Author Linda L. Richards - Endings and Exit Strategy and a lot more besides, dropped by to answer some questions on her reading and writing habits....
I see from your biography on your
website you’re an editor, a journalist and an author. Which would you regard as
your primary occupation?
Like most careers, mine has not been
static. At this stage, I feel very fortunate in having my work somewhat in
demand and it seems there is always a deadline looming. That’s a lovely
feeling. I guess that was the long answer. The short answer is: author.
Which came first? I’m curious to know if
the journalism led to the book writing, which then led to the editing.
I always knew I wanted to write novels, but
I was afraid. What if you put a year of your life into something and no one
And I was a journalist where one of the
things you learn how to do is write, no matter what.
And I had a sharp eye and a good working
knowledge of what is correct in many situations, so editing came up fairly
One day I had the courage to write a whole
novel. And by then I had the expertise — from journalism and also editing — to
be competent about the material.
So tell the story. (Novelist.) Tell it in a
way that will be comprehensible. (Editor.) And write the whole thing while also
getting the details right. (Journalist.)
*I’m soon to read your latest offering –
Exit Strategy. Can you pitch it to a potential
reader in 50 words or less? (*Exit Strategy and its predecessor Endings have both been read/enjoyed now)
High tech startup meets hit woman for an
unexpected ride. Think Elizabeth Holmes. But with killing.
It’s your 13th published work since Mad
Money dropped in 2004. Which one are you most proud of?
I’m always the most excited about the book
I’ve just finished. I guess that’s natural. You spend a lot of time and emotion
immersed in this world you’ve created. And if you don’t think the book you’ve
completed is the best thing you’ve done… well, what would that say?
Which would you press into the hands of
a new reader first?
I guess Endings. Though they stand
alone, Endings precedes this book in series. Also, it becomes available
in paperback mid-April 2022.
That said, I would like to tell you, these
books are not for everyone. There is a sort of spiritual darkness here. She is
struggling towards the light, always, but that’s a subtlety not everyone gets.
Also the narrating character is a hit woman: she kills people for money. Some
people find it difficult, because as narrating character you’re seeing the
world through her eyes. And yet at least some of what she does is morally
reprehensible. Some people find that uncomfortable. I understand that.
Can you remember what your first
published piece was?
My first published pieces were journalism.
You’ve written three different series,
several standalone novels, a novella and some non-fiction. Does a series character and book require
a different approach to a standalone novel?
All of the first books in my series began
as standalones. That is, I did not conceive a series. I imagined a story and
created main characters and before the book was complete, I had conceived of
further adventures that were outside of the scope of that single book. I had to
keep going to discover what
Similarly, how different is the approach
to non-fiction writing to fiction? More research maybe?
For me, non-fiction is so much more work!
Or maybe it is just the type of non-fiction I’ve been writing. It’s really
difficult because you must – you must – get everything right.
In fiction, of course, you must get
everything right, but sometimes it’s a matter of POV. I’ll give you an example.
In Exit Strategy the main character learns something about daytrading.
It is explained to her in broad terms. And she’s not a stock market expert, so
the shape of the thing is all that is needed. But if you were writing a book
about daytrading, you’d have to explain it all ad nauseum and every little bit
of what you say will be held up to scrutiny, and rightly so: people will be
making decisions based on what they read. That’s quite a lot of responsibility.
But, honestly, in a novel, if you don’t feel like explaining something, you can
just take a broader view. “He had a gun in his hand.” Not: “He had a Ruger
Birdshead-Style Wrangler revolver in his hand.” Nobody even wants to hear that.
You can blur the lens a bit with fiction, I guess that’s what I’m saying. With
non-fiction, every observation must be razor sharp.
Do you have a typical writing schedule?
I really don’t have much of a schedule
about anything. I don’t know why. It must be how I’m made. I’ll get up at any
old time and just start working. Or I’ll go for a hike and work after that. Or
play tennis or go to yoga and then work. Hmmmm… when I think about it, most of
my life these days involves extremely physical activity and writing.
Do you insert family, friends, and
colleagues into your characters?
I don’t. Most of the time, the characters
appear so abruptly, I’m just taking them in, sharing what I’m observing about
When you have an idea and you sit down
to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to
Not at all. I’ll begin with a concept. Not
even an idea, really. Just a “what if?” And then I just sit down and kind of
watch the movie. That’s the first draft. It gets more difficult after that!
How long from conception to completion
did Exit Strategy take? Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the
road along the way?
