To coincide with the launch of her book The Paradise Trees, my guest this week is author Linda Huber. Since reading Linda’s responses to my questions, I confess to having had a burning desire to buy a house (or a rundown cottage or cabin, more realistically) beside a remote and beautiful lake…
How did you come up with the title of The Paradise Trees? When I started this book it had the working title The Watcher. I liked that because of the questions it threw up – who was watching and why? Who was being watched – and did they know? However, an Amazon check revealed that Watchers abounded in the world of fiction, especially in psychological suspense, so regretfully, I gave up that idea. Part of my book takes place in a wood, and I started to think about this. The watcher in the woods was aiming to send his victims to Paradise… The Paradise Trees hit me one day when I was ironing.
What are settings in the book and do they have any particular significance? The book is set in a trio of fictional villages in Yorkshire (photo below). My uncle and aunt lived in Ilkley and I’d often visited them, so I knew the district quite well. The story needed a peaceful area with little villages and lots of surrounding countryside, woods, of course – but it also had to be within easy travelling distance of a larger town or city where a minor character attends an international conference. Yorkshire and York were perfect. The villages were modelled on a few I’d visited on a Scottish island, and the woods are right outside my flat here in north-east Switzerland – it’s kind of an international setting.
Where do you write? Describe the state of your desk. What is your ideal writing set-up? I’m glad I didn’t have to send a photo of my desk! ‘Organised chaos’ would be a good description, but it works for me. I like to have my notes, pens, markers, post-its, water glass, tissues, memory sticks, specs, diary, sweeties etc etc right there when I’m writing. We moved into this flat three years ago. It’s a hundred yards or so from lovely Lake Constance in the top right-hand corner of Switzerland. Between the lake and my flat is a belt of woodland, so in winter, I can sit at my desk by the window and look out at the lake glinting between tall tree trunks, with Germany a dark smudge on the opposite bank. In summer, I see trees and green only, but that’s beautiful too.
Who are your favourite authors (or favourite books) and did they influence or help to inspire your writing? Back in the day, I devoured Mary Higgins Clark’s books as soon as they came out. I still have them all in paperback, and a couple of the later ones written with her daughter on kindle. Her characters are amazing – real people, the kind you can identify with. And then she puts them into such horrible situations… The thing that struck me most is that her main characters are all strong women. Often there’s a man around in the background, but the women box their way through the books alone. I like that. My all-time favourite is A Cry in the Night. I would love to write like that. Another must-read writer was Ruth Rendell, both as herself and as Barbara Vine. And nowadays there are so many new writers it’s hard to keep track of them all, but I have a small handful whose books always shoot to the top of my TBR list.
What are the best and worst things about being an author? The best thing is having such a flexible day – no office hours! The worst thing is, you have to find the discipline to sit at the computer every day when the sun’s beckoning you out. Then there’s the solitude – that can be the best and the worst thing at different times in the same day.
What will you be working on next? I’m writing another suspense novel, fairly early days with that because my main project at the moment is the third of a series of feel-good novellas under my pen name Melinda Huber. They’re set right here by Lake Constance; so I can walk by my lovely lake every day and call it research…
Book blurb: The Paradise Trees
He had found exactly the right spot in the woods. A little clearing, green and dim, encircled by tall trees. He would bring his lovely Helen here… This time, it was going to be perfect. When Alicia Bryson returns to her childhood home in a tiny Yorkshire village, she finds her estranged father frail and unable to care for himself. Her daughter Jenny is delighted at the prospect of a whole summer playing in the woods at the bottom of the garden, but as soon as Alicia sets foot in Lower Banford, strange and disturbing memories begin to plague her. What happened in her father’s house, all those years ago? But coping with the uncertainty and arranging Bob’s care plan aren’t Alicia’s only problems. Unknown to her, she has a stalker. Someone is watching, waiting, making plans of his own. To him, Alicia and Jenny are his beautiful Helens… and they should be in Paradise.
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Currently she teaches one day a week, and writes psychological suspense novels and feel-good novellas with (a lot of) the rest of her time.
Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she turned to psychological suspense fiction, and her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.
Linda’s latest project is a series of feel-good novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance and just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!
Author & book links
Amazon author page: viewAuthor.at/LindaHuber
The Paradise Trees on Amazon: getbook.at/TPT2
Author website: http://lindahuber.net/