Linda Mitchelmore is another Choc Lit author I have had the recent pleasure of reading, and followed up with some questions about her work and processes. Some interesting answers and great motivations.
HI Linda, welcome to Beauty and Lace. Thanks for chatting with us.
What made you want to be a writer?
Without wishing for anyone to get their violins out here….I started to write when I lost my hearing. It was something I could do while the rest of the family watched TV or listened to music which were both denied me through the deafness.
Why do you choose to write Historicals?
When I first started writing it didn’t cross my mind to write historical romance to begin with. I started with short stories (and some journalism around the same time) as they are immediate and I discovered I liked writing them, especially in first person, present tense. I struck up a great online relationship with a sub-editor at My Weekly, called Jean Haxton, and she commissioned me to write a short serial set in 1906. I thought I’d have a go, Jean told me that this was my ‘writing voice’ and that I ought to turn the serial into a novel. So…..I was off!
How did your road to publication unfold?
Quite quickly to begin with in that the first short story competition I entered I became a prize winner, and saw my story published. The next two stories I wrote sold right away – Best and Woman. And then I had an awesome amount of rejections and put the successes down to beginners’ luck. But with the deafness thing I had to do something other than just sit in a chair with a glum face feeling out of things so I persevered. Precis version is …..short story writing course, novel writing course, joined RNA’s new writers’ scheme, had some very nice rejection letters from agents who liked my style but declined to take me on, submitted to Choc Lit and …..two full length novels and two novellas down with them, with other things in the wings. I’ve really enjoyed the journey – rejections and all.
Can you tell us a little about your latest release Emma There’s No Turning Back?
This book is the sequel to TO TURN FULL CIRCLE. It is the continuing story of Emma Le Goff who, at the beginning of the story, finds that her life still isn’t going as smoothly as she would like, despite her best efforts. But she is no quitter, and when the local vicar refuses to marry her and her childhood sweetheart, Seth Jago, because of their respective family histories, Emma hatches a plan. But it doesn’t quite go the way she wants it to, especially when the charismatic, Matthew Caunter, makes a reappearance in her life. To go to Canada with Seth as he wants her to? Or not? I’m afraid you’ll have to read the book to find out… EMMA: There’s No Turning Back is the second in my trilogy……and I am working away on the the third right now.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I began Emma’s story after researching some family history for my husband, whose forebears fished out of Brixham. One of his great uncles was badly injured and his boat wrecked and he and his family had to move back in with his parents. It got me thinking …in a time when most people lived in rented or tied accommodation …about what would happen to the wives and children if the breadwinner lost his job/life.
When I’m writing short stories the inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere – a picture, a stranger who is beautifully dressed (or the opposite), a waft of perfume on the air, eating ice cream….I’ve always had a vivid imagination even before I started writing.
Do you thnk situations like the one Emma found herself in were common in her times?
Very, very common, alas. Women had few rights, and children were seen and not heard. Emma is not yet sixteen years old when her story begins and her ‘class’ had few opportunities in the Westcountry except to go into service or do shop work. While we are horrified, today, to see and hear about child abuse a lot of it went on back then, too. If people couldn’t afford to pay a doctor then they got old wives’ treatments or none at all. And don’t get me started on the lack of labour-saving devices….I doubt anyone reading this has ever lived without a vacuum cleaner or a fridge. Tough times, but as the saying has it, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ and my Emma certainly does that.
What can you tell us about your process? Do you plot or prefer to let the characters drive the story?
I am a seat-of-the-pantster! I start with an emotion and a problem – for Emma it was bereavement, illness, and then homelessness – and I go from there. How does my character deal with it? Who helps her? Who hinders her? And how she eventually achieves her goal is told through those characters.
Do you have a favourite time or place to write?
I have always worked best in the morning…..seven o’ clock starts are the best for me. And I use the smallest, box-room, bedroom in which to write which my husband fitted out for me with a kitchen counter worktop the length of a long wall which is perfect – cheap and does the job. But I’m finding I also quite like working for an hour or two in the afternoon, just before the light fades. However, if there is a deadline, or lots of edits to do then I can write any time at all.
Is there anything new you’re working on that you can tell us about?
I’ve got a contemporary novella on the go at the moment. It’s something I started with the idea of submitting it as a serial to a magazine but didn’t get around to it. So I’m expanding it to fit novella length. I’ve also signed a contract with Choc Lit on a full length contemporary novel called, RED IS FOR RUBIES. I’m yet to do the edits on that but I’m quite excited at the thought of a full length contemporary novel of mine out there….think Thursdays in the Park, but set in Devon.
What does being a woman mean to you?
I am no women’s-libber….I think both sexes have their strengths and their weaknesses and the best we can do is sort our weaknesses and make the most of our strengths. That said, women’s fashions are generally much nicer, aren’t they?
Thanks for your time Linda, I will definitely be on the lookout for the the next Emma novel and good luck with Red is For Rubies.