Linda Broday: A Heartfelt Interview with the Author of Heartfelt Stories of the Old West
I met the lovely Linda Broday at the end of a flight to Amarillo, Texas. If I hadn't been buried in a book, I might have talked to her sooner. She'd been a few seats behind me, saw my Kindle and Texas Tech University shirt, and struck up a conversation when we landed. Turns out that we'd both been at the same writer's convention for a week. When she told me she was a romance writer, I was thrilled. What did she write? Did she live in Texas? What was she working on? But when she told me she was Linda Broday - the Linda Broday, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of western historical romance whose books you will see if you walk into your local Barnes & Noble - well, I was a little shocked.
I definitely should have looked up from my book sooner.
This sweet and caring author, whose personality is as heartwarming as her stories, has become one of my favorite people, and I am so excited to share her interview with you! Read to the very bottom for links to her books and social media, and put Saturday, October 8 at 2:00 p.m. on your calendar. She will be signing copies of her new book at the Barnes & Noble in Lubbock, Texas!
Linda, I am excited to share a little bit about you and your writing on my website! I think it’s so important for writers to support each other, and this is something that the romance industry does really well. For folks who may be unfamiliar with your work, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you write.
I live in the Texas Panhandle that is steeped in history. I feel ghosts around every corner. Comanche, Apache and Comancheros once roamed here. I love writing historical western romance. I want to keep the past alive for those who don’t know or have forgotten how we got here. I think the only way to achieve a great future is to remember where you came from. When I was born, my parents and three siblings lived in a tent. So I mostly write what I know. I know poor people and their struggles to survive because I’ve struggled my whole life. High school is the extent of my education. But I was born with stories in my head and I found that telling them wasn’t limited to the rich or college graduates.
I love and admire my cowboys. The man who rises before dawn in the dead of winter, saddles up his horse, and rides out to make sure his cattle have feed and water. Because even the loss of one will set him back. I write about men and women looking for a place to call home—a place to belong. I write about those with big longings and hopes for brighter days ahead. My stories are far more than romance. I want to peel back the layers and show the beating hearts of my story people. Their struggles to survive. Their secret hopes and dreams. And I want to show their determination to succeed and reach goals that seem beyond reach. These are the people I write about because they’re me. I know what it takes and the sacrifices that it calls for. As you can see, I’m a very passionate writer. Ha!
Linda, you share on your website that you grew up in New Mexico, and from an early age, reading was a big part of your life. How did those early years in New Mexico, “read[ing] by flashlight” under the covers until you feel asleep, lead you to being a writer today?
My earliest memory (I must’ve been four or five years old) is of someone reading to me. I can’t tell you the title of the book or who wrote it, but even as young as I was, I felt the magic of the story. I’ve read all my life—everything I could find. When I found that I could go anywhere in the world I desired without leaving home, I couldn’t wait to search for the next adventure. I could be a captive on a pirate ship, a princess in the Scottish Highlands, a woman in a sheik’s harem, a rich man’s wife, a gypsy. I could be anyone and boy did that entice me.
All that reading taught me how to write. I studied how authors put a story together and carried the reader breathlessly all the way to the end. My mother also loved to read and she instilled in me the belief that I could reach for the stars and become anything I wanted. So one day after I’d married and had three little kids, I read a book and hated the ending. I sat down and rewrote it the way I wanted it to end. That gave me courage to begin my own book. You’ll laugh when I tell you it was about a pirate sailing the high seas. That book still isn’t published, but it was a learning experience. I wrote more and each one got better.
One day I heard about a contest—The New Historical Voice Contest offered by Dorchester Publishing. I sent them KNIGHT ON THE TEXAS PLAINS. Two weeks later, they took me out of the contest and offered me a contract. That book published in 2002. My current publisher—Sourcebooks—is going to reissue that and two more of those first books next year. So that’s how I got here. The going was slow and tedious but I didn’t give up. Now I’m proud to be a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, and I reached it by trying and trying and trying some more.
