Release Day Author Spotlight: Laura Linn, author of A Wildflower for a Duke
Take a minute to get to know Laura before you check out her debut novel, A Wildflower for a Duke, now available on Amazon. Congratulations, Laura!
How long have you been a writer?
I believe there are some personal traits that have no beginning or end. Like a rainbow, they just are. Writing has always been that for me. When I was a child and I wanted to have ice cream before dinner, I negotiated terms by writing letters to my parents. As I grew into an adult, my ability to turn a phrase on paper surfaced in whatever interests I pursued. On my fortieth birthday, I impulsively bought the cheapest laptop I could find, and decided that I would write what I most enjoyed reading: historical romance.
What inspired you to write A Wildflower for a Duke?
It all started with Gabriel. He was the character that wiggled his way into my imagination and refused to retreat. I was listening to the song “The Conversation,” from Mary Poppins Returns, and was absolutely stricken by Michael’s raw sadness. He is desperate to be the parent that his children need, but feels as if his compass and heart died with his wife. So few HR heroes experience that kind of all-encompassing love before the heroine arrives, so I began to wonder what it might look like if my hero had loved and lost. It would take a truly magical heroine to inspire passion within a heart perpetually frozen in winter. Only the most colorful wildflower could awaken him to spring … and so, Violet was born.
What appeals to you about writing historical romance novels?
With the constant barrage of technology we face, and the speed at which technology compels us all to move, I find the simplicity of the Georgian era refreshing. At the same time, my characters are right on the cusp of so much invention and change. I feel a little bit like a parent on Christmas Eve, aware of what’s inside every mystery box long before the children tear off the paper. In 1824, the friction of the Industrial Revolution was causing massive shifts within the classes. From the first large-scale strikes to the invention of the steel plow, those aristocrats unwilling to embrace change would be crushed beneath its awesome force. And, while whispers of women's suffrage were still taboo, and nearly a century would pass before any real equal rights would be given, I find those early voices fun to speculate about.
How do you find the time to write? What does your writing process look like?
Writing while homeschooling two young children and running a nonprofit is a bit of a magic trick. But if you want the rabbit to come out of the hat badly enough, you just have to keep reaching in until you come out with a handful of fur.
The first draft of A Wildflower for a Duke took around eight months to complete, and was written mostly while I ignored suspicious noises from the other side of the house, hoping that my children hadn’t once again made a potion in the toilet out of food coloring and my favorite conditioner. I am what the writing community refers to as a “pantser,” meaning that I write by the seat of my pants, completely shunning all recommendations by my third grade teacher to write an outline. I put a fair amount of thought into my hero and heroine’s goals, fears, and idiosyncrasies, and I had a few scenes in my head that I used as landmarks along the way. Beyond that, however, I just followed where my characters took me and tried to keep them headed in the right direction.
Is any character in A Wildflower for a Duke particularly near and dear to your heart?
As this book was my very first attempt at a novel, I adhered to the advice to “write what you know.” And so, I created Violet, an imaginative, impulsive, bluestocking mom of a child who is a little out of sync with conventional society. Rather than stomping out her son Zach’s individuality, she tries instead to teach him the skills required to make sense of the world around him, while still preserving and cherishing all his differences. There was a certain amount of vulnerability in writing that relationship as it so closely mirrors my own relationship with my daughter. As you follow their journey and feel the emotion and connection that bind Violet and Zach, you’ll see a glimpse of my adventures as I parent my very remarkable daughter, who (like Zach) also happens to be autistic. There are too few neurodiverse characters in historical romance, so it gave me great joy to write two more into the world.
Another of my absolute favorite characters is Christopher Keene, the valet and childhood best friend of Gabriel (our hero). Because he has known Gabriel his entire life, he serves as the rudder for Gabriel’s emotional journey with a steady supply of forthright, witty, and completely unsolicited advice. Pretty much all my favorite scenes star Keene, which is why he gets to be the hero in book two.
Who is your favorite author right now?
There are so many brilliant authors—writers who have created unforgettable stories and characters so real in my imagination, it’s as if I know them. But if I had to pick a current favorite, I would say Courtney Milan. With the perfect mixture of compelling plots and flawed heroes that you cannot help but rally behind, she takes on complicated issues like social justice with a poignancy and eloquence that really raises the bar for historical romance. Some others I adore are Lisa Kleypas, Joanna Lowell, Mia Vincy, Laura Kinsale, and Tessa Dare.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Don’t you know what a terrible question this is? How could I possibly pick only one! Since I am feeling lighthearted at the moment, I will go with my favorite “warm hug” of a book, The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan. This is one I almost always listen to on audiobook because the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, does such an amazing job bringing the characters to life. Everything about this book is beautifully refreshing and unexpected, from the sunshine hero who doggedly (and quite adorably) pursues his heroine, to the heartwarming relationship between the heroine and her father. The banter, the rich cultural detail, and the romance are perfection from the first page to the last.