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An Interview with Linda Joy Singleton

Conducted by Dr. Bob Rich

FF: Linda Joy Singleton is a popular author of stories for children. Or is it young adults…? I am confused. Is there adifference, and if so, which one are you?

Linda: Both! I’ve written midgrade books like the MY SISTER THE GHOST series and young adult books like the REGENERATION teen cloning mysteries. Mostly I just say I write juvenile novels, which covers all age groups.

FF: I have been intrigued by REGENERATION. Tell me about the series: where did you get the concept, how many books are there so far, what do you feel they achieve?

Linda: The idea for REGENERATION hit me in December 1997. It has been a few years since I’d sold a book and rejections were mounting. I needed to come up with a new series and the possibilities of cloning fascinated me. I imagined how a teen would feel to suddenly find out they weren’t an original, but a copy of someone else. Add some crazed doctors, enhanced powers and danger, and the idea began to take shape. I emailed my agent at the time and asked her if she’d like to see a series about teen clones. She wrote back three words: Yes, yes, yes! So I came up with the series title Psi-Clones. My agent suggested changing it to Sci-Clones. When it sold to Berkley the following October, they changed it to REGENERATION. They also changed and shortened my first-middle name to initials. I’d had 19 books prior to that under my full name, and I wasn’t happy with the change at first. I got used to it and liked how much quicker it was to sign when I autographed books.

Berkley contracted for three books, planning for a short series. But when Hollywood showed interest and Fox optioned the series, Berkley went ahead with two more titles. It was quite exciting for a while, imagining Hollywood buzzing about my series. As options usually do, this one lasted for just a year. The series ended, but fans kept emailing me for more books. Finally I gave in and wrote a sixth book, CLONED & DANGEROUS, which can be read at my website, www.LJSingleton.com, at no charge while I try to find a new publisher.

It’s heartwarming how many fans I’ve heard from and how kids really seem to indentify with the five main characters in REGENERATION. I’ve had a wonderful time writing this series — and hope that maybe someday I’ll be able to continue with more titles.

FF: Having a free sample to give away is an excellent idea. I do the same with one of my books. Has this led to sales, or at least feedback?

Linda: Other web sites are more eager to link to my site or mention it when I have something to offer readers, such as the free short story and free book. But the reason I honestly added those was because fans would email asking for another REGENERATION story. I do the contest to add some fun to the site and to keep fans coming back.

FF: Linda, you’ve told me that your newest book was released in April. Tell us about it.

Linda: I am VERY excited about DOUBLE VISION. It’s very much like my REGENERATION series in excitement, fast-pace and science- fiction twists. It [was published] in both trade paperback and e-book from www.AmberQuill.com in April 2003. I have a link on my web site with a preview of the first two chapters.

DOUBLE VISION; YA Paranormal Mystery
[Excerpt]

Strange things start to happen to 16-year-old Haley after she notices the Watcher. He looks like an ordinary teen, but his gaze is menacing as he observes her and her family at a restaurant. And then he’s gone – vanished — leaving behind a pair of shimmering silver sunglasses. When when Haley peers through the sunglasses, colors fade and her best friend becomes someone else. Freaked out, she vows never to use the glasses again. But the Watcher returns with deadly intentions. And after Haley is in a near-fatal car crash, she realizes the sunglasses are her only hope to prevent a murder. She slips on the glasses and enters a parallel world where dead people live and beloved friends die. To survive in this duplicate world, Haley plays out the ultimate masquerade — pretending to be the girl living a twisted version of her life: her parallel twin, Halee.

[END Excerpt]

The cover for DOUBLE VISION [is available] on my website.

FF: Linda, I have noticed on your web site that you offer information to teachers, and go and address classes of kids. What do you have to offer to schools?

Linda: I have several different programs depending on the age group. For K-3rd graders, I have an overhead picture program where I talk about writing as a kid and I show actual stories I wrote when I was 9 years old. I talk about the life of a writer; research, rewriting, and how I can stay at home for my work. I show pictures of my pets and my daughter’s pig farm, too — which kids really seem to enjoy.

For 4-6th grade, I talk about writing, favorite books, California missions, fantasy plotting, electronic books and I leave plenty of time for questions since this age group is full of energetic curiosity. They love hearing some of the fan letters I’ve received.

For 7-high school I play a game dealing with the topic of cloning as well as the business side of writing. I show manuscripts in various stages, share fan letters, and read from favorite books as well as some of my own. I always have a great time being around kids and sharing my love of books.

FF: Hmm, yes, cloning. That’s the theme of your REGENERATION serial, isn’t it? Many people, me included, get rather anxious about biotechnology and its possible effects. Can you give us a two or three paragraph summary of what you tell kids about it?

And I am no longer in school, not at my age, but I’d love to attend any of your three workshops.

Linda: I actually address this on my web site under school talks. What I like to do with older kids is ask them how they would choose whom to clone or how they would feel, if like my characters, they suddenly discovered they had been cloned. I’m not a scientist, but through research I’ve found some fun websites like one in PA where scientists have cloned jelly fish and rats to create a cloned glowing rat. Kids love these facts which I include for a “Who Wants To Clone a Millionaire” class game. I don’t draw any conclusions about cloning, and just let the kids discuss their ideas. I think it’s interesting to get a science fact versus sciene possibility discussion going.
My next book, DOUBLE VISION, deals with a parallel world. The main theme is pivotal moments — how each choice we make builds on our destiny. In my book, these choices are compared when 16 year old Haley comes face to face with her other self in a parallel world, where friends die and the dead live. I’ll have to come up with some new questions and games for THAT topic.

FF: What do you do when you are not writing, or promoting your books, or talking to school kids?

Linda: We recently bought 25 acres where we plan to move in a few years. It’s in Calaveras County with oaks and pines and streams running through wild weeds. When I’m there, I always walk around the trails, often with my little dog Lacey. There’s a mobile home and it’s cozy to sit inside by the big picture window and watch nature or read. I alternate between reading adult mysteries by favorite authors like Jan Burke, Jane Heller, Rhys Bowen, Dorothy Gilman or favorite juvenile books by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Willo Davis Roberts, Gordon Korman, and Eva Ibottson. Reading is the BEST pasttime.

FF: You won’t get too much of an argument from me on that one.
Except that writing beats even reading. I expect you must have inspired many youngsters to express themselves in the written word. What advice would you give to someone considering writing as a career or a serious hobby?

Linda: Read, read, read! Study the books you love the best. Network with other writers –the internet is a goldmine of information. One of the BEST writing sites is www.verlakay.com — the transcripts from writing workshops alone are fabulous. It’s like an online writing college.

Write, write, write. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Go with your muse for your first draft, then go backlater and rewrite. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Love what you do and enjoy the process. Good luck!

Copyright 2003. Dr. Bob Rich. All Rights Reserved.

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