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[SFFWRTCHT] A Chat With Author Linda Poitevin

Linda Poitevin was born and raised in British Columbia in an era when writing was “a nice hobby, dear,” but not a real job. She worked at a variety of secretarial jobs before joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a civilian dispatcher. After marrying a cop to feel safer from demons, fallen angels, Lucifer, and other dangers which lurk around the corner, Linda went on to become a real estate agent and then a human resources consultant before starting a family. Now a stay-at-home mom and full-time writer, her novels include Sins Of The Angels, Sins Of The Son, and A Fairy Tale For Gwyn. In addition to her books, Linda also does freelance writing and editing. Info about her services can be found Linda is a member of @sfwa, Quebec Writers’ Federation, Romance Writers of America (RWA), RWA Futuristic Fantasy Paranormal Chapter, and Ottawa RWA.

SFFWRTCHT: Let’s start by asking you how did your interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy develop?

Linda Poitevin: My dad was an avid Science Fiction fan and I was an avid reader. Once I started picking up his books, I was hooked. Fantasy just followed.

SFFWRTCHT: Who were some of your favorite authors growing up?

LP: Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Piers Anthony, Ursula le Guin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mary Stewart.

SFFWRTCHT: How did you get started as a writer? Did you study craft in college?

LP: I’ve always written for fun, but started seeking publication twelve years ago. No formal education but I’ve had some fabulous mentors.

SFFWRTCHT: Were you involved in fandom and cosplay?

LP: Um, if I admit that I had to go look those up to see what exactly they were, would that give you your answer?

SFFWRTCHT: Okay. Where did the idea for the Grigori Legacy series come from?

LP: I didn’t originally plan to write a series, just a standalone novel. It didn’t become a series until about three-fourths of the way through book one. The very beginning idea, though, came from the Sarah McLachlan song “Angel.” She sang about finding comfort in the arms of an angel, and I started thinking “but what if there is no comfort there, but something else entirely?”

SFFWRTCHT: What drew you to urban fantasy?

LP: Default. I didn’t set out to write in any particular genre but rather to tell a story. That story just happened to fit into Urban Fantasy.

SFFWRTCHT: How do you define urban fantasy? What are its core elements?

LP: For me, UF blends elements of the supernatural with a real world setting. If there is a romantic element, a HEA isn’t necessary.

SFFWRTCHT: How did you get started as a writer? Did you study craft in college?

LP: Trial and error and a couple of fabulous mentors in a critique group.

SFFWRTCHT: Was Sins Of The Angels your first novel sale?

LP: I had one romance sell to a small press a few years ago. But my current publisher considered me a debut author in the Urban Fantasy genre.

SFFWRTCHT: Sins Of The Angels is about a Toronto cop who finds herself investigating a serial killer just as an attractive new partner shows up. Then she discovers the secret connection between her new partner and the serial killer. Even more complicated, she discovers a secret connection between the partner and her which could change everything. Why tell an angel story with a female cop?

LP: Choosing a female detective was very natural for me given my background and cop hubby. Angels just happened. Blame it on that Sarah McLachlan song!

SFFWRTCHT: You were baptized United. What made you decide to make the religious trappings Catholic, then?

LP: A good friend of mine provided much of my early brainstorming. She grew up Catholic and had so many stories for me!

SFFWRTCHT: Did you outline the entire book before sitting down to write? How detailed are your outlines?

LP: Outline. Hmm. I know I’ve heard that term somewhere before… I have a good sense of where I want to end up, but the road there is pretty spontaneous. Sins Of The Angels unfolded to me much the way it does to a reader—one page at a time. It meant a lot of editing when I finally figured out what was happening in the story.

SFFWRTCHT: Do you ever write scenes out of order, or do you always start at the beginning and write through to the end?

LP: I’ve tried writing out of order, but a part of me needs to be a little bit linear or I lose track of where I am. I have enough trouble keeping the story straight as it is, sometimes!

