Today I’m incredibly excited to be interviewing Linda MacDonald Author of Meeting Lydia
Welcome Linda, please tell us a little about yourself and your book.
I am a retired psychology teacher, originally from Cumbria and now living in Beckenham in south-east London. I’ve always loved to write as a sideline and completed two full length novels over a period of twenty years during my early working life. I call these my practice novels. In the back of my mind I’d always wanted to write a book about the long-term effects of childhood bullying. But I didn’t have a plot until 2001 (see below for the inspiration!)
What inspired you to create Meeting Lydia?
I began writing Meeting Lydia in 2001 after an encounter with a former classmate via the internet. He was in the same class as me when we were nine. I was the only girl in the class and I was bullied. He was the only boy who was never horrible to me. Reconnecting with him somehow laid the ghosts of the past to rest: ghosts that had haunted most of my adult life. Soon after, I was struck with the idea for Meeting Lydia. I thought, if I spice up the reality and create a childhood crush situation, I may have a novel here; a novel about childhood bullying, midlife crises and internet relationships.
Your main character Marianne suffered bullying at school. What made you write about this topic in your book? What is your take on the effects of bullying long after school ends.
I dreaded school when I was young. On Sunday nights I used to feel sick at the thought of what the forthcoming week might bring. Although I loved learning, the bits in between lessons were often a nightmare. Things began to get better by the time I was eleven, but the damage had been done and lurked in the background throughout my teenage and adult life.
Recent research suggests that bullying has long-term effects on most people, particularly on self-esteem. This may then affect relationships, academic achievement and even career prospects. In recognising this, I believe more needs to be done to address the issue. By writing about it in a novel, I hoped to create discussion with view to finding solutions. But it is in the nature of most animals to establish a pecking order – and in the case of humans, to bully. That is why it is so difficult to eradicate.
Do you think if Marianne’s husband would have been more open with his feelings that she would have gone in search of Lydia?
That’s an interesting question Katrina – and one I’ve not considered before because if she hadn’t gone looking for Lydia, there would have been no book! However, irrespective of Johnny sharing his feelings, I believe once Marianne discovered Friends Reunited, she would have searched for Lydia. Whether she would have become so involved, though – perhaps not.
Did you have a favourite place you like to go while creating your book?
Mostly I create on a desk-top computer so that defines where I am. I need to feel nice and cosy. I wrote Meeting Lydia while I was still teaching so much of it was done late at night. But I often work on plotting ideas and even dialogue when I’m taking a break and walking outside. The natural world is inspirational and even though I’m in south-east London, there’s a copse behind where I live. It’s full of lovely trees and there are birds, squirrels and foxes which I’m much more likely to see during the day than if I were in the country.
Describe what your Muse looks like to you in three words.
Looks are not important to me Muse-wise! However, my Muse is charismatic, enigmatic and has integrity.
Meeting Lydia is in audiobook. Tell us a little about the process you went though creating your audiobook.
I adapted the original print novel to make it suitable for audio. In particular, I shortened or removed the email headers as these can be scanned when reading the print book, but would have been tedious to listen to in an audiobook. It was then handed over to Essential Music to produce and publish. Once Harriet Carmichael completed the narration, it was edited and then chapters were sent to me to proof check. It’s possible to do the whole thing independently, but this requires some technical expertise and significant skill as a reader. There’s no way I could have brought it to life as Harriet has done.
I have recently written an article for the Self-Publishing Magazine on producing an audiobook. Here’s the link: https://www.selfpublishingmagazine.co.uk/audiobook-indie-author-i-learned/
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you be and why?
Holly – Marianne’s daughter. She’s 18 and on the threshold of adulthood. She’s had a great childhood and is a strong, confident young woman. If I could re-live my life, I would like to see what would have happened without the bullying.
Are you a planner or discovery writer?
Both. I like to know what the end will be before I start to write. And also a few key happenings along the way that will make it an interesting plot. However, my characters have so far been very willful and sometimes take the lead in the direction they wish to go.
Which character did you like writing about the most? Why?
Taryn – Marianne’s best friend. She started out in the background as someone on whom Marianne could offload. But when they met – quite late on in the novel – she became far more than the clichéd ‘kooky’ friend that one finds in many books and films. I loved writing her pithy comments and her take on men. So much so that she becomes one of the main characters in the stand-alone sequel, A Meeting of a Different Kind. I wanted to know why she was the way she was – and I knew she had the capacity to cause mayhem in other people’s lives. Perfect fodder for fiction!
Who are your favourite Authors?
Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, David Lodge, Fay Weldon, Margaret Atwood, Kate Atkinson … Yet some of my favourite books are not by these authors: Life of Pi; The Magus; Gentleman and Players; Engleby …
What was the best advice you’ve ever had while working on your book?
“Your novels are about people, yet there are no people on the covers.” I’ve rectified that with the Audiobook and the forthcoming The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. I’ve always known covers were important, but I didn’t know how best to convey the type of books I was writing. I made the mistake of being too subtle. My cover designer has done an excellent job on these latest two pieces of work.
What projects are you working on next?
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is the fourth novel of the Lydia series. It also stands alone and is about psychological abuse, emotional infidelity and the difficulty of leaving a long-term destructive relationship. It is due out in May although the ebook will probably be released before that.
I would very much like to bring out my second novel – A Meeting of a Different Kind – as an audiobook. It continues where Meeting Lydia ends, but from the perspectives of Edward ad Taryn, telling their stories, but also including what happens next with Marianne. Having heard Harriet Carmichael’s interpretation of Taryn in the audiobook of Meeting Lydia, I can’t wait to hear what she would do with her in the turbulent scenes in A Meeting of a Different Kind
Do you have any advice for fellow writers who maybe undertaking creating their first book at this very moment?
Patience and persistence. Think ‘North Pole’: one step after another and you will eventually get there. Turn off the rubbish on TV and write a hundred words. Very often, once you do that, you will write a hundred more.
Any final words you would like to add?
Thank you very much Katrina for hosting me on your blog. I’ve very much enjoyed answering your questions and look forward to connecting with your readers.
Book Title – Meeting Lydia
Publisher – Matador (paperback and ebook) Essential Music (Audiobook)
Twitter – @LindaMac1
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/MeetingLydia/?modal=survey_dialog&survey_id=364441543939123
Your Author Website – Web page at Troubador http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=1462
Links to Books
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Linda-MacDonald/e/B00884ATWE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Thank-you Linda for taking time to do this blog interview, it has been a real pleasure to hear about your novel, Meeting Lydia. I wish you well with your novel and all other writing projects you may undertake in the future.
My Review Of Meeting Lydia By Linda McDonald.
Meeting Lydia was a very interesting and somewhat an emotional Journey for Marianne as she comes to terms with getting older, and her feeling of the bullying she suffered as a child that still affected her life as an adult. This along with her husband’s lack of attention to her emotional needs prompts her to go in search of Lydia’s distant comfort from her school days.
I also found her daughter Holly to be a very likeable character who is strong and open and also travelling down a different road herself. While trying to deal with the clear distance between her mum and dad.
I found the topic of bullying and how it doesn’t always end when those bullying stop very interesting and the fact that when she searched out Lydia, it had a profound effect on how she felt about the pain from those days she had in her heart after they made contact. Will Marianne ever meet Lydia? Or reconnect with her husband? Get this Audible book to find out.
I would recommend this book if you like stories about relationships, finding oneself and stories with interesting characters.