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Informational Interview – Brooke Pennell

2017 April 14
by pennellb

For my informational interview I interviewed the author Linda Bradley. I really wanted to interview an author because that is ultimately my dream job. I first asked Linda how she got into writing and she said she started writing books in grade school. I found this answer amiable because I too wrote my first book (a term I use loosely) when I was in second grade. It was titled Maine and was basically a short story about falling in love (or what I thought at the time falling in love was).
She says that there are many skills that being a writer requires including patience, correct grammar, clear communication skills, people watching skills, being prepared for criticism and rejection, and being social media savvy; are all skills that she has found helpful in her years as a writer. She says that having patience is important, especially with yourself. As for clear communication skills she says that she often will let an email sit for a day before she sends them so she can reread through them and make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes. She has learned that people watching has helped her develop characters and voice in her novels. She says it’s important to be prepared for criticism, that it doesn’t necessarily mean that what your writing is bad, but to learn to take the constructive criticism because it can only make your writing stronger. She also says that being prepared for rejection is a good skill to have, she knows many writers that have worked for nine or ten years before obtaining an agent or signing a contract. Lastly, in this day and age it’s super important to use social media platforms.
I asked Linda what the thing she least likes, or would like to change about what she does and she said it’s being on social media. She said if she could, she would hire a PR person to do all of that. When asked what she likes the most about her job is connecting with readers. She said she recently received a review saying that she changed this girl’s life, and that it was very powerful and very touching.
Linda is also a full-time second grade teacher. A typical work day for her includes being in the classroom until school is over. After that she says she comes home or does errands, and usually catch a second wind around 8pm. This is when she begins writing or tasks related to writing which includes social media. I asked Linda what jobs in the past have helped her the most being a writer and she said all of them. From a fast-food worker to a elementary teacher to a parent; each one of them has taught her something about human nature and thus has helped her in creating characters in her novels. She says “Characters are people and you have to understand people to connect with your characters.”
I also asked Linda how she sees the industry changing over the next ten years. She told me that she can’t really say, however she says when she first started attending writing conferences it was almost a joke to say that you self published. But now a lot of writers are doing it. Still, Linda publishes through a small company in New York called Soul Mate Publishing but would like to self-publish in the future just to see how that process works. I thought that Linda’s definition of literary success was very humbling. She says “Writing a book that readers can connect with.” From there, it’s about connecting with readers and creating a fan base. It’s Linda’s goal to be a hit on the best-sellers list someday and she says that creating a fan base that continuously draws in new readers through suggestions from friends and colleagues will help her achieve this goal. When asked what helps her become a better writer she says “Writing my next book, reading what I like to write, and networking with other authors.” And lastly, I learned from Linda to not give up. That’s her advice to anyone trying to break into the field, is to not give up, to be forgiving of yourself when you make mistakes. She says everything you do is a learning process and it’s important that you don’t forget that.

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