Interview with Linda Clayton by Melissa Brooks

Linda Clayton and her family lived abroad for over thirty years, which has given her plenty of inspiration. She was a successful portrait painter but was also always writing. She is the author of the Julia Greene Travel Mysteries. I interviewed her to find out more about her writing, her inspiration, and what she is working on now.

1. What inspired you to start writing mysteries?

I’ve always loved mysteries. I suppose it began with the Nancy Drew books. I devoured them as a kid, and all my early attempts at writing were bad imitations of my favorites.

2. What is your writing process like? How does writing a story start for you?

I write the whole book from beginning to end in my head—usually when I’m walking the dogs. My kids say they know I’m writing if they see me strolling along with my head down. Then I jot down everything in a notebook and later put it all on the computer.

3. Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block. If I run into what feels like a dead end, I can usually find a way out of it.

4. How did your travels contribute to your writing of the Julia Greene Travel Mysteries?

My family and I lived overseas for thirty-five years. We lived in four different countries and traveled everywhere. There is so much to see in this world and so many exciting people to meet. I love turning some of my favorite trips and experiences into Julia Greene Travel Mysteries.

5. Why did you choose Iceland and a cruise for the locations in the 2 books?

Iceland is probably one of the best places I’ve ever visited. It’s exotic and primitive and surreal and invigorating. And being on a bus tour with a group of strangers with different personalities and quirks gave me so much, well…fodder, for a book. I love cruises—especially to Alaska. It’s one of the places I’ve visited four times. Again, there are lots of intriguing people on ships, so there are lots of opportunities to invent adventures for characters.

6. How did the characters of Julia Greene and her best friend, Olivia, develop as you wrote them? What was your inspiration for them?

My kids say I’m Julia Greene, which I’m not, but I think they say that because I write in the first person. Maybe, if I’m being honest, I’d say there is a little bit of me in her. But I’m not nearly that reckless, and I could never run a lunchroom because no one would eat my food. I like that Julia has had to pick herself up and carry on after the death of her husband. I’d like to see her once again in a serious relationship but not right now. Olivia is the antithesis of Julia because I think the heroine always needs a foil. She’s pretty, attracts men, and is not nearly as serious as Julia. They work well together.

7. Are you working on anything right now?

I actually have two projects in the works. The immediate one is a new Julia travel mystery. This time she doesn’t go far afield—only to South Carolina, where she finds plenty of trouble. The one swirling in my head is about Julia in Marrakesh, Morocco. I’ve been conflicted about putting Julia in a country not many people know about because I’m not sure readers would like that, hence the South Carolina setting. Marrakesh is exciting and colorful and will make a fun book—I hope.