Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of four collections, including How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, and recipient of the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
LDA: When I first held a book in elementary school and realized it was a story I knew I wanted to make things like that, even though I had no idea what that meant. There weren’t a lot of books in my house but I remember my mother making up fables which made it feel very natural to let my imagination play.
- How long does it take to write your book(s)?
LDA: I can’t give you a specific amount of time. It depends on the book. I can tell the shortest time I’ve taken so far is for my collection of 100 poems, Being Full of Light, Insubstantial, which I received my second HWA Bram Stoker award® for in 2007. It was a reaction to reviews of my previous collection, which had 31 poems, and the want for more poems in a book.
I decided to challenge myself to write 100 poems. I started writing January 2007, by mid-March 2007 I had finished the 100th poem! I amazed myself. Mind you I was writing after working a full-time job Monday through Friday. I had a piece of paper on the bulletin board over my desk at home to track the number of poems written. I still have that last piece of paper somewhere. The 100 poems that ended up in the book aren’t all the originals I wrote, some were taken out, new ones put in, like that.
- What is your work schedule like when writing a book?
LDA: I don’t have a set schedule. I try to write in one hour sessions (with breaks in between for my eyes) as much as I can during the day. Even though I’m retired from the day job, I rarely have the whole day to work on just my own writing because of other projects, but I’m planning to change that this year and do less other work.
- Where do you get your ideas or information for your book?
LDA: I’ve been journaling since the 1960’s, writing down everything that I hear, ideas, bits of poems/stories/character descriptions. For poetry collections I go to the first journal after the last book and start pulling bits out to build into poems. I don’t have a basic concept for the book, this develops as the poems are written. Often the title comes from the first poem finished.
For the linked SF story novel I’m working on, I sat down and created thirty story ideas over 3 months in the future Earth I had created in a story, When We Dream Together, published in a 2010 anthology called Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction. Many of the ideas were prompted by articles I read in several magazines; I tore the articles out and kept them for continuing inspiration.
- When did you write your first book?
LDA: My first book was, Animated Objects, a collection of sf, fantasy, horror poetry & short stories published by Space & Time Books in 1997. I had approached Gordon Linzner (publisher of Space & Time Books at the time) a couple of years before at a convention about publishing a collection. He suggested that I get work published in magazines first and then come back to talk to him. After I had sixteen poems and stories accepted (and my first Honorable Mention for the Tenth Annual Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror) I talked to Gordon and he agreed! I got some good reviews. It was an excellent first step.
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
LDA: When I’m not actually writing my own work I work with other authors and their work, travel to conventions (much less this year as I have some big writing of my own to do). I love to read, watch movies, do tai chi, and scrapbooking,
- What does your family think of your writing?
LDA: They’ve always been very supportive of my writing. When my mother and father were alive I’d always send them a copy of my books and magazines I’m in. I went to a family reunion in 2018 (my father’s side of the family) and they surprised me with a plaque celebrating my receiving four HWA Bram Stokers and the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award; it was wonderful and humbling.
- What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your books?
LDA: Each book teaches me something different. I’m always looking for growth. Over the years I’ve increased my ability to write dialogue, come up with interesting titles, allow the poetic voice into my fiction, etc. The most important thing I’ve learned is that ideas will come so I don’t much worry about writing blocks. Life can distract and throw me off, but I know the ideas will come.
- How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
LDA: I’ve written four books by myself (“Animated Objects”, “Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes”, “Being Full of Light, Insubstantial”, “How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend”) and two with others (“Dark Duet” music inspired poetry written with Stephen M. Wilson & “Four Elements” with Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon & Rain Graves). I can’t really pick a favorite, they all hold a special place in my heart. The one that takes up most of my mind and heart is the newest one I’m writing.
When people ask which one to start with I usually suggest How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, since it’s a mix of poetry and fiction crossing all genres, not to mention a fantastic cover by Jill Bauman.
- Any tips/suggestions on getting started?
LDA: Step One: finish what you start writing. Then rewriting is essential, unless you’re lucky enough to be one of those unicorns that write a great first draft. It helps tremendously to get someone else’s feedback. Once it’s a good as you can make it, create a list of three markets and start sending it out, then go back to Step One. If a piece is rejected, send it to the next market. Don’t work on it unless you can make it better. That’s the short list of suggestions.
- What do you think makes a good story?
LDA: That’s a hard question to answer. What makes a story good is different for different people. Some love action stories, other character-based stories, and so on. For the writer, create the story that haunts you, that wakes you up, distracts you and you can’t let go. Then learn the craft of writing/rewriting to tell that story in the best way.
I’ve been in a writer’s group since 1990 and the some of the things we look at are based on the Critiquers Checklist by Grace Ackerman: Story Line, Characters, Setting, Dialogue, and Details & Mechanics.
- As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up?
LDA: As I mentioned, I wanted to make books from my early years, but I grew up knowing that being an artist wasn’t a great way to make a living. I was good at math and science so I ended up getting a B.S. in Mathematics from Carnegie-Mellon University and working in computer software development, while writing weird stuff in the evening and weekends.
-my site: lindaaddisonpoet.com
-“How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend” cover artist, Jill Bauman: http://www.jillbauman.com/