I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, “Let’s pretend.”
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl.
How long have you been writing?
Since I am an educator, I’ve been writing in one way or another all of my adult life. I started writing fiction about six years ago.
What attracted you to writing?
I had a wonderful creative writing teacher my senior year of high school. I loved the class, but when I got to college, writing to meet the academic requirements of a history degree took over. Later, the writing became secondary reading curriculum and other forms related to education. I have now come full circle back to fiction. It has all been a wonderful journey!
What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love the creative process and the research. Feeling the words flow is something akin to giving birth to a child. It is a wonderful feeling.
What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I hate, hate, hate editing! It is such an evil chore, necessary, but evil all the same. I dislike it so much because my mind automatically transforms the worst gobble-de-gook into intelligible English. I suppose it comes from years of reading students’ terrible handwriting, mangled spelling and all. As an assistant principal charged with keeping the peace, it is vital that I be able to read gang writing and students’ statements and notes. Great for learning what a gang member plans to do to a rival, but murder on the editing eye.
How do you respond to a negative review?
I don’t. Ever. Period. End of discussion.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: “History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire
If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?
Rather than name actual actors, I think the parts of Mary Catherine and Gustavo might best be played by a type that I can only describe. The actors should appear to be in their late teens to early twenties. Mary Catherine would be played by a modern day Gene Tierney – beautiful and cool under pressure. Think of her portrayal in the movie Laura. Gustavo should be a young Antonio Banderas. He is still devastatingly handsome, but too old for the part. SIGH!
CONFEDERADO NORTE – OUT JULY 2014
Mary Catherine is devastated when her family immigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately marrying the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem assured until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but the latest crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she posseses simply to survive.
Excerpt from Confederado do Norte
I dreamt the dream again last night. In the small hours, I awoke in a tumble of bedclothes and bathed in perspiration despite the howling snowstorm blanketing the city. I rearranged quilts and plumped pillows, but sleep remained elusive. My mind refused to be quiet.
As often happens after such a night, I felt unable to rise at my usual hour and remained abed long after the maids cleared breakfast from the morning room. My daughter-in-law, bless her heart, meant well. I told her it was ridiculous to bring the doctor out on such a frigid day, but apparently the very old, like the very young, are not to be trusted in matters of judgment. After the doctor listened to my chest, a studied sympathy filled his eyes and he gently suggested that perhaps I should get my affairs in order. No doubt he wondered at my smile for he couldn’t have known I have no affairs other than my memories and the emotions they engender.
Unlike most elderly persons, I don’t revel in slogging through the past. It isn’t wrapped in pretty ribbons or surrounded by a golden aura. Instead, its voices haunt my dreams, demanding and accusatory. Until recently, I’ve resisted their intrusion into my waking life, but I now believe the past can no longer remain buried in nocturnal visions. It must be brought out into the light of day. From its earliest moments onward, the past’s substance must be gouged out, pulled apart, and examined bit by bit until its truth is exposed. While total objectivity may not be possible, I have concluded that committing the past to paper is my best hope for sorting facts from imaginings. Perhaps then I will achieve the peace that has so long hidden its face from me.
You see, when I was quite young—only a girl really—I killed four people. Two were dearly beloved, one was a hated enemy, and the last was a dangerous criminal.
Books by Linda Pennell
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel now available from Soul Mate Publishing and Amazon.com
Where to find Linda: