I go back and flesh out parts of the story that were a little lean the first time around.
4. Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
I've had my first bout of block this past year, because I was focused on moving from Wyoming to Kansas to be near my mother. For seven months, all I thought about was getting the house ready, navigating sale, purchase, moving and unpacking. It drove every ounce of creativity right out of me. The book I'd been working on in the spring was stopped dead in its tracks, and it's been frustrating coming back to it, because I've lost all the momentum. I finally gave up and switched series since I'm way behind on both. That seems to have done the trick.
5. How did the character of Caribou King develop as you wrote her?
I wanted to write about Alaska and, knowing the types of businesses you see in cruise ship ports, owning an art gallery seemed a good job for her. Beyond that, I got to know her as I wrote. She's the first character I've written in first person, so I'm experiencing the world through Cara's eyes. Since we aren't always truthful with ourselves, Cara's view isn't always accurate and that makes it exciting to write. She has no special gift for solving crimes. She's trusting and awkward, but full of optimism and energy. Her journey through each mystery is very personal, as she learns more about herself and becomes a bit sadder but wiser as she goes.
6. What do you love about Alaska?
Alaska combines my two favorite things - mountains and ocean - in a spectacular setting. It's green and lush in the south, with eagles as numerous as sparrows. I was struck by the beauty of Juneau and Sitka in particular, and I didn't want to leave them behind when I came home, so I started to write about them. I'm probably one of the only people who spends port days on cruises talking to year-round residents about what it is to live there when the ships aren't sailing.
7. How does writing the Caribou King series compare to writing the Jake and Emma series?
Caribou's stories have more humor and she's at an earlier, less settled, point in her life. She's still trying to find her way in the world, where Jake and Emma are living a very peaceful and calm life before they started tripping over dead bodies. With them, I ask myself, what would any reasonable person do in this situation. With Cara, you never can tell what she's going to do, because she's at a point in life where she's just figuring things out. There are rules I follow with Jake and Emma, but Cara makes up the rules as she goes.
8. Are you working on anything right now?
I'm working on both series at the moment, which is unusual for me, but life got in the way somewhere in the middle of the new Jake and Emma book. Cara tried to wait, but she burst through and insisted I start her next book, so I suppose Jake and Emma will have to wait.