Time for me to introduce y'all to another great author from right here in the Texas Panhandle.
Linda Castillo has won numerous writing awards. Including the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Holt Medallion, and a RITA nomination. Her latest novel, a thriller titled, Sworn To Silence hits the shelves here in the United States this week. Earleir this week she was kind enough to answere a few questions about writing, her novel, and life here in Amarillo.
HI Linda, first let me thank you for taking the time to join us for My Town Monday here at my blog. And speaking of my town, I should actually say OUR town since you live here as well. But I know you haven't always called the Texas Panhandle home so how about you start by telling us about a few of the places that you have lived both as a child and an adult. And what brought you to the Amarillo area in the first place.
Thank you for having me, Travis. You have an awesome blog, and I’m so happy to be here talking about the new book.
I’m originally from a small farm town in Ohio, population: 79. My husband and I lived in Dallas for 17 years. We love that part of Texas, but we were ready to leave all that hustle and traffic. So when Ernest got transferred, we were ready and moved to Bushland (Bushland is just a few miles west of Amarillo on I-40. It and Canyon, TX are the closest things Amarillo has to suburbs) in April in 2005. We love living in the Panhandle. The people are so incredibly friendly and the traffic is almost non-existent. The only thing I could live without is the wind. I spend as much time as I can outside, riding the horses mostly, and sometimes that prairie wind is quite violent!!
If I count correctly you have 20 novels already in print, and another due this week. How have the places you've lived shaped your writing and how do you go about choosing the setting for your novels. And have you considered using Amarillo or the panhandle as the setting for a novel?
Well, close enough. I’ve actually written 22 books, but then who’s counting? The places I’ve lived have definitely shaped my writing. I mentioned earlier that I’m originally from a small farm town. Even though I spent seventeen years living in a huge metropolitan city, I never forgot the rural lifestyle, and I never forgot my roots. SWORN TO SILENCE is set in a small town in Ohio’s Amish Country. I’ve heard that writers should stick to writing what they know. Well, small town Ohio is so imprinted on my brain and so much a part of me that writing the setting was second nature.
I'm glad you brought up your latest your latest novel since it is the subject of my next question. Sworn To Silence is already out in the UK, and scheduled for US release this week. I know it is the tale of a woman going back to the Amish country of her youth. Can you tell us a bit more?
The idea of writing a big thriller has always appealed to me. Here’s a summary of the book: Sixteen years before the story opens, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community of Painters Mill, Ohio. A young Amish girl, Katie Burkholder, lived through the terror of the Slaughterhouse Murders. In the aftermath of the killings, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence, and for Kate, a realization that she didn’t belong.
Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return as Chief of Police. Her Amish background combined with her big-city law enforcement expertise makes her the perfect candidate. Kate is certain she has come to terms with the past…until the first body is found, brutally slaughtered in a field of pristine snow.
Kate vows to stop the killer. But no one knows about the secrets she kept as a fourteen-year-old Amish girl. Dark secrets that bind her to a madman and threaten the life she’s built for herself in Painters Mill. Kate knows if she doesn’t succeed, the violence of her past will repeat itself, and this time she may not survive . . .
I'm eager to read the novel and I love the premise. The contradictions between a small rural Amish country, and a brutal serial killer are quite compelling, but then when you add in the history and inner turmoil of your protagonist Kate Burkholder the blend is all the more gripping. However, Amarillo Texas is vastly different from the setting of your novel? Did you spend a lot of time in Amish communities researching the novel, and characters, or did you already have the necessary knowledge to write Sworn To Silence?
I love the juxtaposition of wholesome versus evil. And I couldn’t think of a more interesting setting for my book. As a writer, I wanted to explore the culture. I wanted to write a protagonist that could immerse us in that world. A character torn between two cultures—cultures that many times clash. I wanted to inject something terrible into this wholesome small town to see how this diverse character handled that kind of stress.
