Linda L. Richards is a true renaissance woman. On top of being a best-selling author, she founded January Magazine in 1997. Her prodigious talents pervade the entire spectrum of the publishing industry.
And yet she remains so nice and humble. That is only one of her many accomplishments, though…
Can you expound a little bit on your role as “a leading expert in electronic book publishing technologies”?
That sounds a bit high falutin', doesn't it? To be honest, that’s less of where my interests are these days. And one could just as easily take the word "electronic" out of there now. The aspects that we identified previously as "electronic" have been pretty firmly absorbed into the publication of books in general.
So, you know, I have been a publisher. I have been an author. I have been a designer. I have taught publishing and self-publishing. I came early to technology and so the geek things slide onto me easily. Wrap all of that together, and you have an expert, pretty much. I've been living and breathing and dreaming books -- their creation, their execution, their marketing -- for several decades.
You are successful both as a journalist and a novelist. What are the distinctive challenges and rewards when writing non-fiction vs fiction?
Once you have developed the writing muscle sufficiently -- like, you've done it a LOT while also reading lots and paying attention -- the writing part comes easily. I can give you 400 publishable words on pretty much any topic with a half hours notice and some resource material available. After a while, and to a certain degree, the non-fiction seems to write itself at this point. Wind me up and point me at my topic.
The fiction is different because you're pulling it out of yourself -- out of the air, in a way. If you don't have a story to tell, you might as well staying home. Or put another way, when it comes to fiction, if you're not being propelled by some sort of fire in your gut there is no reason for you to write fiction. Readers are compelled by your passion and your ability to engage them with that. Without it, fiction has not heart and no point.
You are known for your strong female protagonists. Do you encounter sexism in the mystery field, from publishers, agents, fellow authors, or even fans?
Not that I'm aware of, though it's possible I've steamed past it, unawares. In my career and in my life, I tend to disregard things that aren't germane to my mission. I don't dwell on negatives and focus on positives. It's just how I'm built. (As Pollyanna as that sounds!) And I'm always harping on about perspective and how it changes the view. Don't like what you're seeing? Move over 10 feet and the whole thing looks different.
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
I've been doing this so many years. It's all so layered now! Writers: Stephen King. Margaret Atwood. James Michener. Virginia Woolf. Vladimir Nabokov. Raymond Chandler. Margaret Laurence. Earnest Hemingway. Taylor Caldwell. Dashiell Hammett. Shirley Jackson. A whole crew of others who have given me journeys that altered my course and paragraphs and ideas that have stopped me in my tracks.
What’s next for you?
I'm in the very final stages of editing a novel I'm not talking about yet and have another I'll jump on soon, as well. Both crime fiction and outside of previous series. One is written from the first person perspective of a man, which should be interesting in this time of cultural appropriation. (Is it okay for me to write in a man's voice? Don't answer that. I'm doing it anyway.)
I've also just started working on a non-fiction book about elephant seals. It's aimed at early teens -- tweens? -- and I'm so enjoying that journey.
Linda L. Richards is a journalist, photographer and the author of 15 books, including three series of novels featuring strong female protagonists. She is the former publisher of Self-Counsel Press and the founder and publisher of January Magazine. Richards is currently based in Vancouver, Canada, but you can find her wherever her laptop decides to rest for awhile.
PHOTO: LINDA L. RICHARDS