Today in the Library we have Linda Covella, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.
You are very welcome, Linda, please introduce yourself:
Hello Pam and visitors! My varied background and education have led me down many paths, but one thing I never strayed from is my love of writing.
In writing for kids and teens, I hope to bring to them the feelings books gave me when I was a child: the worlds they opened, the things they taught, the feelings they expressed.
I have four published novels for middle grade and young adult, and a recently released narrative nonfiction picture book. I’ve been a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since 2002. I live in Santa Cruz, CA with my husband, Charlie, and dog, Ginger.
Did you read much as a child?
I’ve been an avid reader from an early age thanks to my mother who was a school librarian. Also an artist and choral singer, she taught and encouraged me to embrace all the arts.
Are you an avid reader now?
Yes. I must always have a book to read!
Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I read a wide variety of genres and books for both adults and children. I enjoy reading middle grade and young adult books, but I also read them for the education, i.e., learning technique and craft from other children’s writers.
I read most genres, but not a lot of romance or thrillers. I’ve always loved historical fiction and still am drawn to those stories. I get more into character than plot (though of course the plot has to be engaging), so if a story includes deeply realized characters, I’ll enjoy it.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
Both. My first books (Yakimali’s Gift and The Ghost Whisperer series books) were originally traditionally published with small presses. One went out of business, and I ended up self-publishing these books as well as Cryptogram Chaos.
My latest book, The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is traditionally published.
Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. With self-publishing, you have more control over the publication, the content, the layout and presentation, and how quickly it’s published. But more costs and time are required for covers, publication, editing, etc.
With traditional, you have support of the publisher who pays for the cover, editing, initial publication, etc. The Power of a Dream has beautiful illustrations by an artist hired by the publisher.
Either method requires the author to do marketing!
Which genre do you write in and why?
I’m a children’s author, and I love writing for children, having them as my audience. Kids and teens have such unique perspectives on life. I absolutely love hearing what’s on a kid’s mind—at any age.
The youngsters are always fun to watch as they show their amazement and delight with each new discovery—discoveries that we have long since taken for granted.
During the middle-school years, kids are starting to come into their own, learning who they are and flexing their maturity muscles. Their independence is beginning to flourish as they start to question things and form their own ideas and opinions.
I have a great respect for teens. By that age, they’ve developed their own one-of-a-kind personalities and strong viewpoints on all sorts of topics. They rightfully question things and begin to test and stretch the limits that are attempting to rein them in. Believe it or not, I can still remember those feelings from my own teen years, and it’s an exhilarating time of life.
I think writing for kids keeps me in touch with the feelings from my childhood. It also encourages me to keep an open mind when I’m with kids, to remind me they are unique individuals, and to give them that respect.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I’d have to say my mother. First of all, she taught me to love reading, and reading is so important if you want to be a writer. When I started pursuing writing professionally, she was my biggest fan, always encouraging me to keep at it, to never give up.
Of course, other authors and the books I’ve read my entire life have influenced me as well. But it’s difficult to pinpoint any one author who’s had the biggest influence.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
I love being creative, and writing is one outlet for that. But the best thing is when I get a positive reaction to one of my books, especially from the targeted audience—kids and teens. The worst thing? That would have to be the marketing, especially personal appearances. I’m not a practiced public speaker, so those are difficult for me. But it’s getting easier each time!
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I like the aspect of social media that allows me to reach out to so many people. I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter. I recently joined Instagram, so I’m working on building up my following there. I also have accounts on Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and book trailers on YouTube.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I never thought of writing as a career. Instead, I ended up with a few degrees—art, business, mechanical drafting, manufacturing management—while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. Now, besides writing, I run my and my husband’s small tech business (we have a product my husband, an electronics engineer, designed). I also volunteer with the local Young Writers Program where I mentor kids and teens in the classroom.
Please tell us about your latest published work.
My latest book, released February 26, 2019, is a narrative nonfiction picture book: The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer.
The story tells of a little-known part of U.S. history when, in 1775, some of the first Spanish settlers embarked on a colonization expedition from Mexico to California. THE POWER OF A DREAM focuses on Feliciana Arballo, an inspiring, brave, and remarkable woman, especially for the time in which she lived. Her husband died before the expedition began, and, as a young widow, Feliciana made the arduous four-month journey with her daughters: the infant Estaquia and four-year-old Tomása. Her husband, and thus her daughters, were looked down upon as mestizos, those of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage. As many immigrants do today, she followed her dream to have a better life in California for herself and her children, including eight more children she had with her second husband. Feliciana is referenced in the diaries of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, who led the expedition, and Father Pedro Font, who also went on the journey. The book includes my two author notes: one discusses Feliciana’s background and her descendants, many of whom played important roles in the history of California; the other author note provides a background of the expedition itself.
The primary audience are children ages 5 – 10 (grades 1-4), as well as parents and teachers who can use the book to teach children about this important part of U.S. history and how it relates to today’s issues of race, immigration, heritage, and the value of diversity.
Thanks so much for the interview, Pam. I really enjoyed answering these questions.
If you would like to know more about Linda and her work, check out her links below: