HHAC Day 23: Linda Watkins

Linda Watkins currently resides in Western Michigan and, in another life, was a Senior Clinical Financial Analyst at the Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine. She was born on the east coast, but grew up in a suburb of Detroit. Upon graduation from college (Carnegie Mellon, '70), she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she lived and worked for thirty years. Taking early retirement, she moved briefly to Oregon, then to an unconnected island off the coast of Maine (Chebeague Island, ME).

She lived on Chebeague for seven years and it was there that she wrote her award-winning debut novel, MATEGUAS ISLAND. The physical characteristics of Chebeague served as the model for the island depicted in MATEGUAS and, in fact, the description of house the Andersen family inherits is based on the 150-year-old home Linda owned, right down to the buttercup yellow floors she painted herself.

Linda moved back to Michigan in the summer of 2013 and, in 2014, both MATEGUAS ISLAND and its sequel RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND were published.

Since publication, MATEGUAS ISLAND has been the recipient of several major awards:


2014 First Place Award in Contemporary Gothic, CHANTICLEER BOOK REVIEW, PARANORMAL AWARDS

2015 Outstanding Novel in Horror/Suspense, IAN BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS


Today, Linda lives with her three aging rescue dogs (Splatter, Spudley and Jasper) and is at work on the third novel in the series, GHOSTS OF MATEGUAS. Serious about dog welfare and rescue, all net proceeds from sales of THE MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES are donated to Linda's charitable trust, The Raison d'Etre Fund for Dogs, Dedicated to Rescue and Research.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I got serious about writing in early spring, 2010. Before that, I had only written poems, songs, and bits of whimsy for my own enjoyment. But in 2010, two things happened that changed all that.

First and foremost, it was something my sister, who is also an author, said about my writing. I had been cleaning out cupboards and happened upon a short story I'd written years before for my father's birthday. It was just a piece of fun fluff and I scanned it into my computer and, on impulse, emailed it to her. She got back to me saying something like, "and I always thought I was the writer in the family!" That got me thinking.

The second thing that spurred me to write a novel was the invention of the iPad. At that time, I was living on an island not unlike the one depicted in MATEGUAS ISLAND and depended upon a ferry to get back and forth to the mainland for appointments, shopping, etc. The boat only ran every 2-3 hours and that could mean a lot of 'down' time waiting. The iPad gave me something to occupy that time and, it was mostly on that device that I wrote the first draft of MATEGUAS ISLAND.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Number one would be finding the time to do it. I have two novels and a novelette out right now and, since I am independently published, it is on me to do all the promoting, advertising, etc. to get my work noticed. That takes a lot of time.

Secondly, editing and knowing when your work is truly finished. I am constantly tinkering with my writing; always looking for a better phrase or way to get my message across. But there comes a point when you have to put that baby to bed, but finding that point is not always easy.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Excited and scared. I actually published my first piece by mistake. I'd written a short prequel to MATEGUAS, entitled SECRETS, A STORY OF LOVE AND BETRAYAL, that spans the two years before Karen and Bill move to the island. I used that piece for a test run on Amazon. After I loaded the manuscript and cover up on KDP, I hit the 'publish' button thinking that, like so many other websites, it would take me to another page, showing a summary of what I'd done and then ask me again if I wanted to publish. Boy, was I wrong!

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) Character. My books are very character-driven. The supernatural elements act as catalysts to move the plot along and help the characters reach their final emotional destinations. I try to make my people as realistic as possible and then put them in unrealistic situations to see how they'll react. I like to read novels in which the characters are rich and complex and, thus, that carries over into my writing.

In print or eBook on Amazon,http://bit.ly/ReturnToMateguas
In print or eBook at B&N, http://bit.ly/RTM-NOOK
On Kobo, http://bit.ly/RTM-Kobo
On iBooks, http://bit.ly/RTM-iBooks

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) I am the 'mommy' to three aging, special needs rescue dogs and my world revolves around them. One is diabetic and having a very rough time right now; another is almost completely blind and exhibiting signs of canine cognitive disorder (doggie Alzheimer's); the third has severe arthritis in his rear hips and legs and travels with me once a week to Grand Rapids for laser and acupuncture therapy. Needless to say, they take up a lot of my time - walking, feeding, medicating, loving, etc.

When I'm not taking care of my 'kids', I'm usually at the computer either writing or promoting my work. When I'm working on a novel, I set aside blocks of time during the day to set down on virtual paper what I composed the night before. I do most of my writing in my head while I'm in bed, trying to go to sleep. It's then that my creative juices flow most readily.

For more information on The Mateguas Island Series, please visit

For more information on Linda and her other works, please visit her blog at

Win your very own  horror library.
Enter for your chance to win an electronic horror library that contains the following ebooks. Simply tweet to your friends about the Halloween Horror Author Countdown, enter as often as you want. On October 31st one lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a library containing the following titles.

Blood Lily by Jenny Allen
The Misadventures of Bob by Jaime Johnesee
A Jar of Fingers by C.L. Hernendez
A Coin for Charon by Dallas Mullican
The Human Condition by Mark Taylor
Spook Lights by Eden Royce
Mateguas Island by Linda Watkins
In the Hands of the Unknown A.E. Hellstrom
Winchester Over by Dave Lund
The Complex by J Rudolph
The Dead Song Legend by Jay Wilburn
Zombie and Chainsaws by Mike Evans
Flight of Destiny by Francis H Powell
Through a Mirror Darkly by Kevin Lucia
Awfully Apetizing by Leod D Fritz
Darkly Wood by Max Power
Family Reunion by P. Mark DeBryan
Slice Girls by Carmilla Voiez
Cannibal House I by Shaun Adams
Zombies Inside by Rebecca Besser
Dark Crescent by Dev Jarrett

There is more to come and the list will be updated as books are added.

There are several ways to enter to win.

On Twitter tweet the following message:

Have you read Mateguas Island?
#2015HHAC #BookBoost

Don't forget to use the hashtag #2015HHAC so your entries can be tracked.

On Facebook go to my Facebook fan page, like and share the daily post about the countdown.

Or you can comment on any or all of the countdown posts by answering the following question:

What kind of horror do you like?

During the month we will track everyone's activity, assigning each action a number and at the end of the countdown a random number will be drawn. The person whose name appears next to that number will be the winner.

There may also be daily contests as a couple of authors have expressed a desire to hold smaller giveaways on the day of their post. So check back often and enter as many times as you like by tweeting about the contest, don't forget to use the hashtag #2015HHAC so your tweet will be counted.

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