Linda, welcome! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
Hi, I’m Linda O’Connor, and I’m very excited to be a part of the spotlight on Soul Mate authors. I live in Ontario, Canada and write contemporary romantic comedies. Most of my stories have a medical bent.
Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
My interest in writing developed later in life. I’m a physician and after working with young people, I had the idea to try to incorporate medical advice in a romance novel. I hoped it would be a little bit more appealing that the myriad of educational posters up in my office!
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
I started writing with the goal of getting published about four years ago. I figured it wouldn’t happen right off the bat, but I did everything I could to try to achieve that. Initially, I entered contests and posted my stories on wattpad.com to get feedback. Now I focus on taking workshops, participating in writing groups, and most importantly, I keep writing.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
The first manuscript took about nine months to write. I loved that I could take my time and as the story unfolded in my mind, write it down. Now it’s closer to three months (and fewer dinners are made along the way).
Tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
I prefer silence. I look into space a lot (which has led to a few odd looks when I write on a plane or train) so silence and alone is even better. A friend of mine told me she was going on a ten-day silent meditation retreat. All I could think of was how much writing I could get done at something like that!
What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
My medical career influences my writing. I talk to people for a living so I feel I have an easier time writing engaging dialogue, and I hear about a whole array of people’s experiences, which gives depth to my characters. Delivering a baby (well I’ve delivered a few, but delivering my nephew when I didn’t expect to) crept into my writing. The other scene that was influenced by a real life experience is in Perfectly Honest when Mikaela’s specialty eclipses Sam’s. My husband is a surgeon, and his specialty often garners more interest than mine when we meet someone new. Except once. One day, in the midst of a family doctor shortage, we were at the bank and the two women helping us were so excited that I was a family doctor that my husband’s specialty never came up. I had to chuckle when he mentioned that he’d noticed.
What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
After I wrote my first novel, I gave it to my friend to read. She liked it. That was a shining moment. If she’d have been lukewarm, I wonder if I would have continued to write. Probably not.
Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
Journal – I need the notes for a series.
View of the water –it’s very calming.
Uninterrupted time – because usually I think of the perfect line just as my husband asks me a question about the laundry.
I think I only need 4 things.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
I’m balancing work and family with writing so having protected time to write is vital. I set aside two days a week to write (it used to be one). I won’t schedule any meetings, repairmen, or appointments on those two days. I also try to write first and finish a chapter before spending time on social media and my website.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
I love figuring out the pieces of the puzzle for the storyline. I need my character to do this or experience that – how can I make it happen so it fits with the story and their personality? How can I write it so it’s unique and funny? Those are the challenges I enjoy most.
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Creating conflict that draws the reader in but doesn’t leave them feeling sad.
How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
I start with an idea for the beginning, middle, and end of the story and then develop the characters. I try to get to know them very well, and I have to nail down their names. Male names are the hardest because I don’t want to use my sons’ names or the names of any of their friends. It has to be a completely new person in my head and not remind me of anyone (kind of like naming a child!). I’ve tried to make a detailed plot outline, but the characters often do something unexpected and it goes off the rails. Usually by the fifth chapter I can start to outline in more detail.
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
Right now I’m busy with the “Perfectly” series. Perfectly Honest (Book 1), Mikaela and Sam’s story, is available now. Perfectly Reasonable (Book 2), Margo and Trace’s story will be available this month! I’m currently editing Perfectly Planned (Book 3), Chloe and Rip’s story. Chloe is one of my favorite characters – she’s a bit crazy, but has a heart of gold.
How about some faves of yours?
When I finished Perfectly Honest, I hadn’t realized how ‘Canadian’ I wrote until I entered the manuscript into one of the RWA chapter contests in the United States. The main character, Mikaela, was tired at the end of a long day and agreed to do a favor for a friend, so she stopped on her way home for a double double. Two of the contest judges commented that they had no idea what that was. What?? Canadian babies’ first words are momma, dada and double double. How could you not know what that was? Haha. It’s a coffee – two creams, two sugars. Plus, Mikaela routinely went to the drive thru at Tim Horton’s (our most popular, one-on-every-corner, don’t drive anywhere until you’ve stopped there first, coffee and donut shop) to pick up the double double. One judge wrote, “Who is this Tim Horton? Need to develop his character.” I was going to write back that he’s a relative of Dunkin’!
Since then I’ve learned a few things about writing for an American audience!
Linda’s upcoming release with Soul Mate Publishing, Perfectly Reasonable:
Margo MacMillan finished medical school, but in the process, her self-confidence and self-esteem took a beating. So for the sake of self-preservation, she decided to step away from medicine and re-group. In the meantime, painting soothes her soul and pays the bills.
Trace Bennett set his sights on a medical degree and has to prepare the perfect medical school application. His big plan is to paint his condo for a little feng shui divine luck. When Margo shows up to paint, he realizes he’s found exactly what he’s looking for. He’s got the spark, but she has the heart. He just has to convince her to share more than the art of medicine.
She’s got it. He wants it. It’s Perfectly Reasonable.
Linda, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Thanks for having me – I always enjoy connecting with readers. *grin*
Linda’s gifting a copy of both Perfectly Honest and Perfectly Reasonable! Leave a comment, with your email address in your comment, to be eligible to win one of these wonderful releases.