About Linda Kovic-Skow:
Linda Kovic-Skow is a best-selling author in travel in France. Originally from Seattle, she currently winters in Gilbert, Arizona and spends summers on a boat in the San Juan Islands. She earned an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting in 1978 from North Seattle Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Seattle University in 1985. She has been married for 29 years and has two daughters. An enthusiastic traveler, Linda also enjoys hiking, boating, gardening and socializing with friends. “French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley,” was her debut memoir. The sequel, “French Illusions: From Tours to Paris,” recounts the rest of her adventure in France.
What inspires you to write?
In 2007, after my husband and I dropped our youngest daughter off at college, I went through a sort of mid-life crisis. I missed being a mom and I wondered how I would fill the void. Sure I had my part-time bookkeeping business, but it consumed only a few hours a day and it wasn’t interesting any more. Something was missing, but what?
This prompted me to review what I like to call my “mid-life list.” This is similar to a “bucket list,” with an important twist. The idea was to refocus myself and figure out the things I wanted to do with my life in my fifties – while I could still do them. My list was short.
-Learn to play the piano
-Travel to Africa to see the elephants
-Travel to Tahiti and see the island of Bora Bora
-Write a book
At the time, I didn’t own a piano and, with two daughters in college, I couldn’t afford a trip to Africa or Tahiti, so that left me to examine the fourth item on my list more closely. If I did write a book, would it be fiction or non-fiction? What genre would I choose?
The answers to my questions came to me in the shower (which is where many of my ideas seem to materialize, strangely enough). I decided to hunt down my diary from my au pair adventure in France and compose a memoir. It took me three years and countless hours to write my first book, and a year and a half to write the sequel, but now I can scratch another item off my mid-life list.
Tell us about your writing process.
I have to admit writing the French Illusions series was a lot more complex than I initially imagined it would be. My diary offered a great outline, but I realized early on that I would have to change the names of people and places in my stories to protect identities. This was especially true with regard to my host au pair family in book one. Acquiring permission from them was out of the question. Totally out of the question. If you read my memoir, you’ll understand. Additionally, over thirty years had passed since I spoke with anyone I’d met in France. I no longer had any contact information. With this in mind, I researched common French names that might fit my characters. I tried them out and retained the ones that were a good fit.
Other decisions haunted me along the way. Where would I find elusive data on the Loire Valley, the Loire River and the town of Tours? How would I find data on Paris from 1979? Hundreds of internet searches supplied most of the data and French editors filled in the the remaining blanks. Editors also helped me decide on how much French to sprinkle throughout the book and how to deal with my inner thoughts? Oh, and I really struggled with how much detail to include in my own love scenes. Wiping the sweat off my brow, I wrote and then rewrote these parts until I could read them aloud without squirming in my seat.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
More than once I scolded myself after I read a particularly disturbing entry in my diary. Something a long the lines of “What in the world were you thinking when you did that?”
What advice would you give other writers?
Hire a professional editor. I mean it. You can’t edit your own book. You won’t see the mistakes because you are too close to the writing. It will cost you a few hundred dollars for a line editor, a bit more if you need some in-depth editing, but it’s the best money you will ever spend. I cringe every time I read a negative review where the main complaint is editing. You want readers to judge you on the content of your story.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Once my manuscript was fully edited, I fashioned a query letter and emailed selected agents interested in memoirs. Several weeks passed and I received a handful of politely-worded rejections. In the end, self-publishing appeared to be my best option. Without an English degree or published articles, I knew there was very little chance I’d snag an agent.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The trend seems clear to me – self-publishing will become more and more popular, eBooks will dominate the market, and print books sales will decline.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: narrative nonfiction (memoir)
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.