Patricia: Linda, I’m pleased to have you with us today. Please tell us where you grew up and if your childhood contributed to your desire to be a writer.
Linda: I grew up in a small farming community in western Ohio. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Looking back, I think those uneventful summers and long Midwestern winters, helped me develop a very active imagination. I learned to keep myself entertained and wrote my first book when I was thirteen years old.
Patricia: Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels?
Linda: I currently live in the Texas Panhandle. My husband and I have a small ranch with horses. The area is vastly different from Ohio, where my Kate Burkholder series is set, so I don’t draw much from this area in terms of setting. But we live in a rural area and because my books are set in a mostly rural locale, I can usually draw upon my knowledge of rural living.
Patricia: What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
Linda: As a writer of crime fiction and a lover of mysteries, I’ve always been interested in missing person cases. When someone disappears, I want to know what happened to them. Where did they go? Why did they disappear? Was foul play involved or did they leave of their own accord? And how does the disappearance of a loved one affect their family? Those are just some of the questions I pose in my latest novel, Gone Missing, where the disappearance of an Amish teenager during her rumspringa leads chief of police Kate Burkholder and state agent John Tomasetti to other missing person cases.
Patricia: I loved Gone Missing. A couple of years ago, a friend and I visited the Amish settlement in Ohio and, when I read your book, I felt as if I were back there. So tell me, did you plan to write a series before or after you wrote the first book?
Linda: From the moment I conceived the idea of a formerly Amish female chief of police, I knew that exploring her fully would take more than one book. Kate Burkholder is not your typical protagonist. Yes, I wanted to write a character that could immerse us in the Amish world and give us a first person look at it from both the inside and the outside. But Kate is different in other ways, too. She’s imperfect and there are times in the books when she steps over the line—for better or for worse. I find Kate endlessly fascinating and I very much enjoy writing her character.
Patricia: Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre.
Linda: There are so many wonderful mystery writers it’s tough to narrow it down to just three, but I’ll take a stab at it. Two authors I absolutely love are Gillian Flynn and Tana French. I recently read new author Julia Keller’s A Killing in the Hill, which I enjoyed immensely.
Patricia: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
Linda: My husband and I have two appaloosa horses, and I spend quite a bit of time with them. When I’m not working, you might find me riding in the pasture or nearby arena. We also like to ride and camp in Palo Duro Canyon. I’ve also done some barrel racing with both my mare and gelding. I’m very curious about mounted shooting so that’s probably going to be the next event I try.
Patricia: Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go?
Linda: I tend to be a homebody, but my husband and I have done a bit of traveling in the last year or so. One of my favorite places in the world is St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Two thirds of the island is national park so there’s a lot of hiking. The vistas are absolutely breathtaking and the island has a fascinating history as well. We’re also planning a trip to Scotland this fall and are very much looking forward to that.
Patricia: How would you describe yourself personality wise?
Linda: If I had to categorize myself as a Type A or B, I would have to go with A. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m a bit of a hard driver. I love what I do, so I work a lot. Even when I’m not working, when I have time to play, I play hard, too.
Patricia: How would you finish this sentence? If I won a million dollars, I would . . .
Linda: …buy that ranch in the Texas Hill Country….