Monday, January 26, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Linda Hall

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Linda Hall
with Linda Hall

We are delighted to welcome novelist Linda Hall to Omnimystery News today.

Linda's new series introduces yacht delivery captain Em Ridge in Night Watch (October 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the chance to catch up with her to talk more about it.

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Omnimystery News: A yacht delivery captain, that's a new character for us! Tell us more about Em Ridge and what it is about her that appeals to you as a writer.

Linda Hall
Photo provided courtesy of
Linda Hall

Linda Hall: Em Ridge has been in my thinking for a long time. All during the time I wrote six romantic suspense novels for Harlequin, she was there and begging to have her stories written. Em is mid-thirties, lives in Maine and is a boat delivery captain. What that means is that she delivers boats, usually rich people's yachts from Point A to Point B. She often gets hired to deliver boats from New England to the Caribbean, but she has made a number of trips across the ocean and down into South America. Almost two years before Night Watch begins, her husband was killed in a kayak accident. She is trying to put the pieces of her life together in this first book.

Em Ridge is sort of my alter ego. I love sailing and we're on our boat most of the summer, but my husband will tell you that I'm sort of a scaredy cat when it comes to storms and things going wrong with the boat. Em is not. Em is brave and capable and strong and can climb up onto the bow in 30 knot winds and free a tangled sail. She can climb up the mast and fix a knotted halyard. Em even enjoys a 30 degree heel on a sailing dinghy in heavy winds.

But she does have a vulnerable side. Since her husband died, she feels lost and alone most of the time. Even though she is brave, she doesn't feel brave. She doesn't feel strong. She doesn't know what the future will bring, and wonders if her job as delivery captain will really pay the bills. Will she find love again? Does she even want to?

OMN: How do you expect Em to change over the course of the series?

LH: Em will grow. Yes, she will age. I have plans for Em. Just as Em delivers yachts from Point A to Point B, I have an entire story arc which will move Em from Point A in Night Watch to Point B in books to come. Right now I'm working on the next book in the series which will see Em "grow" just a little bit more.

OMN: Give us a summary of Night Watch in a tweet.

LH: For yacht delivery captain, Em Ridge, having a billionaire's daughter go overboard on her first captaining job is not a good beginning.

OMN: Where do you usually find yourself writing?

LH: I have a lovely office at home with plenty of bookshelves, a full size window, huge monitor, and where do I get my best writing done? Coffee shops with all the background noise or with my laptop precariously perched on my lap while I sit outside on decks (in the summertime) or covered with a blanket in my living room (in the wintertime.)

If I'm home and in my beautiful office and just can't seem to focus, I know it's time to get dressed, pack up my MacBook Pro and head out to the nearest coffee shop. I don't know quite what it is, but there's something about the ambient noise that helps me focus in.

OMN: The book is set in Maine. How true are you to the setting?

LH: Setting is everything in Night Watch. I have located Em in a cottage out on the end of Chalk Spit Island, a tidal island near Portland, Maine. Nope. No such place exists. I wanted her near Portland because I wanted to use some of the landmarks there, but I need her to live on an island. Since there isn't one there, I reconfigured the map and drew one in.

This is something that authors often do — mix fiction with reality. The ocean, however, is real. I love the ocean with its moods, its tides, its storms. When you're out in a storm there is absolutely nothing you can do to still the storm. You must wait it out. If you find yourself in a storm on land, you can drive to the nearest hotel. Way out in the ocean? Not possible. I wanted to convey some of that in the Em Ridge mysteries. Away from land, you realize your own frailness, smallness and mortality.

And yet, in its calmer moments, the ocean is the most beautiful place on the planet. Some of the most gorgeous sunsets and sunrises are experienced on the ocean.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your books?

LH: How lovely of you to ask. While my vocation is writing, my eternal avocation is music. I sing in two choirs in my city, and about every other week I take my guitar and off I go to sing at the nursing home for an hour. I get to sing whatever I want to there, so it's great fun. In my life I've been in various bands and music groups, sung my share of open mikes and karaokes, and basically go to concerts when I can. By nature I'm an introvert, but put a guitar in my hand and I'll sing for the queen.

But, having said all that, so far, music hasn't played a big role in my books. I really don't know why that is. Maybe I'll devote a few short stories to it in the future.

OMN: How did the book come to be titled?

LH: The name Night Watch is derived from the traditional "watch" system on the old sailing ships. In order to keep the boat on course throughout a 24 hour period, a system of five four-hour watches was put into place. This made sure that there was someone at the helm at all times. Although there isn't a specific "watch" called the night-watch, (I took a few liberties there), the idea is that the event which begins the story happened in the night. As well, her husband's kayak accident was during the night.

