Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
My dad, proud of our Norwegian ancestry, used to tell me that the name Landvik meant ‘Land of the Vikings.’ It does not, but he was a fanciful and funny raconteur and it’s both his and my mother’s senses of humor as well as their love of a good story that first influenced me. Loved to be read to; loved to be told bedtime stories and when I learned how to read — wow! I decided then and there, in lovely Miss Carlson’s first grade class that I decided I wanted to be a writer.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I love reading (what writer doesn’t?), getting my steps in, being on stage either as a speaker or performer, drawing and painting, yoga (when I’m disciplined) cooking, baking, seeing plays and movies, harmonizing to the radio or with my musical friends, daydreaming.
How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)
I ‘Wordle’ before I get out of bed. Once having found that magic 5 letter word, I get up and chug down a cup (or two or three) of the coffee my husband always makes (nice guy), read our local Minneapolis paper and ‘The New York Times,’ and do their crossword puzzles. Then it’s off to the dog park with husband and hound. I might get to writing in the afternoon or I might get to writing by the evening; whatever the time, I TRY to get some writing done each day.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
…the knowledge that I can. A writer’s confidence (however shaky it may be at times) in herself and the stories she tells is paramount to getting the writing done. We have to be our own little engine — I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…
All the amenities of the deserted luxury hotel on that deserted island — fully stocked kitchen,Tiki bar and library, a working hot tub, a notebook and sketch pad, night skies crowded with stars and the ability to contact the Coast Guard to pick me up.
What career did you think you’d have as an adult?
I wanted to be writer since I learned how to read and so that course was set early. I’ve also always loved performing so assumed I’d translate that into being a movie star. (There’s still time, right? Although no young ingenue roles for me…)
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I will rarely turn down chocolate but will not touch it if it contains hazelnuts. Not because of an allergy, but because of an extreme distaste for. Also I can speak good German if the discussion is about cleaning.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
What was the original title for this book?
Ha! It was ‘The ABCs of Erotica’ but my editor said anyone Googling that title would come up with a lot of things I might not want to be associated with.
Where do you get your ideas?
From the world and all its offerings.
Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?
Yes, one hard copy of a partial novel is gathering dust in a drawer along with old check receipts; there are also about seven (!) novels in various stages of completion in my ‘Documents’ file.
If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?
On stage or on a movie set.
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
I usually hand it off to my husband who goes into the bedroom, shuts the door and reads it. He always gives me the only response I want/need: “I love it!” and I don’t care if he’s lying. Sometimes I give it to a couple friends whose opinions and insight as readers I value; other times it’s straight to the agent/editor.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
The Dick and Jane books that taught me to read; CADDIE WOODLAWN in elementary school (I loved her adventurous, daredevil spirit) and TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, taught in Mrs. Harper’s 8th grade English class. That book grabbed me from its opening paragraph, to its characters, to its scope, and lastly, to Harper Lee’s voice.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)
There were so many — the biggest challenge being the word ‘no.’ It took a long time for me and a lot of rejections to find an agent for my first novel, PATTY JANE’S HOUSE OF CURL and then a longer time and more rejections for that agent to find a publisher. What I’m most proud of in my writing career is my decision to not take all those ‘nos’ as my final answer.
How do you market your work?
Not well — promotion is anathema to me, although I’m trying to get better.
What are you working on now?
A novel (well, actually I’m zigzagging between two) and a screenplay for my novel, OH MY STARS.
What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?
THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS by Michael Pollan.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
I grew up in the Lutheran church and my mom was a long-standing church circle member who really valued the friendship and fellowship she had within that circle. I guess I wanted to explore more in-depth a group that’s easy to write off as unhip or irrelevant.
My mom was fun-loving, imaginative and creative but would she and her church circle have come up with the fundraising idea that the circle in my book did? It makes me smile to think about…
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
I love the chapter in which the women come up with their particular (and peculiar) fundraising idea, but the most fun for me was figuring out what alphabet letter had what significance to the characters.
Do you have a favorite character?
If I named one, the others would feel bad.
Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…?”
…The novel that has been #1 on the ‘New York Times’ bestseller list for a record-breaking two years…
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I always enjoy reading books about how writers write, thinking I might learn some secrets or shortcuts. Mostly they’re heartening because you learn there’s no right way to write. Whatever works for you, be it outlining or ‘pantsing’ or a hybrid of the two, is the way you should write.
Also, believe in yourself! When I was writing my first novel, I pictured myself holding a little flame of confidence — while others tried to blow it out (“do you know what the odds of getting published are?” etc., etc.) — my job was to shield that little torch and keep it lit. Find out if you like to write alone or it’s more productive to belong to a writers’ group. Read, read, read! And most of all, don’t give up.
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
Any time I’ve faltered in my writing career is when I didn’t trust my own voice. That’s not to say I’m always right (not always, haha) but not speaking up for yourself or your work is never a winning strategy. But my complaints are minimal when compared to the great privilege of writing and then getting that writing published and out in the world.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for taking my books with you under the covers, in the bathtub, onto the recliner, and hopefully, into your hearts!
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