Friday, October 16, 2009
Interview with Linda Kay Garner, author of "Some Secrets Hurt"
Linda Kay Garner grew up in a small town in southern Idaho. She is the fifth of six children born to Calvin and Ruth Heiner. She graduated from Burley High School in 1970 and studied Elementary Education and Child Development and Family Relationships at Ricks College, now known as BYU Idaho. In 1972 she received an Associates degree from Ricks College in Early Childhood Education. She and her husband, Marshall W. Garner live in Sandy, Utah and are the parents of 7 children. Marshall and Linda also have 20 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Linda loves children and teaches Suzuki Piano Lessons in her home studio. Writing is her passion. She has written many stories and poems for children. Because she loves to make a difference, she often writes about difficult subject such as eating disorders, pornography, bullying, self worth, and sexual abuse.
Some Secrets Hurt: A Story of Healing
If the “unthinkable” happened to someone you love, would you know what to do? Would they?
Some Secrets Hurt, an illustrated picture book, was written to educate children and parents about sexual abuse and to open the lines of communication between parent and child. It empowers children to take control of their own bodies and helps them find the strength to tell if they are being victimized. It also give parents a forum for discussing these sensitive issues with children, and includes a Parents Guide and suggestions on What To Do.
Here is my interview with Linda:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?.
Linda: I can never remember not writing. I have always loved writing children’s books. I have written a few poems. I have written skits for young women and narrations for Christmas Programs. In school if there was a choice of assignments and one was writing, that was the one I chose. I guess I never thought about whether or not I wanted to be an author. I just knew that I had to write. It was as much a part of me as breathing
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Linda: Writing the book was the easy part. Figuring out what to do next was hard. I was blessed to connect with a wonderful artist named Brandilyn Speth, and I instantly knew she was the one I wanted to illustrate Some Secrets Hurt. We connected in a wonderful way. The illustrating process took a long time, but I felt sure that things would come together when the time was right.
The next hurdle was how to get it published. I had heard enough about publishing that I knew this could be very difficult and I was writing about a sensitive subject. I wondered if there was a publisher who would be brave enough to touch it. I never considered sending it to Deseret Book because I felt that my subject was way too sensitive for them to consider. I considered self publishing.
I didn’t want my text watered down or condensed. I knew it was inspired and I knew it was done right. I also didn’t want my book labeled as an LDS book because it isn’t. I didn’t want the publisher to choose my illustrator, because I had been led to Brandilyn and I loved her vision of the book. I didn’t want a publisher who would change the illustrations.
In the end, Brandilyn and I were both impressed to send our manuscript to Deseret Book and what a wonderful adventure that has been. It took Chris Schoebinger some time to make a decision on publishing Some Secrets Hurt. The economy was bad and Deseret Book was cutting back. He had a lot of questions about Some Secrets Hurt. He wondered if it would sell. He wondered if it could be profitable. Still he understood the need and with a little encouragement from others he decided to take a chance.
I broke so many rules: having my own illustrator, too many pages, a taboo subject. This is a book that is breaking all the rules and Deseret Book is really behind us now. They have been so kind and so helpful and so complimentary. I’m incredibly grateful to be publishing with them. The book was published under the Shadow Mountain label, so that it can be marketed to a wider audience. It is not an LDS book, or even a religious book.
Having chosen my illustrator proved not to be a drawback with Deseret Book. They loved Brandilyn’s illustrations and wondered if the text and illustrations had been done by the same person, because the illustrations were so consistent with the text, and with the emotional color of the book.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Linda: I was a little frustrated because the illustrating took so long. At the same time, I knew that I had the right illustrator. I believed that when the time was right everything would come together. I feel it is important to save your energy for the things you can control. I couldn’t control the interruptions that were slowing things down and I chose to trust the process and turn my energy to creativity.
I know that Brandilyn and I are both in a better place now and the time is right for this important book to be available. Perhaps we weren’t ready a few years ago. Perhaps Deseret Book wasn’t ready. Perhaps our audience wasn’t ready. I will just say that it has been worth the wait.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Linda: Schedule? Am I supposed to have a schedule?
My schedule is pretty flexible, because my life is full of interruptions. In general I write in the morning from about 9:00 -1:00. Sometimes that doesn’t work at all, though, and I write whenever I can.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?
