Linda Urban has a wonderful way with words (as well as being a wonderful person) which you’ll soon see, below. I usually write some form of introduction but I really think Linda does the best job of that. A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT is a book I wish I’D written, and her new one, HOUND DOG TRUE –well, it’s short and sweet and beautiful so I’ll let you read it for yourself, while you laugh and wince and sigh and laugh some more. Thank you, Linda!
What’s an important “nugget” that you’d like readers to take away from your book, HOUND DOG TRUE?
Mattie’s principal tells her that “you can’t have brave without scared”. I think that’s a pretty important thing to acknowledge, as is the fact that the most important things we do in our lives are usually the result of small brave steps.
When do you write?
I write best in the early morning, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep
Where do you write?
At the picnic table in our dining room. This is also the spot where the kids do their art work. Every once in a while we have to clear it off for company to eat at, but mostly it is a place where we make stories and art.
What helps you write?
Quiet. Also, for the novel I’m currently working on, I’ve found one short piece of music (Faure’s Sicilienne) that I have on repeat for my entire writing session. Tea is also nice.
How do your ideas come to you?
I don’t exactly know. It would be great to be one of those writers who says: I’m going to write about the Civil Rights Movement, or about a school biology project, or about a boy with asthma, but I can never decide what to write about and then do it. Instead, a line comes. A feeling of who said it or who that line relates to. I tend to discover a character or the beginning of a situation on the page.
This most recent novel was a little different. I got an image – someone on a sidewalk, waiting for a parade, looking at the back of a little girl’s neck where a strand of hair is curled with sweat. In that image, I got a feeling of anticipation and worry and a small town setting and a feeling of aloneness in a crowd – but also fun and humor. But what was it about? I didn’t know for a while after that. I had to write it to find out.
How long have you been writing?
About seven years.
How much of your book is autobiographical?
All of it and none of it. Some of the events have roots in my experience, but not many. All of the emotions are ones I’ve felt.
Do you have a favorite quote or bumper sticker?
Here’s one I’ve been thinking about a lot recently: “The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is.” Fred Rogers said that.
Why should kids read books when there are so many other things to do?
I don’t know if they SHOULD read, but I really do think that there is a book (or two, or two dozen) that will speak to every child and that reading it will give them that essential knowledge that they are not alone. I’d hate for anyone in the world to miss out on that.
Tea or coffee? Flavor? Milk or sugar?
At home I drink tea: PG Tips with milk and sugar. At restaurants, they tend to use those coffee carafes to heat up the water and it makes tea taste like dishwater, so I opt for coffee, also with milk and sugar.
Autumn. I can wear boots and tights.
What’s always in your fridge?
A jar of something fuzzy and unknowable.
Favorite comfort food?
Chocolate or some lesser nectar of the gods?
Flats or heels?
I love heels, but I live in the country and wear flats most of the time.
Jeans or fancier?
What I said earlier about heels? Same for clothes. I love nice clothes, but my life requires jeans (which I like, too, very much).
Ideal? Someplace that is quiet and restful in the evenings and early mornings, but has access to a bustling city with museums and music and theater and great food. If you know exactly where that is, would you tell me? I will go.
Favorite sport or form of exercise?
I don’t exercise often enough, but I do enjoy a good walk and I love the calm feeling I get when I do yoga.
Language in which you’d most like to be fluent.
French, although I suspect that Chinese or Spanish would be more useful.
Skill you’d most like to acquire.
It would be nice to be able to back out of tight parking spots.
Favorite musical instrument.
Cello. Or fiddle. Or piano. One of those.
You’re going on a book tour: Plane, train or automobile? I’m just glad to be going on book tour. I’ll take a scooter if I have to!
Topic you’d most like to write about.
I tend to write about very small things – and they always seem to do with family, memory, time, and identity. I suspect I’ll be writing those sorts of things forever.
Topic you think most needs writing about.
I really think that there are big issues – justice, inequality, religion, politics – that need writing about and I’m glad that other people take these subjects on.
Author you’d like to meet.
I don’t know if you’d call him an author, though he did write books. I’d like to meet Fred Rogers. I’m sad that he’s no longer in the Neighborhood, because I really would love to visit and thank him for the work he did for kids.
Question you’d ask that author.
I would ask him how he stayed so centered and so true to his mission, despite all that changed around him. Also, I’d ask if he would be my neighbor. I mean, how could I resist?