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Transcript: Authors Love Readers with Laura Marie Altom
Patricia McLinn [00:00] Welcome to this week’s Authors Love Readers podcast, where we delve into the stories behind the stories. We’re asking authors questions, some of them fun, some of them serious. And from their answers, you’re going to learn things you never knew about the people who write the stories you love. My name is Patricia McLinn. I’m your host and designated question asker.
Laura Marie Altom [00:23] I’m Laura Marie Altom and I’m an author who loves readers.
Patricia McLinn [00:28] Now let’s start the show. Hello, and welcome to this edition of Authors Love Readers, the podcast. Today we have Laura Marie Altom as our guest, and we were just chatting a little bit beforehand and was saying, this is going to be interesting because we don’t know each other as well as a lot of the, um, previous people that I’ve had on. We would have had to be friends for 30 years, to know each other as well as a lot of the others.
Laura Marie Altom [01:00] We better get started.
Patricia McLinn [01:04] Yeah. Well, we’re at least a year in, right?
Laura Marie Altom [01:04] Oh, definitely.
Rodeo Knights and Renegade
Patricia McLinn [01:06] We were part of a, uh, group effort called Rodeo Knights with a K. K N I G H T S um, where we all released a book, um, in mid-June, June 20th. And it stemmed from three books that were originally done, um, about Rodeo Knights with Lisa Mondello—
Laura Marie Altom [01:29] Lenora Worth and Margaret Daley.
Patricia McLinn [01:30] Margaret Daley. Right. And they had done these three connected books, um, two years before. And then they said, uh, come back and invited ten of us to write books that, uh, touched on the same, connected to the same characters, but took the series, um, in different directions, which was really interesting.
And we were, we were on a group and we would, you know, say, well, I’m doing this with them. Or, you know, if so, if so-and-so gets married at this point, what does that do to, you know, the, the previous characters have to attend the wedding. So, so they can’t be out doing something else that weekend. And, uh, Laura’s book as Renegade, such a great title.
Laura Marie Altom [02:18] Thank you.
Patricia McLinn [02:20] —immediately makes me think of the, of the song, um—
Laura Marie Altom [02:23] Oh, it’s such a great song.
Patricia McLinn [02:26] Isn’t it. So tell us, tell us a little bit about your story Renegade.
Laura Marie Altom [02:30] It’s a, um, it’s part of my SEAL Team Disavowed series, which is a first for me because I’m kind of known through Harlequin for baby books, but I really love adventure books. So I’ve been doing this romantic suspense series with SEALs.
And, um, Margaret Daley, who you mentioned earlier, is kind of my bestie. She lives like a mile from me and she writes really awesome romantic suspense. And, I dunno, we were just talking at Olive Garden one day, and I said, You know, I’ve never done a serial killer book, but gosh, that seems just really harsh, I don’t know if I could do it or not. She’s like, yeah, you can do a serial killer. So I, yeah, we just did a serial killer. Um, but it was like, I’d never done anything that grizzly and, uh, I had to do quite a bit of research, you know? Blood coagulating—
Patricia McLinn [03:20] Yup.
Laura Marie Altom [03:21] —really creepy topics, uh, that I wasn’t in my normal wheelhouse, but I, I was real happy with how it turned out, and it just took some crazy turns.
Patricia McLinn [03:30] Yeah. I was just going to ask you, if you found that doing that research affected your mood.
Laura Marie Altom [03:35] It did. And it made me just feel real, like icky. Like then the book after that I had to research like nuclear weapons. And, you know, I was on those websites and like trying to get off really, really quick, I didn’t get on any crazy FBI list or something, but yeah, no, it’s, it was happy subject.
Patricia McLinn [03:57] Hey, authors could keep the, uh, NSA occupied full time.
Laura Marie Altom [04:00] I know, right?
Patricia McLinn [04:02] If they started going down the rabbit hole—
Laura Marie Altom [04:04] It’s scary.