The reason that’s a difficult question is
that so much of what is “writing” looks like every other thing. Swimming.
Taking a bath. Hiking. When my work in progress is where it needs to be in my
mind and heart, I’m noodling on it all the time.
That said, each of my books tend to take
about a year, including all noodling and writing and editing.
Did the end result mirror both your
expectations at the start of the process, or is it a very different book to
what you imagined?
In some ways, it’s very different. I didn’t
even really know who the ultimate bad guy would be until I wrote the scene. I
was so surprised with whodunnit!
Without spoilers, does the main
character from Exit Strategy offer some scope for a continuation or sequel?
Yes. I recently signed a deal with
Oceanview for two more in the series. I know for sure that book 3 will be
called Dead West. I think it is slated for publication in 2023.
And I’m seeing plot arcs for many more
books. They just come to me as I work on the current book. It’s really rather
Are there any unpublished gems in your
Yes, sure. I recently showed one of them to
my agent. One that I thought was terribly good when I wrote it a decade ago.
And she responded by telling me I’m a much better writer now, which I find
interesting and heartening. I’m pleased at the idea that I’m getting better all
the time. That’s certainly the aim.
What’s the current project in progress?
What are the last five books you’ve
Blacktop Wasteland by SA Cosby
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
Hell and Gone by Sam Wiebe
Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice,
Reimagining Ourselves by Dr. Shawn Ginwright
Who do you read and enjoy?
Honestly, the list is so long. I started to
say and then stopped myself. So many terrific writers creating today!
Favourite activity when not working or
Currently tennis. Mostly and always hiking
and yoga. Often cooking.
TV addict or not? What’s the must watch
show in the Richards’ household?
What are the last three pieces of music
you’ve listened to?
Formation by Beyonce; 4 Mains by Wim
Mertens; Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
RANDOM TRIVIA FUN QUESTIONS
What’s your favourite vegetable?
They are all wonderful. It’s difficult to
have a favorite! Maybe asparagus.
When did you last have a cat fight?
I’ve never been involved in something that
might be described in that way. (Though this morning my cat bit my ankle when I
didn’t get to his breakfast quickly enough.)
Have you ever been thrown out of a bar
or a club?
Yes. A long, long time ago. That’s all I’ll
Do you have any tattoos?
No. Or piercings. Even my ears.
What was your first pet’s name?
What’s the worst meal you have ever eaten?
I haven’t had one. If it’s bad enough to be
described as “worst” I just won’t eat it. Life is too short to eat bad food.
Do you have any irrational fears?
Many thanks to Linda L. Richards for her time.
All of her social media links — and more! — can be found here:
I'll give you a couple though...
Website - https://lindalrichards.com/wp/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/lindalrichards
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/lindalrichardsauthor/
Check out both of her 'Endings' series books below. Thank me later!
Endings (2021)How far can a profound personal loss drive someone toward darkness?
What would it take for you to kill someone for money? And if you did, who—or what—would you have become? These are the question one woman faces when she loses everyone she loves and everything she has. When the opportunity arrives to reinvent herself as a killer for hire, she takes it. She's good at it—and if she doesn't do it, someone else will.
Then everything changes when she learns about a serial killer so horrible she vows to find him and kill him until—overcome by self-doubt—she seeks redemption rather than vengeance.
Fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Dexter will love Endings
Look for Exit Strategy, the next book in the series, coming May 2022
Exit Strategy (2022)A shattered life. A killer for hire. Can she stop? Does she want to?
Her assignments were always to kill someone. That's what a hitman—or hitwoman—is paid to do, and that is what she does. Then comes a surprise assignment—keep someone alive.
She is hired to protect Virginia Martin, the stunning and brilliant chief technology officer of a hot startup with an environmentally important innovation that will change the world. This new gig catches her at a time in her life when she's hanging on by a thread. Despair and hopelessness—now more intense than she'd felt after the tragic loss of her family—led her to abruptly launch this career. But over time, living as a hired killer is decimating her spirit and she keeps thinking of ending her life.
She's confused about the "why" of her new commission, but she addresses it with her usual skill and stealth, determined to keep the young CTO alive against the ever-increasing odds.
Some people have to die as she discharges her responsibility to protect this superstar woman amid the crumbling worlds of high finance and future technical wonders.
The spirit of an assassin—and her nameless dog—permeates this struggle to help a young woman as powerful forces mount against her.
Fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Dexter will love Exit Strategy
Exit Strategy stands on its own and follows Endings in this series.