SFFWRTCHT: Do you write in Scrivener, word? With music? What are some tools you use?

LP: I’ve just started using Scrivener with my WIP and love it. I’m still figuring out Scrivener, but my favorite part is being able to put each scene into its own file.  Always write with music.

SFFWRTCHT: Did you spend much time researching Toronto and the Toronto Police before writing or just call on past knowledge?

LP: Hubby’s former partner was female and an absolute goldmine of info for me. She was one of my beta readers for book one.

SFFWRTCHT: Did you have a friend who’s a former angel to beta read too? Just kidding.

LP: LOL…well, I consider many of my friends to be angels, so yes, I suppose I did.

SFFWRTCHT: I see! So Alex Jarvis is based on you–seeing angels everywhere. 

LP: And hearing voices…never forget the voices!

SFFWRTCHT: Ah yes, the voices, but that’s just residue from being a dispatcher. What kind of research did you do for this series?

LP: I did a lot of reading via both the Internet and my local library. I wanted to build a framework that would be familiar to people. But only to a point, after which I wanted to put my own spin on things.

SFFWRTCHT: Speaking of voices, Book two, Sins Of The Son, has the angels your protagonist, Alex Jarvis, met in Sins Of the Angels back on Earth and trouble brewing. You introduced a lot of new POV characters this time around. What made you decide to go that direction with the second book?

LP: I didn’t really think of it as changing direction, more just continuing the story. The additional POV characters were necessary to the telling of that story.

SFFWRTCHT: Do you think the large number of POV’s in book two might make it harder to get drawn in and understand what’s happening?

LP: It can be more difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to reading just one or two POVs, I think.

SFFWRTCHT: Are the new characters ones you intend to develop further? Henderson and Riley, for example?

LP: They definitely make another appearance in book three. No idea if they’ll be in book four yet. See? Pantser all the way.

SFFWRTCHT: And what’s the deal with Father Marcus? Why introduce him then yank him midway? Is he in book three?

LP: Again with the spoilers!

SFFWRTCHT: Sorry. I have responsibilities to my readers, too, and inquiring minds want to know.

LP: He filled a necessary role in book two and may reappear in three. I haven’t decided yet.

SFFWRTCHT: So it’s not a trilogy? There are four books? How many total do you plan? Are you telling me it’s hard to tell Armageddon in three books? Come on

LP: More spoilers? It’s not going to happen, my friend!

SFFWRTCHT: Actually, I’m just curious if Brandon Sanderson should be standing by in case he needs to finish them. Five books? Fifteen? Fifty? Anyway, you have the series roughly plotted out. Any room in there for short stories to expand the characters?

LP: (shuddering)  I so don’t do short stories…but again, never say never, right? The story arc winds up in four books.

SFFWRTCHT: Spoiler! Why do you think Angels/Gods/Supernatural beings giving up their divinity/immortality/powers for a human appeals to readers? Is it an extension of our romance with “sacrifice for love” perhaps?”

LP: I would agree, but add that it makes us feel a little more powerful to know that our gods can be human.

SFFWRTCHT: You also wrote  a novel romance, right? Why switch genres on the next novel? Why not another romance?

LP: When I started writing Sins Of The Angels, I thought it would be a Paranormal Romance. That’s what I intended. The story kept growing, though and refused to be defined that way. In staying true to that story, I had to give up on romance.

SFFWRTCHT: Tell us please a little about that first novel. What’s it about?

LP: Think of it as Notting Hill with kids and a role reversal.

SFFWRTCHT: Do you have any plans to write other genres or series any time soon? What other projects are in the pipeline at the moment for you?

LP: The third book is my WIP, called Sins Of The Righteous. No publication date as yet, but I promise to yell from rooftops when I know!  I’ll be tied up with books three and four for a while. After that, I have another UF series in mind, but it’s nowhere near fleshed out.

SFFWRTCHT: Any plans to do another romance?

LP: Not in the foreseeable future, no. But I still have a strong romantic streak in me, so who knows?

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.