Patricia McLinn [04:05] —of our searches. So, okay. Let’s go back and ask some, some short fun questions—
Laura Marie Altom [04:12] Alright.
Patricia McLinn [04:13] —here, just to get to know you better. What’s a surprising job that you’ve held.
Laura Marie Altom [04:18] I used to be a, um, nurse’s aid. And I guess it’s not so much surprising, but a friend of mine one summer, her mom was like a hospital administrator. And this is back in the days when like nurses wore hats and it was just very, I don’t know, formal and lovely and just kind of romantic, romanticized profession, um, or it’s still a fabulous, uh, if, if I wasn’t a writer, I think that’s one of your other questions, but I would definitely be a nurse cause I’m just, I love them, but yeah, it was just such an amazing job. Um, just loved it.
Patricia McLinn [04:55] Hard job too.
Laura Marie Altom [04:57] Oh my goodness, yeah. I’d go home. My feet would just be killing me, but just so rewarding.
Patricia McLinn [05:02] That’s terrific. Oh yes. Great, we said, we said, if there was dog barking on this, we would, we would just keep going. Cause we both have dogs. That was Chewy.
Laura Marie Altom [05:14] Yes. She’s a Yorkie.
Patricia McLinn [05:17] Okay. We were, we were trying to determine whose dogs, whether her three dogs would out bark my one dog or not.
Laura Marie Altom [05:23] I win. Yay!
Patricia McLinn [05:24] Well, she went first. We still haven’t done volume yet. Okay. What’s your favorite color and why?
Laura Marie Altom [05:31] Oh, I love aqua, and so, but not just any aqua. So like think if you’re like in Bora, Bora, the Maldives or even Mexico, like that kind of aqua of the ocean where it’s like really sandy, but blue and just like barely there. Does that make any sense at all? But—
Patricia McLinn [05:59] Well, I’m going to have to go to Bora Bora.
Laura Marie Altom [06:01] Well, yeah. I mean, I’ve only seen it in pictures. I call it like Caribbean blue or tropical blue, but just that—
Patricia McLinn [06:05] Ohh. Yeah.
Laura Marie Altom [06:07] —crazy iridescent blue.
Patricia McLinn [06:09] And what do you, so you associate it clearly with the water—
Laura Marie Altom [06:13] Right.
Patricia McLinn [06:14] So, okay. That’s a wonderful color. Do you have a favorite taste?
Laura Marie Altom [06:18] Uh, butter.
Patricia McLinn [06:21] I love that.
Laura Marie Altom [06:24] Ranch dressing.
Patricia McLinn [06:26] I like butter better. I think I’m with you there. Okay. Most writers have a bad habit word in there, that keeps cropping up, and a lot of us go back and check for it and take it out. And I have already admitted here that two of mine are just and really. Very slips in there too.
Laura Marie Altom [06:43] Oh my God. Just, really, very, uh, seeing how there, like the phrase, seeing how such and such, and it doesn’t mean, yeah, it doesn’t even make sense, but, yeah, very’s getting very bad lately. I’m having a lot of those, but you know, they come out easy enough. So it’s all right.
Patricia McLinn [07:04] Search and delete. Yeah, I do that with ands too, starting the sentence with an and.
Laura Marie Altom [07:11] Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Patricia McLinn [07:12] But then there’s some that needs—
Laura Marie Altom [07:15] Sometimes it works. It really does.
Patricia McLinn [07:18] Yes.
Laura Marie Altom [07:19] And I’m all about the rhythm and I don’t know. I, I was a band geek all through school, and a lot of my writing is very like musical in a weird way. Like if it doesn’t musically work in my head, then it’s off.
Patricia McLinn [07:33] Cause you hear it in your head.
Laura Marie Altom [07:34] Right.
Patricia McLinn [07:36] And then you, um, when you’re finishing a manuscript, did you play it back? Some people have the computer speak it back to them for a final edit. I do what I call a mumble through where I have a manuscript and I mumble it, it’s so I’m hearing the things. If I talk it, if I say it full voice, I lose my voice over the manuscript. That’s why—
Laura Marie Altom [08:00] I can totally top that. I have to read through it, not just me, but, in a fabulous British or Australian accent. And then I will catch everything. I do it like I’m performing a play.
