A fifth generation Texan, Lynda has hopped across literary and geographic boundaries in her writing career. She's been a freelance journalist, travel writer, ghostwriter, restaurant and film reviewer, copywriter, college professor, book collaborator, and nonfiction author while living/writing/studying in Chicago, San Diego, New Orleans, Madrid, and lots of other heres and theres around the globe.
As a freelance journalist, she's petted baby rhinos, snorkeled with endangered sea turtles, hang-glided off a small Swiss mountain, dodged hurricanes, and interviewed the famous and not-so-famous to write dozens of articles for national and international magazines, newspapers and travel guides, her travel photographs often appearing with her work. She's also crafted collaborative book-length nonfiction with people from all walks of life as well as a list of special charities and organizations such as the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park for which she's shown below doing an interview.
Her creative writing, though, has always been the love of her writing life and the stuff of her literary dreams. She holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and has won awards and residencies from the Illinois Arts Council, Writers League of Texas, Ragdale Foundation, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Squaw Valley Community of Writers as well as juried attendance to Sewanee Writers Conference among others.
Currently, she is behaving herself in front of her computer screen in the hill country outside Austin, pursuing those pesky literary pretensions as she enjoys her debut novel with Putnam's Amy Einhorn Books. [Pause for a deeply-felt Hallelujah
What word do you love?
“Sycamore.” Love the sound. Love the tree.
What word do you detest?
“Impact” as a verb, i.e. “impacted.” Am I the only one who thinks of the dentist when hearing that?
What is a little known fact about yourself?
I was a Class A racquetball player in my 20s. My knees still cuss me.
What are three things in your writing space that would surprise someone who popped in?
A portrait of me and a giraffe. A rebounder trampoline thingy. And a stand-up desk.
What books first influenced you as a child?
Every Superman comic book from my Dad's drugstore, and every Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew mystery in my small town’s Carnegie Public Library––all of which led me to Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and beyond. Thanks, Superman, Nancy, and you Hardy boys, you.
Did you want to be a writer growing up?
I was too busy trying to break my little tomboy neck. In grade school, I wanted to be the first girl shortstop for the New York Yankees. In high school, I wanted to play tennis at Wimbledon. By college, I wanted to be an artist. I found, though, that I was better at being a failed artist. The one thing I had done through it all was read. That’s when it hit me that every book I was reading for the college literature courses I kept taking--in fact, every book I'd read my entire life--was written by a real person, not a literary god of some sort. So I took a creative writing course and was hooked. Over the years, as I made a living working with words and seeing the world, I kept playing with them, creating worlds as well. There’s more than one way to be an artist; writers paint with words, don’t we?
Your novel's opening line is fun. What’s your favorite opening line of a book?
I just taught a conference craft course on first lines, so I have a dozen favorites. But the one that always springs to mind is the opening of the paragraph-long first sentence of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” That’s classic because of its universal truth, graceful beauty, terrific foreshadowing, and catchy syntax. You can’t beat that; no one has for close to 200 years. And I’m perpetually jealous.
If you could have a beer or coffee with a writer living or dead, who would it be and why?
Flannery O’Connor. That woman must have been a hoot.
Beer or coffee?
Coffee (with maybe a little Bailey’s if she’s having a beer.)
What life lessons did the experience of writing and publishing a novel teach you?
Persevere; quit when you must; start over; try not to be tortured. And most of all: Have a sense of humor about everything or die young and wrinkly.