Linda: Ideas can come from anywhere. A joke. A funny story. Comments from kids. Since I write for kids, their comments are great material for books.
I write about what I love. I write about feelings. I like to write things for kids that are meaningful. There are plenty of people who can write silly stuff, but I like to write about things that matter. I like to aim for the heart. Of course it has to be entertaining, too, or who would read it.
I also write about things that upset me. I love to make a difference. I love to write about things that intelligent people usually avoid. I guess that’s why I wrote a children’s book about sexual abuse.
How do I know if the idea is good enough? I try it out. I just start writing and see where it goes. If it doesn’t work at first, I put it on the back burner and wait. Some of those ideas are just late bloomers waiting for the right season.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?
Linda: Read a lot. Get a critique group. Write about things that matter to you. Write about things that you can put your heart in. If your heart is in it, you will find a way.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
Linda: I think I did outline a story once. It turned out great, but that is not the way I usually do it. Often when I start I don’t really know where the story is heading. For me a story is a living thing. It moves and breathes and grows. I can’t force it, but I can discover it.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Linda: I work out most of my snags on long walks. I walk every morning for about 3 miles. For Christmas I got an ipod so that I could listen to talks, or books on tape, and make better use of my walking time.
It was fun to have that option and be able to do two things at once, but I discovered that I missed the thinking time. I missed being able to let my stories dance in my head while I was walking. I missed being able to work out those details that moved my stories along.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?
Linda: I love quiet and I love music. I love variety. I write inside. I write outside. I write in the car. I write in bed. To me it doesn’t matter, where or when or how. I just write. I write in the morning, the afternoon, and occasionally in the middle of the night. I am at my best in the morning. I have to discipline myself to do my walking first and also my scripture reading. I am dying to get to my computer, but I need to do those two things first, or they just don’t happen. My writing is better when I take care of those things first.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Linda: I hang out with kids a lot. I read a lot. Since I write picture books, I read all the picture books I can get my hands on. I go to the library and gather up an armload of picture books, then come home and read them. It is such an education for me. Sometimes I think, wow, this is great. I wish I had written this. Other times I wonder, how in the world did this get published?
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Linda: Is that a trick question?
I don’t know how to answer that, because I have learned so much from so many people. It has been my great privilege to meet many interesting people who have all influenced me in wonderful ways. I couldn’t begin to name them all.
My husband is wonderful, though, because he believes in me and frees up my time by doing laundry and housework for me. I know that is amazing, and no, he is not for sale. Also I think my parents were incredible for me because they believed I could do anything. That’s a great legacy to have.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Linda: I have a wonderful critique group. We are small, but our influence on each other is powerful. We keep each other writing and our collective feedback keeps our writing heading in the right direction. We have become close friends and there is a high level of trust. You have to trust each other enough to be able to speak freely without worrying about being misunderstood. We are kind to each other, but we also need honesty.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Linda: That’s like asking me, which of my children I love the most. I do have a special love for Some Secrets Hurt, not because it’s my first published book, but because it is such an important book. It is a book which is going to make a difference. I feel very powerful because I know that Some Secrets Hurt is going to change the world.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?
Linda: I would like to encourage your readers to become advocates for children. So many children have been damaged by sexual abuse. When one child is hurt, we all hurt. As a society we have been avoiding this subject for much too long. It is time we started talking about sexual abuse. Some Secrets Hurt was written so that adults would have tools to talk to kids about abuse and so that kids could learn how to protect themselves against abusers. Sexual abuse thrives in a corner, a corner that is built on silence and secrecy. We can turn the other way or we can start talking. We can put an end to secrecy and silence. We can stand together, you and me. We can become a community of caring adults that works to protect kids. Together, we can make a difference.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Linda: Some Secrets Hurt is on the shelves at Deseret Book and Seagull Book. You can also order it online from deseretbook.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and borders.com.
My website is www.somesecretshurt.com. There is helpful information about sexual abuse on this site as well as information about Some Secrets Hurt. I blog to this website every Wednesday. My critique group has a blog at http://paperandparchment.blogspot.com . I post to Paper and Parchment every Tuesday.