Patricia McLinn [08:13] Oh, that’s cool.
Laura Marie Altom [08:15] No, and the dogs just look at me like you are crazy. No, I just, um, read it out loud in the craziest accent and sometimes the accents blend, but it’s, I don’t know, it makes it just fun instead of just, you know, drudgery, because at that point you’d read the thing so many times you just never want to see it again.
Patricia McLinn [08:37] Well, I wonder if doing it in an accent to kind of separates you, gives you a little separation from, from knowing what it should say.
Laura Marie Altom [08:46] Oh, maybe that’s it.
Patricia McLinn [08:50] Which is a lot of times what, when you’ve been working on a manuscript a lot, you stop seeing the errors because you know what it should be and, and that’s what your mind fills in.
Laura Marie Altom [09:00] Interesting.
Patricia McLinn [09:02] That would be very interesting. If I could do accents, I’d try.
Laura Marie Altom [09:04] Oh, mine are atrocious. But it’s, it’s just fun.
Patricia McLinn [09:07] That would be fun. Well, you should record one. Wouldn’t that be a riot?
Laura Marie Altom [09:13] Really, there would be great money in that, if I could do my own audiobooks.
Patricia McLinn [09:17] And in an Australian or British accent.
Laura Marie Altom [09:20] I know, right?
Patricia McLinn [09:22] A whole new cottage industry.
Laura Marie Altom [09:25] I get my Okie-Arkie twang out of there.
Pioneer camp, Bigfoot, and Angel Baby
Patricia McLinn [09:30] Do you have any strong fears, and do you use them in the book?
Laura Marie Altom [09:34] All right, I’m going to lay this sat there cause we’re, we’ve been friends 30 years, right?
Patricia McLinn [09:40] At least. Well, we’re starting on thirty years.
Laura Marie Altom [09:44] All right. When I was a little kid, my mother screwed up my summer camp reservations, and instead of my usual cushy cabin setting with my eight girls and, you know, the pool and all that, I had to go to pioneer camp. Gag. So here, I mean, I still like my Marriott’s today.
So, you know, I was out in a field in this tent and the bugs and the weeds and everything else. And one night I got up to pee and, um, I’m thinking it was probably 50 yards. I swear to God, I saw Bigfoot. Um, it was white, like a white ape. It’s the craziest thing to this day I have ever seen. And it scared me. Like even right now, like I kind of break out in sweat, like it was bad. And you know, I, I told counselor and everybody just went back to bed and I just laid in my bed, you know, praying I’d survive till morning.
And, um, I mean, I’ve told my parents about it and my mother’s like, Ah, somebody was putting a costume on just to make fun of you. I’m like, Mom, it was like three AM. Who’s going to have my white ape costume in Northern Michigan just to scare the children at 3:00 AM, like in the sev— you know, when is this, the seventies, I don’t know. But, um, Ever since then it just creeps me out. Like if I, you know, so I’m kind of scared of the dark. That’s a very long way to say I’m scared of the dark, uh yeah.
Patricia McLinn [11:16] Scared of the dark. I have multiple questions. You answered one. I wanted to know where it was and, uh, have any, um, Bigfoot researchers ever contacted you?
Laura Marie Altom [11:27] Um, oddly enough, I used to dabble in a group. And, um, I was so outside the norm that it just didn’t work. Um, you know, these are guys who are very comfortable carrying around AK 47s and, you know, with the snake things and tromping through the woods. And, you know, I just had my nails done and I really don’t need chiggers. And it’s just a little much, but, um, I did hear one time, I heard one of the wood knocks, and again, it was such a, just visceral fear. I remember it had just poured and I thought, Okay, good, you know, we’re safe. Nothing’s going to get us after it rains. And the clearest most vivid wood knock off, you know, like, you’d think you were watching one of the silly, that finding Bigfoot show or something. But I mean, it was like somebody had taken a baseball bat to a tree, and I mean, we were, there’s no way, I mean, I was with the people we were with, and it took a good hour or two four-wheeling to even get where we were. So it wasn’t anybody else. I don’t, I don’t know what would have made it. I still think about it to this day. I don’t know what made that noise.
