An Interview with Linda Bingham
How did you start writing? What first inspired you?
I remember writing poetry and short stories back in grade school. I was an omnivorous reader and never considered majoring in anything but English literature in college. I don’t think I realized I would be teaching students who could barely read and consequently didn’t last long in Houston’s inner-city schools. In my mid-20’s I set out to write my first novel. Having spent the previous years reading Eliot, Dickens, Hardy, Austen, and other great English novelists, I assumed that I would naturally know how to write dialogue and structure a paragraph, transition from one scene to the next but I found myself hopelessly entangled in words and had to give it up until I gained some maturity (and life experiences)
I was nearly forty and sitting among the ruins of my destroyed beach house when I got the idea for my Galveston historical, Born On The Island. It took the 100th centennial of the Great Storm to interest a publisher in this book. By then I was well on my way to writing full-time. I quit my day job and spent the next several years learning the craft of novel-building, a subject so large I can never fully master it. However, from time to time I feel enormous satisfaction from a well-crafted sentence or dialogue exchange.
Who or what has helped you the most with your writing career?
Reading thousands of novels was the best preparation for becoming a novelist.
Do you write everyday?
Do you have a special place to write?
My home office. I love working at a big desktop computer so I can keep my back and neck in alignment. Novel-writing is an endurance sport.
Typically, how much do you write a day?
Five hours or so.
Do you use an outline? If not, how do you keep your story and characters together?
I do not outline. I do, however, write extensive character sketches and have a good idea of my plot (for the mysteries) before I begin. Not so much in my mainstream work. For that writing, I’m happy to let the conflict between characters surprise me.
How much do you rewrite? How many drafts do you typically have?
It’s hard to count rewrites when one works on a computer. I typically spend three months on a draft, put it away, and work on something else. Then come back to it, repeatedly. I am currently working on a mainstream novel I wrote years ago and have gone over dozens of times. I’m almost happy with it.
How do you feel about writing groups and have they helped you?
I can’t say they’ve been a help to me. Writing is by its nature a solitary pursuit. I moved recently to a new community and visited a fiction writers group, but the organization was in disarray. I did make a friend, though, and we’ve been helpful to one another.
What drew you to your genre of writing? (A specific author, influence?)
I figure I have no more “great” book ideas than George Eliot, who published 7 novels in her lifetime, or Barbara Pym, around a dozen. But my years on the planet need filling up, and I like plotting mysteries. It’s a genre the reading public never seems to tire of, or seeing dramatized. I loved Nancy Drew when I was a child, Josephine Tey as a young adult reader, and still have many Ruth Rendell novels to go before I get through her entire oeuvre. I focus on women writers now to balance out the steady diet of male writers I was force-fed in college.
What authors do you like to read?
Since I spent so much of my life reading fiction, in the past few years I’ve tried to even out my reading experience with non-fiction. I like reading about science and technology. Writing a mystery, or any kind of fiction for that matter, taps into the whole gamut of one’s knowledge. I know a little bit about a lot of things!
Who is your greatest support?
I value my family for reading and loving my books. My sister is my biggest fan, and she alone knows where all the bits and pieces came from.
What do you think of e-publishing?
As important and wonderful as the invention of the printing press! The process of “getting published” has been democratized.
What methods do you use to market your work?
I maintain a website/blog, a Facebook author page, an email list of friends, family, fans. www.lindabingham.com
What are you working on currently?
I just emerged from a prolonged bout on my new Elinor & Dot mystery Death In The Stacks. I’m filling time before inspiration strikes again re-reading a large mainstream work called Oklahoma Air (I’m from a small town in Oklahoma).
What advice would you give to beginning writers?
Don’t go into it for fame and fortune. You’ll get your heart broken.
Linda Bingham's books are available on Amazon.com in the Book Store.
In paper (available from resellers on Amazon):
Who’sBurning Paloma Blanca (my arson investigator series, including the next two)
Up In Flames
What the Librarian Heard (first Elinor & Dot mystery)
Digital mysteries, all available on Amazon: