An Interview with Cecilee Linke
This week, I had a chat with my long time friend, author, musician, and artist Cecilee Linke. I’m sure you’ll love her as much as I do.
AW: Which author wasn’t your greatest inspiration, but did make you think, “Maybe I could be an author”?
CL: There was one person in particular who made me think I could try being an author. And it was the relatively little-known (even in France) 19th century French author Eugène Fromentin. When I was in France in 2006, I picked up a book called Dominique, thinking it would be about a woman. But I’d forgotten that Dominique is the French form of the male name Dominic. The writing was very flowery at times, but I got sucked into the story, and I eventually took the time to translate that book from French into English. Reading his work and then translating it into English made me think that I should try writing something like he did. He was actually a painter who was better known for his depictions of life in French Algeria in the mid-1800s, but he was inspired to write Dominique from his own personal experiences. And I thought, well, if he could write something semi-autobiographical, maybe I could take my own experiences and do the same with my own stories!
AW: Tell me about the first time you thought, “Wow. I’m a real author!”
CL: The moment I thought, “I’m a real author” was when I laid out my books on the table that my husband Andrew and I shared for a local convention. I only had a few books at that point, but seeing all the print copies laid out on the table, ready for people to come and peruse, made me feel like, Wow, I’ve actually done it, I’ve actually written some books and people are going to buy them!
AW: I’ll be interviewing Andrew, an author in his own right, later on this month! What’s the oddest part about your routine that you simply must do in order to sit down and write?
CL: I always have to make sure I have some tea! I’m a big fan of black teas. Usually the blacker the better! My favorite is pu-erh, a smoked, fermented Chinese tea. Yum!
AW: What is your biggest writing obstacle?
CL: Honestly, it’s coming up with a good enough idea that I want to see through. If you don’t like the idea to begin with, it’s going to be hard to sit down for hours on end developing characters and writing in that world. I come up with potential story ideas all the time, but then I begin to lose interest in writing about it, so it gets abandoned.
AW: How do you prefer to network, and what impact do you think those avenues have had on your sales?
CL: It’s weird, I’m an introvert at heart, but when it comes to my work, I could talk for hours! I love to network at local conventions. I like talking with people face to face about my work and people really enjoy getting to talk with the person who wrote those books. Andrew and I like to go to as many of the local conventions as possible, and you’d be surprised that even at a science fiction/fantasy convention, my historical fiction/realistic young adult fiction still sells!
AW: What is one mistake you’ve made in your publishing career that you’d like to warn other authors off of?
CL: Make sure you proofread your books before you upload them to Amazon. I’ve made some glaring mistakes in my books that I thought I had under control but it turned out there were still typos. I’m always embarrassed by typos!
AW: Is there any advice you’d like to give to a new writer?
CL: If you want to write, sit down and write. A writer writes. A singer sings. You can’t actually write if you don’t sit down and commit to writing. Start with a thousand words a day. It sounds like a lot, but once you get into the routine of it, you can pump out a thousand words in relatively little time. And when you write, don’t think too much about whether it all sounds good. Just write! You can edit later.
AW: What are you currently reading?
CL: I’m currently reading a nonfiction book about the history of the Berlin Wall. Andrew and I watched Atomic Blonde last year and it got interested in reading more about that time in history. I find myself reading more nonfiction these days because I love learning about time periods I didn’t learn much about in school.
AW: Have any super fans found you yet, and if so, what sort of things have they done that seem surreal to you!
CL: Twice a year, we attend Tidewater Comicon, and it was from selling our books at that convention that we came to network with some folks who come to our table at every convention to see what we have. One of our fans is a young girl named Miranda who is super enthusiastic every time she comes to our table. She buys any and everything new on the table (Andrew and I try to have at least one or two new books at every convention) and she then shares it with all her friends. It’s really sweet and she’s awesome! Another fan is an older gentleman who doesn’t have a lot of time to read, but he too buys anything new on our table. He was especially drawn to my historical fiction books because of the family dynamics, which he could relate to.
AW: When people read your books, what do you want their greatest take-away to be?
CL: There are several things! When people read my historical fiction stories, I want them to know more about a place they haven’t heard of before (in my case, Wash Woods, Virginia, a ghost town near the border of Virginia and North Carolina) and see how these people in this long-lost place may have lived (I picture something like Little House on the Prairie but set in a seaside town with reliance on seafood rather than buffalo, but still having to live off the land and do what you can to survive).
When it comes to my young adult stories, I want people to realize that not all young women are into makeup, dating, falling in love with boys all the time, etc. I like to write about teenagers who are interesting characters who do interesting things. Each of the five main characters in the Traveling Society series are different and the focus of the story is never on romance. It’s more about friendship and these characters finding themselves. One of the girls likes to upcycle thrift store clothes and wants to be a fashion designer. Another loves to draw and wants to get into video game design. Another wants to be a musical theater performer. When I was a teenager, I didn’t care for romance stories. So I like to write my stories for those people who don’t want a romance, but who want to see people finding their way in the world and figuring out who they are!
Extra bonus: Cecilee was live on FB last night, singing some contemplative songs. I let her play in the background while I worked on some reviews and interviews. So she and I occasionally talk back and forth between her songs. You can find the recording here.
You can find Cecilee:
Continuity Editor & Virtual Assistant
Hello! I’m Adriel Wiggins, wife, mother of three, fur mom, bibliophile, art geek, and all around student. I’ve been on a quest all of my life to learn as much as I possibly can about everything I possibly can. This has helped me tremendously in what eventually became my life’s purpose: to help other people become the best version of themselves. It is in that line that I became an assistant.