Patricia McLinn [12:40] Then do you take the, um, that fear, whether it says, well, that specific fear have you used, you know, either fear of the dark or, or the more specific Bigfoot—
Laura Marie Altom [12:55] I would say Bigfoot has made cameos in quite a few of my books at least three or four, and he’s actually in the one … Oh my goodness, it might be out right now. Um, a Harlequin, it came out in November. It’s called The Cowboy SEALs Christmas Baby, and my hero finds, or he thinks he hears a baby crying and he’s a horse whisperer and he’s taking, um, this horribly scarred, mentally scarred horse on like its graduation ride in a hail storm or sleet or somehow storm and here’s a baby crying, but anyway, he finds a lady in a tent who just had a baby and she can’t remember how she got there, or what’s going on. But anyway, I’ve kind of flirt with Bigfoot in that.
Patricia McLinn [13:43] That’s cool. And sort of expiated that fear fight it that way.
Laura Marie Altom [13:51] And I collect, I have a fabulous Bigfoot T-shirt collection and little stuffed dolls and yeah, but it, I mean, it’s something that has stuck with me my entire life. Like, I, I don’t know what I saw. I don’t know what it could have been beyond that. And I mean, I was old enough to, to where, you know, wasn’t like a little kid having a fantasy or something. I mean, I definitely knew about boys and it was, uh, I don’t know.
Patricia McLinn [14:19] So the two other questions that, that one that occurs to me immediately is, was this on the way to the bathroom or, I hope, on the way back?
Laura Marie Altom [14:27] No, it was to and I don’t know—
Patricia McLinn [14:31] Oh, no.
Laura Marie Altom [14:32] Yeah. I mean, I had to have like wet my sleeping bag or something, I don’t know. Like I don’t have any remembrance of what happened after that. Other than trying to wake my counselor. She just rolled over and I climbed back in my sleeping bag and that’s all I remember until morning.
Patricia McLinn [14:48] Awww.
Laura Marie Altom [14:49] Yeah.
Patricia McLinn [14:50] Poor kid.
Laura Marie Altom [14:51] I know.
Patricia McLinn [14:52] And did you ever go back to pioneer camp?
Laura Marie Altom [14:55] Oh, no, no, no. That was my last year I ever went to summer camp.
Patricia McLinn [14:59] Okay. Sort of a segue from that. Do you have anything from uh, segue from, uh, Bigfoot are not easy. So now, but do you, do you have, um, other earlier in life things that you fretted over that now you just don’t care?
Laura Marie Altom [15:18] I guess when I first started this crazy journey of being a writer, I was just absolutely obsessed with selling my first book. And, you know, it was probably my family and friends were just like, shut up already. you know, you’re never going to sell a book to shut up about the books we don’t want, we don’t care. And, um, it was just an absolute obsession, would I ever sell a book? So probably that, I mean, that’s what first comes to mind.
Patricia McLinn [15:49] How did you get interested in. And selling a book and wanting to write and publish.
Laura Marie Altom [15:55] My grandmother was, um, just brilliant. She’s a University of Chicago graduate and just all about the classics and always, uh, wanted me to read. And, um, problem came in, uh, her and my grandfather, this, we lived in Michigan at the time, and they would winter in Palm Springs, California, and so I would go stay with them at their condo and there’d be all these fabulous older ladies who were missing their grandkids, and they would just take me in.
And so one in particular, her name was Helen, she would bring over sacks of Harlequin romances that she had read. And, um, my grandmother, you know, she say, Here, these are for you, Laura. And my grandmother would just, I can tell you know, we’re going to take those straight to the Goodwill. And I read every romance, stay up all night read.
