Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Linda Weaver-Clarke

Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm featuring author Linda Weaver-Clarke. Linda travels throughout the United States, teaching and encouraging others to turn their family history and autobiography into a variety of interesting stories. She is the author of the historical fiction series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho which includes the following novels: Melinda and the Wild West - a semi-finalist for the Reviewers Choice Award 2007, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny’s Dream, David and the Bear Lake Monster, and Elena, Woman of Courage.

Linda, what exactly do you teach in your Family Legacy Workshops?

I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Each of us has a story from our ancestors to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. Our children need to be proud of their ancestors. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint their stories, to be the storyteller. To read samples of my ancestor’s stories, you can visit my website at

What do you encourage people to research?

The area your ancestors settled and the time period. First, find out everything you can about the area to both educate your readers and to make the setting feel real. If possible, go to the area you want to write about, walk around, find out where your ancestors lived, went to school, and played. If you can’t go there in person, then do research and find pictures of that area.

Why do you put true family and ancestral experiences in your novels, and can you give us a few examples?

I love inserting real experiences into my novels. It brings a story to life. To me, the experiences of my family and ancestors have always intrigued me. In my family saga series, I have set my story in Bear Lake Valley in Idaho…the place that my ancestors settled in 1863.

In “Melinda and the Wild West,” I inserted an experience that happened to my dad. When he was young, his father asked him to bury the skunks that he shot because they were getting into the chicken coop. Before my dad buried them, he drained their scent glands into a bottle. He called it “skunk oil.” Then he took it to school to show his friends. While explaining how he had done it, he must have gotten a little too excited because he accidentally dropped the bottle and it splattered on the floor. The scent of concentrated skunk oil permeated the room with a stench that was indescribable. Everyone ran out of the school as fast as their little legs would go. And the teacher followed close behind. They let school out so it could be cleaned up. My father said that he was a hero for one day because he got school out for his classmates. This novel eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007.”

What a great example! Do you put any of your own experiences into your books?

Yes. “Jenny’s Dream” was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I learned that forgiveness was essential for true happiness and well-being, and that is why I felt this story needed to be told. Jenny must learn to forgive and put her past behind her. Of course, I add a little love story, but it’s not the complete focus of this novel. When she realizes that her kindred friend means more to her than she thought, then she has to make a decision whether to follow her dream or matters of the heart. This story is about accomplishing one’s dreams and the miracle of forgiveness.

Can each of your books be read separately or do you have to read them in order since they’re a series?

Each story has its own plot and can be read separately, but the main characters grow up. In the first book, “Melinda and the Wild West,” this book is about how Gilbert and Melinda get together.

What is the synopsis of your new book, “David and the Bear Lake Monster”?

Deep-rooted legends, long family traditions, and a few mysterious events! David quickly becomes one with the town and its folk and wonders why they believe in this Bear Lake Monster. It just has to be a myth. While visiting the Roberts family, he finds himself entranced with one very special lady and ends up defending her honor several times. Sarah isn’t like the average woman. This beautiful and dainty lady has a disability that no one seems to notice. He finds out that Sarah has gone through more trials than the average person. She teaches him the importance of not dwelling on the past and how to love life. After a few teases, tricks, and mischievous deeds, David begins to overcome his troubles, but will it be too late? Will he lose the one woman he adores? And how about the Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

What about this Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers arrived in 1863. The legend of the Bear Lake Monster made life a little more exciting for the pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it.

Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community.

When is the last book in this series going to be released and what is it about?

“Elena, Woman of Courage” is the last in this series and should be released soon. It’s set in 1925. It was a blast to research. I found out about words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, they were goofy. If a person was a fool, they were a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing or romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great!

It’s about a “Happy-go-lucky Bachelor” that is completely fascinated with a woman doctor: Elena Yeates. Of course, women weren’t encouraged to go to college back then, let alone become a doctor, and this fascinates him to no end. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you great insight at the struggles women had to go through, all the while watching a young love blossom! You can read an excerpt from each of my books at

Readers, thanks for being here today. To learn more about Linda, visit her blog at

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