You write Western romance, which as a genre traditionally has a very strong sense of place, landscape, and the traditions within that setting. All of your stories take place in Texas. What is it about Texas that makes it the right setting for your books?
Someone told me early on to write what I know. That’s why my pirate book is still under my bed. But I know Texas. I know the plants, trees, landscape, and more importantly, how we think.
Texans are unique. Most scoff and say we’re nothing but braggers who talk big and carry a pistol on our hip. I beg to differ. Texans are proud of our history. We know where we came from and we don’t mind sharing it. We’re all descendants of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, William Travis, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett—all those early men who fought for the right to live free and independent. Texans carry the torch for the rest of the world in a lot of ways. I love our people’s determination to survive and make things better for everyone. Those are the characters in my books. They have this pride and determination embedded deep in their souls. My characters are these early settlers who paved the way for us. They don’t give up. They work until they achieve their goal.
I love Texas and I’m so proud to live here. In what other state do they proudly display their state flag and hang symbols of it on their walls? I have reminders of Texas all over my house. This is the right setting for my books because it’s what I know and love.
Linda, those of us who read romance – especially across genres – have some pretty specific opinions about what constitutes a hero or a heroine. Tell us about your favorite heroes and heroines from your books. What qualities do you admire most about them? What qualities do you think a hero or heroine must have universally, despite the story in which they appear?
I definitely think carrying respect for others is a requirement. They must be strong and believe that they have what it takes inside to achieve their dream. They’ll probably get knocked down, maybe more than once, but they pick themselves up and try again. A true hero/heroine will never give up. They’ll fight with everything they have, even ride through hell and come out the other side. They have strong values and certain rules they set deep down in their hearts or lines they draw that they’ll never cross. They carry a love for their country, for family, for animals. They’re extremely loyal and hard workers. These are the people I love reading about. I think this gives you some idea of my opinion. Remember, I’m a Texan. Ha!
I am always curious about writer’s processes. It seems that no matter whom I talk to, every author writes a book differently! Do you mind sharing a little bit about your writing process? How long does it take you? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you set daily word goals, etc.? In particular, do you have any rituals you follow when you sit down to write or edit?
I’m a panster. I don’t want to know everything about my story. I like the surprises. Usually a character grabs me and I’m off to discover his/her secrets. To me, plotting each scene and each chapter ruins the story. Besides, it takes a lot of time (and thinking) to do that. I can have half the book written by the time others get through plotting. Besides, when you have four to five months to finish a book, you don’t have the luxury of extra time. I usually know the beginning and have an ending in mind but that’s it.
I have no rituals. I sit down and just dive in. Sometimes I doggy paddle a bit before I get into the flow, but then, I’m swimming like I’m competing in the Olympics. My writing goal each day is five pages (around 1,250 words.) Sometimes I get more but there are also days when I don’t. I don’t worry about it. I just try again the next day. When I have a deadline looming and I’m behind, I often stretch my word count to 2,000 - 3,000 words a day.
Tell us about your new series, Men of Legends! The cover for the first book in the series, To Love a Texas Ranger, is great! It pulls the viewer directly toward this Texas Ranger, who is young but possesses an expression of strength and determination. What is this book about? And tell us what you love about this cover!
I’m so excited about this new series. It’s big and bold (think Bonanza) both with the characters and with the Texas landscape. The series is about a tough patriarch named Stoker Legend, who fought for Texas independence, and his three sons. They’ve carved out a huge ranch of 480,000 acres called the Lone Star in North Texas around the Wichita Falls/Vernon, Texas area. But things aren’t rosy.
Sam Legend in Book #1 (TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER) wants no part of ranching, and Stoker sees red about it. In fact, that’s one source of conflict through the book. Sam was just born with a need to keep moving. He has to see what’s over the next hill. And he loves bringing justice the Legend way to the raw land.
Houston Legend is cut from the same cloth as his father. He loves being a rancher and caretaker of this land. The third son is an outlaw with a price on his head who was born on the wrong side of the blanket. Stoker, Sam and Houston know nothing of Luke (who uses the last name of Weston) until Sam tries to arrest him for his crimes.
