About the Author:
Linda Dahl is a prize-winning author of books and magazine articles over the last thirty years. She majored in Latin American Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she also became a jazz fan, after which she worked in several Latin American countries as a free-lance journalist. In the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, she wrote her first novel, after which she moved to another foreign country – New York City – with a suitcase and several hundred dollars. She worked odd jobs – ice cream truck vendor, cheese writer, critic of C- movies nobody ever saw, including the reviewer – before settling down as a translator (Spanish and Portuguese to English), and freelance journalist. Dahl has written many articles about quirky aspects of travel and about jazz, as well as essays about music and jazz players for Oxford and Harvard University Press. Her books include “Stormy Weather,” a history of women in jazz, “Morning Glory,” a biography of jazz great Mary Lou Williams, and “Haunted Heart,” a biography of the troubled jazz singer Susannah McCorkle, and “Come Back, Carmen Miranda,” a collection of short stories about Mexico and South America; more at www.lindadahl.com Her new novel, “Gringa in a Strange Land,” revisits the Yucatan of the early l970’s; visit her blog http://gringainastrangeland.blogspot.com/. Linda Dahl has two children, a dog, two cats and lots of plants and lives in a 200-year old farmhouse
Hi Linda Dahl,
Welcome to Paperback Writer
Q: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
A: “Gringa in a Strange Land” was born out of my experiences living in the Yucatan Peninsula
in the early ‘70s during the “counterculture” of my youth. This was my first novel, written
on a portable Olivetti typewriter – with a lot of white-out and retyping. The book got me a great agent but no publisher at that time. It lay in a drawer, sleeping, until I decided to work on it again
30 years later. After many rewrites – this time, thank God, on a computer – “Gringa” was all grown up and ready to make its debut in the world.
Q: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
A: With fiction, I start with the setting and a general idea of the motivation for the characters. Then the story emerges.
Q: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
A: Yes but I don’t know how I’m going to get there.
Q: Do you have a process for developing your characters?
A: Letting them move about and talk on the page.
Q: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
A: Authors are snoops, gossips and observers. Sometimes I am part of a character – as in my main character, Erica Mason, in “Gringa in a Strange Land,” but that is only a departure point. The marvelous thing about writing is how surprised an author often is by the characters.
Q: What is your most favorite part about this book?
A: In “Gringa in a Strange Land,” one of the characters is Mexico itself; that is, specific places in Mexico. I grew to love the Yucatan when I lived there and its ancient, complex, vital expressions.
Also the land imposes itself on the narrative – that is, a dry, very hot, remote climate. That was very important in the development of the story, the way people moved and were motivated.
Q: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
A: After I finished it.
Q: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
A: The marketplace mentality and the continuing changes in the publishing business. Years ago,
little-known writers were nourished and helped by editors who took the long view. Being a serious writer was considered a measured, often slowly-developing profession and books were published
without worrying about their sale-ability. Of course, this has all changed drastically today.
Q: What has been the best part about being published?
A: This is my fifth published book and I’ve written a lot of short pieces too. Seeing your work in print is thrilling, but I have to say that meeting and talking to readers who take your work seriously is the best part of the deal for me.
Q: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
A: I would hope they are moved by the story in “Gringa in a Strange Land” and find something in
Erica Mason, the main character that they can identify with.
Q: Do you have plans to write another book?
A: I am working on it right now – it’s nonfiction.
Q: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
A: This is a completely new experience for me. The idea is to reach a lot of people you can’t reach with the traditional book tours, and to be able to have conversations with readers who care about the things you do.
Q: Where can readers find a copy of your book?
A: “Gringa in a Strange Land” is available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, rdrpublishers.com
and via my website.
Q: Do you have a website for readers to go to?
A; Yes, it’s www.lindadahl.com
Thank you, Linda Dahl, for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.