Laura Marie Altom [16:55] And I think it was in junior high. It just occurred to me, Well, I want to write one of those. So I set up a very strict schedule where I was going to write like a page a day and I kept it up for probably a good 70 to 80 pages, and that’s when I was on a typewriter and I don’t know. And yeah, junior high happens. I’ve found out about boys and quit writing and stuff. I don’t think I took it out again until college.
But once I had my twins, uh, affording daycare for twin newborns is just nuts. So I, we decided that I was going to stay home, and I think I was just cleaning out the attic one day and came across that manuscript. And I thought, and by this time we had a PC, you know, at our house that, you know, and back in those days, all it had was a word processing program, probably Dig Dug or some weird pong game or something.
Laura Marie Altom [17:48] So, uh, yeah, so that’s history, but in those days, I mean, there, I guess there was RWA, but that was the only organization and there were no self-help books at Barnes & Noble, there was no internet. You really had to want it.
Patricia McLinn [18:03] Yeah. I stumbled into going to, um, RWA cause I, well, it’s a long story, but, uh, librarian helped me and said, Oh, we’re having a talk here by, um, a romance writer and it’s Kathleen Gilles Seidel, who is, um, one of the original authors for Harlequin America—
Laura Marie Altom [18:24] Wow, that’s my line. Huh.
Patricia McLinn [18:26] —And has done a lot of, um, single titles subsequently. And there were four of us who went up to her after the talk and within, I think within two years, two of us were published.
Laura Marie Altom [18:38] Wow.
Patricia McLinn [18:39] One was the president of the local, the local chapter. I don’t know what happened to the other one. She was a slacker.
Laura Marie Altom [18:46] Yeah.
Patricia McLinn [18:47] Kathy Seidel did pretty well out of that talk.
Laura Marie Altom [18:48] Oh, that’s great.
Patricia McLinn [18:49] So—
Laura Marie Altom [18:50] That’s a great story.
Patricia McLinn [18:51] Yeah.
Laura Marie Altom [18:52] Thank you.
Patricia McLinn [18:53] RWA has helped a lot of us, but there wasn’t, there wasn’t anything.
Laura Marie Altom [18:57] You really had to want it. And you had to like, be a detective about it. I mean, yeah, all of my first manuscripts were mailed in and I didn’t even know really how to do that. And I would print them on like a hundred percent cotton paper and like make it all fancy.
Patricia McLinn [19:13] Yeah. And then at the first, um, RWA, Washington Romance Writers, um, which is the DC chapter of the RWA, first meeting I went to a lovely woman named Nancy Richards Akers came up to me at first person to talk to me and said, What are you writing? And I said, A book.
Laura Marie Altom [19:33] Yeah.
On a desert island with Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey, and Michael Biehn
Patricia McLinn [19:34] Okay. One of my favorite questions to ask is, what three movies would you take with you to a desert Island? I know this is weird because how many desert islands let you play movies?
Laura Marie Altom [19:45] Oh, mine would. Definitely.
Patricia McLinn [19:47] Lets not get particular.
Laura Marie Altom [19:48] No, it would.
Patricia McLinn [19:50] So which three movies, but you only get three movies.
Laura Marie Altom [19:53] Um, you’re so mean just three, huh? Okay. I’m going to say Great Expectations, but the Ethan Hawke Gweneth Paltrow version and it has amazing soundtrack. I really love the underdog story to it. They’re both very beautiful, and just the colors and the cinematography. It’s just fabulous. K2, which is a very underrated mountain climbing, movie. Uh, I think Michael Biehn, is he the one who played Terminator? I think so.
Patricia McLinn [20:30] I don’t know.
Laura Marie Altom [20:32] Well anyway, K2, fabulous mountaineering movie. If you haven’t seen it, you should. And then, um, let’s go with Contact, because—
Patricia McLinn [20:41] Interesting.