Book #2 will be called The Bitter End, which is another nautical term. It literally means coming to the end of your physical rope on the boat, with nothing more to hang onto.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

LH: I read mysteries. When I was a child I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys under my covers at night with a flashlight way past the time when I should have been asleep. When I was in high school I was particularly drawn to Edgar Allan Poe. When I was in my mid-teens I memorized The Raven. It wasn't a school assignment, it was just something I wanted to do. I've always enjoyed dark stuff — Stephen King, Poe, and others. I remember absolutely loving the gothic writing of Victoria Holt. I'm fascinated by mysteries and ghosts, and plan to do more paranormal writing in the future.

I have a book of short stories out — Strange Faces, and a few of the offerings verge on the paranormal. My book Sadie's Song (an older book which I have since revised and indie published) has a paranormal element.

OMN: And today, when selecting a book to read for pleasure, what do you look for?

LH: I look for a book with a plot. I have no time for books which seem to go on and on. I want a book with a definite beginning, middle and end.

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Linda Hall has written twenty mystery novels plus numerous short stories. Prior to her first book being published, she was a journalist and news reporter. At that time she also wrote curriculum for adult literacy programs in western Canada. She has written eighteen novels for traditional publishers like WaterBrook Press, Random House and Harlequin. Last year she decided to go it alone, and is now Indie publishing her mysteries and stories. She loves the freedom and control this brings.

Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. She grew up in New Jersey and it's along it's shorelines that her love of the ocean was born. No vacation was ever complete unless it includes water. She married someone who shares her love of water and during the summer they basically move aboard their 34' sailboat aptly named Mystery, and sail down from their home in New Brunswick, Canada and along the coast of Maine. Linda has achieved the rank of Senior Navigator, the highest rank possible in the national boating safety organization, CPS. Her Senior Navigator diploma hangs proudly on her office wall. What this means is that she knows how to use a sextant and can theoretically find her way home by looking at the stars — the operative word being "theoretically."

She and her husband Rik have two grown children, seven grandchildren and one very spoiled cat named Captain Hook who sails with them.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at WriterHall.com and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Night Watch by Linda Hall

Night Watch
Linda Hall
An Em Ridge Mystery

Desolate Maine shores … Murder … And peace slipping away on the outgoing tide …

For yacht delivery captain, Em Ridge, having a billionaire's daughter go overboard on her first captaining job is not a good beginning. The sailboat is new, state of the art, her crew on this trip include two close sailing friends. But an unknown fourth, who can't even tie a bowline, and the unruly owner's daughter turn the idyllic trip into an adventure not wanted.

Two years ago Em buried her husband, her soulmate, her sailing buddy, and with him buried a secret. As hours on the open seas slide by, secrets are resurrected that tie Em's past to a present, awash with murder and deception.

Will Em's career go overboard? Will the investigating detective help her or hurt her? Any why does the best boat delivery captain on the east coast pull at her heart strings?

The oft foggy coast of Maine holds secrets it does not want to give up, and a lot of bodies can be hidden in The Pine Tree State's largest city.

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)  BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format

8 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview! And I nodded my head when I read that you often find it hard to write in your lovely, quiet office. There's nothing like the noise and bustle of the cafe!

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  2. That is so right, Norah! I keep decorating my office to make it lovely for myself, and then to actually get writing done, I don't use it.

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  3. Great interview, Linda! I'm delighted you're setting out on series the idea for which has nested in your mind for some time while you worked on other projects. After reading "Strange Faces" I know "Night Watch" will be a success.

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    1. Thanks Gail - yes, Poor Em has been a part of my thinking for a long time. I'm happy to finally bring her to light.

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  4. Linda, I love your interview, and I really relate to your adolescent reading material (I spent hours beneath the covers with a flashlight and Nancy D. myself). NIGHT WATCH is a great story; as a drylander, I am so moved by the way you immerse me as a reader in the culture of the sea. The plot is gripping, and I can't wait for your next novel in the series!

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    1. Thank you so much, Deb! This means a lot to me coming from you.

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  5. I finish reading about twenty to thirty novels a year, so I am a bit picky in choosing my selections, which have to grab my attention from page one. I could hardly put down NIGHT WATCH and thought it was an excellent read. I really look forward to reading the Bitter End.

    This was a great interview. I enjoy learning more about the authors of stories I really enjoyed reading. The author's knowledge of sailing is obvious in EM, who came across to me as a believable character, who is a bit vulnerable, somewhat cautious, but determined to find answers, whenever the need arises. I agree with the author's statement that EM is brave, but does not feel brave. That was one perception I had of the character while reading the book. EM, is one of those characters you look forward to reading again because you want her life to turn out well, but you know her journey will entail many challenges, both physically and emotionally. If the second book is as good as the first one in this series, I will be hooked for the duration and Linda Hall will be added to my list of favorite authors, along with Michael Connelly, Steve Martini, John Grisham, J.A. Jance, and Jeffery Archer.

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  6. Thanks so much Jim! I'm pleased you enjoyed Night Watch. I'm working hard on the second book - but it's always a scary prospect - will the next book be as good as the first one? Always a scary prospect for an author.

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