As far as research, I made a trip to Ohio in April for the book’s “pre-launch” tour. Some of the St. Martin’s folks and I traveled from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati to Dayton, where I did some newspaper interviews and we met with some really wonderful booksellers and librarians. When the pre-launch was over, I rented a car and drove to Holmes County and the area where I’d set Painters Mill. Talk about fun! It’s was absolutely fascinating to travel the same roads I’d written about and visit some of the places I’d mentioned in the book. I did quite a bit of research online, but nothing beats a personal visit.
Speaking of Amarillo and it's differences from other parts of the country, what one thing that surprised you most when you first moved here? What one thing do you miss most from your former homes?
What struck me most about Amarillo is the vastness of the land and the wide open spaces. I *LOVE* the stark beauty of the Panhandle. Another thing that struck me is how friendly people are up here. Dallas is generally a pretty friendly town, but not like the Amarillo area. That’s not to mention the lack of traffic! After living in Dallas for so long, the fact that you can drive across town during rush hour is a pretty amazing feeling. Aside from friends and family, I guess what I miss most is trees. And when it gets really dry, I miss rain.
I know from your website, that you have another passion besides writing. Tell us about your love for horses.
Aside from writing, there’s nothing I love more than talking about the horses. If you let me, I’ll talk your ear off. My husband and I own two Appaloosas, a mare named Missy and a gelding named George. This being Quarter horse country, we sort of stand out in a crowd, if you know what I mean. My husband I have ridden Palo Duro Canyon and one of the area ranches. I ride almost every day, wind permitting. I love seeing the land up close and personal. Give me a dirt road or a rocky trail, and I *have* to know where it leads or what’s around the bend. Sometimes I love to ride fast. I barrel race both horses, but my mare is faster. Much faster. I’ve run a 17.2 on George, which is pretty much a 4D time. Missy is still in training, but she’s got a pretty good foundation and I’m going to start running expos this summer. I’m thinking about taking George to the Llano Estacado endurance race this fall. He’s not fast, but he’s got a lot of stamina and can really cover some ground.
Do you think about your fiction while you are riding or is it a chance to clear your mind and concentrate on other things? Have you ever written any characters that share your passion for horses, and if so what novel did they appear in?
These are such great questions. Usually when I ride, I’m in the moment. It’s one of the few things I do where I’m not worried about something else. I sort of recharge and, yes, clear my mind when I ride. But I must admit, I have conceived a book idea that very much deals with horses. I’m not sure if it will ever get written, but the premise appeals to me very much and it’s fun to think about doing.
So now that Sworn to Silence is finished and headed for best seller-dom I'm sure you are hard at work on your next project. Can you tell us anything about it yet?
Well, one can hope. SWORN TO SILENCE is the first book in a continuing series, featuring both Kate Burkholder and BCI agent John Tomasetti. I just completed the third book. A couple of days ago, I heard from my editor and he loved it, which was really gratifying to hear. (it’s not always the case!) I’m excited about the series and currently have two more ideas for two more books.
I want to thank, Linda for taking the time to answer my questions. For any of y'all looking for a good read, you can't go wring by reading any of Linda's work. I know I'm eager to pick up my copy of Sworn To Silence. Which I will be doing at the first of Linda's two local signings. If you are in the Amarillo area I hope to see you at ...
Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 7:00 PM
5512 Gem Lake Road
Amarillo, Texas 79106
But of you can't make that signing. Try this one
Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 2:00 PM
Barnes and Noble Booksellers
2415 Soncy Road
Amarillo, Texas 79124
Please check back throughout Sunday and Monday as I ad links to post about other towns all over this globe. (I may be a tad tardy adding links this evening as I celebrate Father's Day)
Jenn Jilks -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Chris -- Hong Kong, China
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Mary -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Cloudia -- Honolulu, Hawaii
Gary Dobbs -- Pontypridd, England
Terrie Farley Moran -- New York City, New York
Junosmom -- Kentucky
Barrie Summy -- Oceanside, California
Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan
J Winter - Cincinnati, Ohio
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada