The fascinating and wonderful Linda Rettstatt is a guest on the blog today. And I’m over on her blog, One Woman’s Write. Please give Linda a warm welcome!
Annabel Aidan: As a fellow theatre professional, I immediately gravitated to the information you used to review plays. I remember how nerve-wracking it is to open a play on Broadway and know how much those critics decide if you still have a job tomorrow or not. And how heartbreaking it could be when a reviewer with a personal axe to grind went after someone on the creative team or the cast. But there were also a lot of reviewers who loved the art and craft, and who had terrific insights that were helpful to both us and the audience. What was the most exciting part about being a reviewer, and what was the hardest?
Linda Rettstatt: Well, to put this in context, I grew up in a very small town in southwestern Pennsylvania. Everyone knew everyone else. And on a good day, the local paper was twelve pages. The community theater group was comprised of all local folks. So, obviously, I had to tread lightly. I loved stepping back and critically observing the performances. The hardest part was writing an objective review without slighting anyone and finding a way to be honest without hurting feelings. (After all, I had to pass these folks on the street the next day.)
AA: Again, in your information, I’m drawn to the fact that you write with both humor and hope. Why do you think those two elements are so important?
LR: My career background is in clinical social work, and I worked as psychotherapist for a number of years. I discovered (though I’m sure I’m not the first to know this ☺) that a number of people who presented themselves with symptoms of depression were lacking a few things in their lives—a creative element, humor, and hope. I think we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves and we definitely need to feel hopeful about the future. I can find humor in the most dire situations—something that can get me into trouble when I laugh inappropriately when others are somber.
AA: In AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE and in THE YEAR I LOST MY MIND, your heroines are in their fifties. As someone approaching fifty myself, I’m delighted to see heroines with some life experience out there. Did you meet any resistance when you shopped the book? Were you ever encouraged to make your heroines younger? Or do you think the tide is turning for the majority of heroines having to be young and inexperienced?
LR: When I began to write, I started with what I knew. And I knew about being a woman of fifty-something. In many ways, And The Truth Will Set You Free is a fantasy biography, if you will. Kate’s story is as I had once imagined my own story and the dream to relocate to New England and write. Also, I’ve done a lot of work with women dealing with mid-life issues. So it seemed natural for me, when writing women’s fiction to address those issues in my books. I received a wonderful response to those books and the characters. I have, however, written stories of younger characters such as Claire in Pieces (thirties) and Lily in Renting to Own who is a 23-year-old single mother.
AA: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
LR: The rush that comes with that initial idea for a story and then meeting the character in my head. The newness of a story is like falling in love, and I will typically spend two or three days working for ten to twelve hours straight at that point. Sometimes I forget to eat (but then I make up for it!)
AA: What do you do on the days when it’s hard to put butt in chair and get it done?
LR: I don’t have many of those days. But when I feel stuck, I will sometimes take a drive and have a heart-to-heart chat with my characters. They will usually lead me out of that blind alley. If anything, I have to sometimes force myself to shut down the laptop and socialize with friends for a while. I can become a bit of a hermit when I’m writing.
AA: What do you feel is the most joyful part of your writing life as a whole?
LR: Seeing my books in print, of course, is one (both electronically and in paperback). But I love to chat with readers and hear from women about how my stories impact their lives. I’ve had women write and say, “Kate’s story in And the Truth Will Set You Free is my story. I didn’t feel so alone after reading the book.” And I had a woman who had been a single mother tell me that I nailed her experience in telling Lily’s story in Renting to Own. I want my stories to give women strength, love, humor, and hope.
Linda Rettstatt is the author of nine women’s fiction and mainstream romance novels. Her work is published with Champagne Books, Class Act Books, and Wings ePress. She is a Pennsylvania Yankee currently residing in Northwest Mississippi, not far from Memphis, where she has yet to report an Elvis sighting. Her books have finaled three times for EPIC e-Book Awards, and she was named 2010 Author of the Year by Champagne Books. You can find Linda on the web at www.lindarettstatt.com and at www.onewomanswrite.blogspot.com