As you can expect, this secret turns everything 180 degrees.
But back to Sam and Book 1….The story opens with him facing a ruthless band of rustlers who capture and almost kill him. Left with injuries, Sam is sent home by his Texas Rangers captain to recuperate. He boards a train and is immediately launched into a fight to save a woman running for her life. Sierra Hunt finds a savior in Sam. He knows the only way to keep her safe is to get to the Lone Star Ranch. But to do that, he has to enlist the help of a gunslinger. Only, can he trust him?
In the struggle to reach safety, Sam loses his heart to Sierra. She’s everything he wants but what kind of life can he give her? He can’t ask her to share his wanderer life. Sierra has lived from pillar to post since birth. She dreams of a little white house with a picket fence around it. Some flowers in front and a garden in back. A place she’ll never have to leave. And she’s not giving that up…not even for Sam.
About the cover…this guy is perfect, from his expression on down. He seems to say, “Show me what you’ve got. I can take you.” He just has Sam’s tough look about him. Notice the smudges of blood and dirt on shirt sleeves? I’m very happy the cover designer added that. It makes Sam appear even more determined and rugged. The Sourcebooks art department is the best I’ve seen. Dawn Adams over there once told me she does ten designs of a cover before she’s happy. That’s pride and dedication.
I think readers of western romance will really love this story of adventure, danger, passion and hope.
Here are links for TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER:
Also look for my previous series online and in bookstores – The Bachelors of Battle Creek:
Book #1 – Texas Mail Order Bride
Book #2 – Twice a Texas Bride
Book #3 – Forever His Texas Bride
Your blog is filled with wonderful posts about historical figures and ways of life that have been lost to modern times. How does this kind of research inform your novels?
Research is invaluable, and I love sharing what I learn with others. I’m always finding details and tidbits to add to my stories. I want people to feel they’re back in the 1800s—tasting, feeling, smelling—when they read my books. To do that, I fill my books with actual events, people, and ways of doing things that we’ve lost in the twenty-first century. I want to keep history alive both in my books and in my blog.
When you’re not writing, what do you to do “refill the well?” What special interests and hobbies do you have that inspire and reinvigorate you as a writer?
I’m a movie-aholic. I love sitting in a dark theater and immersing myself in the magic happening on screen. I often get ideas from movies and the movie characters. I also am a collector. I love old coins, and I’m a rock hound. When I go out for a walk or a hike anywhere, I always have eyes glued to the ground, scouring for rocks. I’m also known to haunt museums. There is a really great one nearby—Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum at West Texas A&M University. They’re constantly changing the displays, so it’s always new and fresh each time I go. It’s a huge museum, and if you go, you need to set the whole day aside because an hour or two won’t get it. My parents also loved museums, and I get this from them.
What advice would you share with aspiring authors?
Never, ever give up. Perseverance is the key to reaching your dream. Enter your work in contests because the feedback is invaluable. You learn a lot that way. A lot of judges of these contests are agents, booksellers, and sometimes editors and publishers. It’s a great way to get someone to notice your work. Keep learning and studying the craft. I can’t stress that enough. Join writing groups, go to writing conferences. Be with other writers. Nothing feeds your soul more than surrounding yourself with others like you. One last parting word of advice: treat this as a job not a hobby. Be serious about it and make sure others understand that you’re in this for the long haul.
What is the hardest part of this career for you?
Social Media and Promotion hands down. Besides the issue with finding time, I’m an introvert, and I struggle constantly to put myself out there, to let people glimpse inside me. I’d much rather sit at my computer with my fictional people and write my stories. But, I also remind myself that I can write the best book in the whole world yet if no one knows about it what good would it do. I’m terrible at public speaking and I get asked quite a bit. I have to give myself a stern talking to and force myself to do it. In this business, your career can end very quickly. I will do anything I have to in order to keep it alive and thriving—even risking failure and making a total fool of myself when I stand before a crowd.
Connect with Linda!
Personal Facebook: www.facebook.com/linda.broday1
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/lindabrodayauthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Broday/e/B001JRXWB2