IndieView with Linda Anne Smith, author of Terrifying Freedom

I hit a crossroads where I had to decide whether to wrap up the novel quickly or delve deeper into the lives of the characters. I decided to dive in.

Linda Anne Smith – 9 February 2017

The Back Flap

Truth can be illusive, choices disconcerting; the promise of moral certitude, irresistible. 

In the Midwestern offices of Secure Star Insurance, Rebecca, efficient and distant, seeks only to survive another day. Sally, earnest and devout, views the workplace as a fertile mission field. Into the agency comes a new employee, Gladys, gregarious, unorthodox and twice divorced. When an intuitive HR manager arrives, veneers begin to crack.

Back track four years. Rebecca’s mysterious past is explored in a convent replete with younger members and garnering the support of an increasing number of bishops and conservative Catholics. When an older nun has a heart attack, Rebecca is abruptly sent to a backwater mission in Appalachia. Distanced from the enclave of the motherhouse and embedded in social realities of the missionary outpost, Rebecca is thrust into uncharted waters.

About the book

What is the book about?

Truth can be illusive, choices disconcerting; the promise of moral certitude, irresistible.”

Terrifying Freedom is character-driven, historical fiction that portrays our struggle to break through the cultural lenses from which we judge reality and to question the beliefs that mould our lives. It explores betrayal and disillusionment, and the possibility of moving beyond to meaning and hope.

When did you start writing the book?

I began the novel in 2005.

How long did it take you to write it?

Six years, however, I was working full-time as well.

Where did you get the idea from?

Observing life. I’ve always had a love for and fascination in Appalachia which explains why the major part of the novel is situated there.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I hit a crossroads where I had to decide whether to wrap up the novel quickly or delve deeper into the lives of the characters. I decided to dive in.

What came easily?

The research I did in order to moor the story in history.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The characters are fictitious, however, I believe in most fiction, life experience plays a part in how the characters take shape and morph.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I enjoy a wide range of genres and authors and learn from them all. I could single out a couple of authors: Jane Austen, whose characters go about their daily lives while Jane explores their perceptions and subtly questions the social conventions of her times. Charles Dickens gave life to intriguing, endearing, and sometimes, bizarre characters. He created plots that opened the eyes of his readers to injustices unknown or unacknowledged in their social circles. I love the quote of Barbara Kingsolver, “Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life.”

Do you have a target reader?

Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, character-driven, and coming-of-age novels.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Before I published Terrifying Freedom, I carved out certain times of the day to write, especially on weekends when I was not working. Since publishing, I’m in the process of learning to juggle work, promote Terrifying Freedom, and dedicate time to writing my second novel.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

No, I do not outline. I have a general idea of the plot and allow my characters to move in directions I had not anticipated.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I edit as I go and reread and edit extensively when finished.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Because I was self-published I wanted a professional editor to read Terrifying Freedom. She was very encouraging.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I rarely play music as I write because I find myself singing along. I love to sing.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Initially I did, but I found that route onerous, tedious and lengthy. Most publishing houses won’t accept a book without an agent and an agent prefers clients with extensive platforms. If a pitch sparks an agent’s interest, then months are required to allow that agent time to read the book before making a decision. During this time the author is not to approach anyone else. And having an agent doesn’t guarantee getting published.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

It was a gradual process. I initially wanted to publish Terrifying Freedom traditionally and pursued that route. After a year of so, I began to explore the possibility of self-publishing and decided to take the leap.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I believe a book cover is extremely important in moving a book from the shelves into the hands of a reader and so I hired a professional.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I have a limited budget, so I’m operating on a bare bones marketing plan. I rely on personal initiative, suggestions from family and friends, and the experiences of other authors that I tap into on the internet. My greatest means of distribution so far has been book signings and book clubs. Terrifying Freedom was chosen as a staff-pick in a large book chain and that opened the door to a few book clubs and signings.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Read Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft. It’s excellent.

About You 

Where do you live now?

I live in Canada, outside of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rockies.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the sequel to Terrifying Freedom.

End of Interview:

For more from Linda, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Get your copy of Terrifying Freedom from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

2 responses to “IndieView with Linda Anne Smith, author of Terrifying Freedom

  1. Regarding the duration it taken Ms. Smith to finish her novel, I could relate to it. When furnishing my short story in a novelization I striving to seek a way of ending it.
    When that point was met I felt the book was incomplete. As a result the novelization was extending upon reaching the state of a novel with over 175 pages and 21 chapters.
    One of the reasons was similar to Ms. Smith, the central characters could use more development and interaction with one another. Rewriting Regina, What The Color of It? into a novel taken several months. However, I wish to having the length of time Linda Anne was employing in rewriting and editing her work. With time comes additional awareness and wisdom.
    I understand she had a full-time job consuming time and energy. Also, I find my circumstances relative to Anne about marketing. It is a differcult and limited area of operation, my budget as well shoe-stringed. Family members and friends have shared news about the novel Waiting for Regina.
    But the sparks of attention run out quickly and it is tough maintaining the momentum. I like Ms. Smith’s idea of joining book clubs and want to try it. My expression of thanks for this article and interview, it is helpful, I benefit from Linda Anna’s experience and experiences wishing her the best of success.

  2. Sounds like a book I’d love to read, and I enjoyed the sample, but it’s way above my usual price point for a debut indie novel. The author might want to try some price testing someday.