Questions for Lin
Q. Why did you write your novel, Who Is Mackie Spence?
A. I have Sunlight Affective Disorder (SAD), and lack of light in the winter reduces my energy level. To stay alert, I set a challenge to write a story that had lots of action and suspense.
Q. Was it difficult to write in the voice of Jeremy, a sixteen-year old boy?
A. Growing up, I had close friends who were guys. My lead character, Jeremy, came into focus almost immediately. I wanted him to be someone who, though not goody-goody, has admirable qualities. He’s a composite of boys I knew growing up, and boys I wish I’d known better.
Q. What kinds of qualities do you most admire in people?
A. I’ve always been drawn to dry humor, quirky imagination, and kindness.
Q. What about Mackie? How did you come up with her role?
A. I needed someone who would intrigue Jeremy. My goal was to develop her as an extraordinary girl who lives her life as a normal girl. She has the same interests as other high school juniors, but there’s this mystery about why animals heal so fast when she’s around them. Her character forces Jeremy to wonder about the story’s underlying question: Is life governed by self-will, or is it governed by fate, or maybe it’s a combination of the two?
Q. You seem to know a lot about wild animals. How is that?
A. I grew up in Indiana near a large pond and feeder stream. In the summer, my friends and I explored the woods, and in the winter we ice skated on the pond. I tuned into the seasonal patterns for birds, squirrels, and frogs. As my reading skills improved, my knowledge expanded to animals all over the world.
Q. In the book, you write about cross county training and competition? Did you run?
A. Fortunately for serious runners, no. I would have been an obstacle on the course. My aptitude wasn’t racing; it was observing. Beginning in eighth grade, I wanted to figure out why some runners, teams, and coaches had more success than others.
Q. What makes a great coach?
A. An outstanding coach knows a sport’s fundamentals every which way. A great coach also pulls out the best in an individual’s performance. He, or she, earns respect by leading through example. And yeah, having a sense of humor does help!
Q. Most writers speak glowingly about the benefits of writing. Are there any downsides?
A. (Laughs) Oh yes! Top on my list is that there’s less time for reading. And reading is what every writer needs to do to keep from becoming too self-absorbed.
Q. What happens when an author becomes self-absorbed?
A. The biggest pitfall is that characters begin to reflect only the writer’s personality and values. Characters need to feel like people who populate the world – diverse, with ideas and actions that are in contrast to the writer’s own life.
Q. Besides reading, what do you like to do for inspiration?
A. I find some TV shows and movies influence me. Right now in the universe of teen TV, I’m watching Pretty Little Liars, and Teen Wolf.
Q. Really, Teen Wolf?
A. Right. The writers are developing contemporary mythology, and the character development feels complete and entertaining. Plus, the casting is pure genius.