Linda Watkins, welcome to the Author Spotlight series. I am looking forward to the interview.
Linda Watkins (@splatland on Twitter) was born on the east coast, but grew up in a suburb of Detroit. Upon graduation from college, she moved to San Francisco where she lived and worked for thirty years. Taking early retirement, she packed her bags and moved to an unconnected island off the coast of Maine (Chebeague Island, ME). There, in 2011 she wrote her debut novel, Mateguas Island.
She moved back to Michigan in 2013 and, the following year, both Mateguas Island and its sequel, Return To Mateguas Island , were published.
Mateguas Island has been the recipient of several major awards:
2014 Gold Medal in Supernatural Fiction, READERS’ FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD
2014 First Place Award in Contemporary Gothic, CHANTICLEER BOOK REVIEW, PARANORMAL AWARDS
2015 Outstanding Novel in Horror/Suspense, IAN BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS
In 2015, Return to Mateguas Island was also awarded a First Place in Contemporary Gothic Fiction from the Chanticleer Book Review, Paranormal Awards.
In 2016, the 3rd novel in the series, Ghosts of Mateguas Island, was published.
Today, Linda lives with her two rescue dogs and is at work on a new novel, Summer Girl. She will be moving to Sedona, Arizona in October.
Where to find Linda:
The Linda Watkins Blog can be found here.
Why do you write?
I write mainly for myself. I build and compose all my stories in my mind before I set virtual pen to paper. I don’t outline or make notes. Everything is in my head. I really enjoy where my imagination takes me and it is very energizing and fulfilling to bring the story and characters to life. But I also write to entertain and, hopefully, pass on a message or two.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working right now on a novel entitled Summer Girl. It’s a departure from my previous Mateguas Island series in that there are no paranormal or supernatural elements to the plot. It’s a love story about two kids who meet on July 1st, 1965 on an island off the coast of Maine. The story will be told in two parts – the first from the boy’s point of view, and, the second, from the girl’s.
From where did you draw your inspiration to write your latest book?
If you’re talking about my work in progress, Summer Girl, the inspiration comes from many sources. First, I lived on an island, similar to that depicted in my work and, thus, I know island life quite well. In addition, I was inspired by Abby Geni’s beautiful book, The Lightkeepers. While our stories are completely different, I am hopeful I can, like her, paint a portrait with my words, conveying both plot and mood. Ms. Geni does this expertly in her novel.
Which writers had the most influence on your decision to write?
Shirley Jackson, for sure. Early Stephen King and Peter Straub, both masters of characterization and the horror genre. John Fowles, also. My favorite book of all time is his first edition of The Magus.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Hollow House by Greg Chapman. As a member of the Horror Writers’ Association, I am privileged to have the opportunity to read nominees for the Bram Stoker Awards. Chapman’s Hollow House is one of those. It is an outstanding piece of fiction in the genre.
Do you suffer from writer’s block?
I’m not sure if I’d call it writer’s block, but I do suffer from S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder) and can get very depressed during the winter months. Of note is that all three of my currently published novels were written in the summertime. I am moving to Arizona in October and, hopefully, the abundance of sunlight there will help my productivity!
Biggest frustration as a self-published author?
Not surprisingly, it’s marketing. With Facebook and Twitter constantly limiting your reach, it is hard to get one’s books before a new audience. Luckily, I have landed several BookBub promotions, which have helped in this endeavor.
Reviews for books are vital. Any tips on getting more reviews?
For my last novel, Ghosts of Mateguas, I focused on obtaining several editorial reviews before publication. Since it’s the third book in a series, reviews are even tougher to come by. Folks are happy to review the first book, but don’t bother with the subsequent ones. With Return to Mateguas Island, when I got close to 50 reviews, I shamelessly begged for more on Facebook. As a result, I did achieve the 50-review mark!
Do you use social media? If so, do you like using it?
I am very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Less so on Pinterest, Instagram, etc. While I don’t particularly enjoy the promoting aspect of social media, I am grateful for all the friends I’ve made there who come from all parts of the world.
Who is your biggest fan?
I’d have to say my best friend from high school, Marge LeBel. She gets to read all my stuff before it is published! And, if they could talk, I think my dogs would say they are fans. They get to hear me read my stuff aloud, over and over again, as I edit!
Many people have a bucket list. What is #1 on yours?
I don’t have a bucket list. I suppose I would like to do some more traveling, however, until my two ancient dogs decide it’s time to start they next journey, any travel more than two or three days is out of the question.
Any special message for your readers?
Yes. Many of my readers have expressed the wish for the MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES to continue. I can tell them now that it will! I have the bare bones plot for the fourth full-length novel worked out in my head and have already written the beginning, one spooky scene, and one hot romantic scene! The rest will come later after I finish Summer Girl. In addition, I’ve got the plot to a new Gothic mystery filed away that I want to work on next year. And, yes, like all my books, it will take place on an island!
That was a real pleasure interviewing you, Linda. When you get around to traveling more, come visit me in the Philippines. We have over 7000 islands here!
I believe Linda is somewhat modest in her answer about book reviews. There are now 171 customer reviews for her first novel. Wow!
Amazon Product Listing
From Book 1: What could be more idyllic than to live on an island off the coast of Maine? That’s what Bill Andersen thought when he moved his family to Mateguas. But Mateguas is more than just pristine beaches nestled between rocky shores. No, Mateguas is really something quite different….
“Surprising twists and turns and a powerful old box filled with magic: these are the elements of a fine horror story that slowly builds its plot with believable protagonists and engrossing color…Any who like horror stories and gothic fiction will find Mateguas Island an exceptional read.” ~ Diane Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“In Watkins’s slow-building haunted house novel, the new home that’s supposed to save a disintegrating family turns out to hold horrors from the past…The human drama and supernatural dread intertwine, and Watkins keeps the reader invested in Bill and Karen’s fates.” ~ PUBLISHERS’ WEEKLY
“…a fast-paced and unpredictable story that is both spooky and entertaining. Mateguas Island is an absorbing horror tale and is highly recommended.” ~ Jack Magnus for READERS’ FAVORITE
FIRST PLACE (Contemporary Gothic), 2014 PARANORMAL AWARDS, CHANTICLEER BOOK REVIEW
OUTSTANDING HORROR/SUSPENSE NOVEL, 2015 IAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
2014 GOLD MEDAL in SUPERNATURAL FICTION, READERS’ FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD COMPETITION
2014 HONORABLE MENTION in GENERAL FICTION, HALLOWEEN BOOK FESTIVAL, L.A.
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