Let’s welcome Linda back to the Scribbler.
She has been a guest previously with an interview and if you missed it, please go HERE.
She has kindly agreed to share the Story Behind the Story.
It’s all yours, Linda……
I've been a closet writer for most of my adult life, but I shared my work with very few people over the years. I’ve always loved to read and am interested in many diverse topics. I am fascinated by different cultures—their unique spiritual perspectives, religious practices, beliefs, customs, and how much they have to teach us.
In 2019, I somehow knew I needed to share what I had written, so I published my first book, Release Me, a book of poetry. Next, I expanded my themes, characters, and ideas into short stories for my second book, Save the Sinner. Now, I am going even further and writing my first novel, Soul Collector, based on my short story of the same title and published in Save the Sinner.
And this year, I was so surprised, humbled, and honored to have won the Bronze Award for the 2022 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program, in the Short Story/Anthology category, for this book.
As an emerging author, trying to reach as many readers as possible is challenging. Having been selected for this award has given me a great deal of encouragement and validates my efforts.
About the Book: Save the Sinner is my unique mix of poetry and short stories. Throughout the book, I delve into the soul’s journey toward peace and examine how we, as humans, react to pain, grief, love, longing, and despair. Even though my characters range from two friends lunching at their favorite café, to a soul-stealing gypsy, passionate vampires, and beings from other worlds and other dimensions, they are all searching for purpose and struggling with their own internal darkness. Some even battle forces beyond the veil.
I also chose to include illustrations in this book, as with my first book, to further bring my visions to life. For this, I commissioned works by a talented young artist, Giana Bisceglia.
The Story Behind the Story: “Save the Sinner,” the poem that gave the book its title, could be seen as controversial, but is from my own perspective and experiences, and I have been passionate about its theme for years. It is not focused on any religious, or non-religious beliefs or customs. This viewpoint is mine and mine alone.
This poem was inspired by my own observations of the casting out of a soul who was desperately searching for peace and love from his religious family. Making personal sacrifices, he lived a life of dedication to his strong beliefs.
Over time, he realized that what he believed in and dedicated his life to was only a façade. Once he saw the face of the true Sinner, within his own internal struggle and despair, he could no longer hold on. His faith and sacrifices were broken and wasted.
To me, the most powerful words in this poem are: “The Sinner held for validation / An example for the righteous / Escape for the pious / Judgement given without consequence.”
This soul was cast out, ostracized, and branded a ‘Sinner’ for learning their truth. Their sacrifice for faith was no longer validated. Promises were shattered. A soul was broken.
I think this speaks to those who search for answers but are held in judgement by others. Throughout my life, I have personally witnessed and experienced the hypocrisy of casting a religious judgment on someone. I have seen and heard spiritual leaders from diverse cultures around the world create and speak a façade of truth, love, and family while living a very different life. I have seen them walk away from a true searcher. Conversely, I have also seen kind and gentle souls of truth wanting to help others find theirs.
This poem was written to give this Sinner’s soul a voice.
The cover image of this book created itself in my mind as I wrote this poem. The meaning and symbology I will leave for you to decide.
I began my journey as an intimidated writer. I felt that writing my first book, Release Me, was dipping my big toe into the vast ocean of writers. Then with my second book, Save the Sinner, was putting my foot in the giant ocean. Now with my first novel I’ve jumped into the ocean completely.
When I write, I don't just tell a story. I have an emotional attachment to most of my stories and poems. They become personal to me. I am there with each character, becoming them, to learn who they really are.
In the short story, “The Forest,” I became Crow, sitting in his mahogany chair and stroking Shadow’s feathers as she sat upon his shoulder, while he gazed out upon his now dead forest. I felt his never-ending pain of love and loss for his Genevieve.
With “Going Insane,” I felt Victoria’s fear of losing control of her life, of no one able to help her, and her desperation to hang on to her life. How she must have felt at that final moment.
The poem “The Final Battle” allowed me to become the underdog warrior as he fought the more powerful dark force. I felt his heart race in fear then felt the liquid motion of his stallion in battle.
Writing “Dissect the Insanity” helped me through my own heartache of lost dreams.
At the end of these stories and poems, I still tear up. Every time. I wrote the words but still feel the emotion.
So far, the short story I'm basing my novel on, “Soul Collector,” has been my readers’ favorite, even though it was not my own original favorite. But as I work with the characters, developing their backstories and motivations, I have grown to love them and want to tell their story. I want readers to understand who my protagonist—Breena—is, for instance, and see the pain she has gone through. I've also introduced new characters and added many twists and turns. Readers will learn about Jack and Billy and what makes chocolate-chip cookies so special. I've also enjoyed doing extensive research for this. There are gypsies, witchdoctors, nightmares, magic, a beautifully beaded candy-apple-red skirt, and death.
Projected Release Date: 2023.
A question for you, Linda.
Do you hear from your readers? What do they say?
Here are a few of the comments I’ve received about Save the Sinner:
“There is so much more to tell. I need to know what happens to Jack. And poor Billy. Maybe his ramblings reach the right person, so many past victims someone else must feel it.” [about “Soul Collector”]“Your writing is raw and honest.”
“…The poems and stories in this book. Very imaginative.
“I can't do anything but love a book that asks questions like, ‘Is every sin holy? Or medicated quietly?’ The meaning spilling out of lines like those, and they are on every page, is manifold…”
I especially appreciated the following two reviews because they included both poems and short stories.
“. . . .‘Going insane’ was a recollection of the failure of the medical profession to help a struggling soul find peace of mind. ‘Nikolai’ is a dark poem wrapped around a mythical being known as a vampire. Several twists, turns and re-directs. I was impressed with the writer’s ability to approach difficult and sometimes comical subject matter, with calm, entrancing insight. Shape shifting and gender identities were fluid. This book I have left lying on my desk for several weeks so as to pick it up, read and re-read a selection.”
“I don't even know where to begin. Love the poetry and a few of them I felt so deeply it was as if they were written for my soul...With Dissect the Insanity it is as if I hold my breath the entire time and then with the last line such a deep sigh escapes me. Just Wow. Now for the short stories...Soul Collector I can so see made into a movie. There is So much more to tell, I need to know what happens to Jack. And poor Billy, maybe his ramblings reach the right person, so many past victims someone else must feel it...The Forest. The intensity of the power of love and loss. The depth of despair but yet the promise of hope. Crow's pain is so honest that you ache with him. I think it's the first time in a long time that Snow made me smile and feel lighthearted, like there was hope for the future...Your writing is raw and honest, it makes you Feel and not just Read the words. I will wait (im)patiently for more!"
Thank you, Allan, for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you and your readers.
It’s my pleasure to have you as a guest this week, Linda. Wishing you continued success with your writing. Thanks for sharing TSBTS.
And a special thank you to our visitors and readers. Feel free to leave a comment.