Laura Marie Altom [20:42] —it’s just such a, I remember seeing it the first time it was so riveting to me because, you know, you got to think something’s out there. And I really loved how, if there is something out there that really could be the way it goes down. I don’t know. It just, just seemed very fascinating to me. And you know, you can’t go wrong with Matthew McConaughey. So, yeah, I’d have Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey and Michael Biehn all with me on the island.
Patricia McLinn [21:14] Okay. So that’s the thread, I was trying to figure out. Aha, now I see. Do you have a saying that your mother or father used to say that now you hear yourself, coming out of your mouth all the time?
Laura Marie Altom [21:26] I really don’t. I no, I mean like Grandma always used to say like, c’est la vie and stuff like that. Um, it’d probably be more of like a, you know how your parents are like, Yeah, we approve, but you can tell they don’t approve kind of a thing. Caught myself doing that with my kids. And my kids are like 25. So really it’s, you know, not my issue anymore, but it is. I’ve made you, I will always approve or disapprove.
Patricia McLinn [21:54] All right. So we have some questions from readers that I will kind of sprinkle in here, but let’s start with one. Where, and this reader says, Where do your stories come from? I know one author who dreams her stories. Another has a character suddenly taking up residence in her head. So how are your beautiful stories born?
Laura Marie Altom [22:16] Oh, that’s so hard. I used to have really vivid dream books, but they were like epic and like, you know, back in the, I guess it would have been eighties where they’re like 500 pages long, that kind of stuff.
And one that stuck in my head, it was all I remember is that the hero rescued this, I dunno, let’s say she was 15. And he was like an 18-year-old GI, and she was like a Hawaiian girl. And somehow he like took her in and it was kind of just this sweeping saga of they never met up at the right time. Like he somehow got her to school and then while she was doing that, he got married and then.
She was out of school and then she got married and then his wife died and then, you know, how back and forth they used to go. And, um, I wrote out this crazy detailed outline and somehow that got lost in the move and it just made me so mad that I just never went back, but it would have been amazing. I have no doubt, but nowadays it’s almost like, I don’t have an organic flow to it because I’m so scheduled so far out as far as series or, you know, even my work with Harlequin, I have very narrow parameters as to what my brand is and quirks, that it takes a little bit of the fun out of just being able to write whatever you want to write.
Patricia McLinn [23:56] But you’re doing some, um, indie writing too.
Laura Marie Altom [24:00] Yeah. I mean, cause I’ve got my Disavowed series and it’s planned up through ten books. So, you know, I’m just starting seven. So, you know, I’ve got that. And then I just started a new SEAL Team: Holiday Heroes. And I’m finishing up book two in that, but that would be a twelve book series. So I’ve got a lot to go there. I do have some, uh, like book of the heart projects that are with my agent, but, you know, we’ll just see what happens. Uh, those would go with, you know, Big Six publishing houses.
Um, and then I’ve got other books that are just total, I, I want to write a dystopian so bad and I’ve got one started. Um, and my agent’s like, no, oh, there’s just no market for that. I’m just like, well, tell that to all the movies that are on.
Patricia McLinn [24:51] Right. And, and tell that to your muse, to whatever is pushing you to, to write that.
Laura Marie Altom [24:55] Um, you know what, just for fun, I might start writing, like, I don’t know, 250 words a day on that book, just so I can have something. Cause it’s, I just want to write that book. I don’t think I answered that question at all. I’m sorry.
Patricia McLinn [25:08] That’s quite all right. That’s quite all right. So you mentioned the sweeping saga book idea you had, that you outlined it. Do you always outline?
Laura Marie Altom [25:17] No, usually I will outline, well, I always have to do a synopsis for Harlequin. I would say I outline about once I get to know my characters, maybe by page a hundred, just so that the story stays tight. I will then do a rough scene list. And I’ve, I’ve been at this enough now that it’s, I kind of just organically know if something’s going to work or not or what it needs, you know, a little more of here or there. So no, to always formally outlining, but yes, to just kind of listing the closer I get to the end of what scenes I want to include.
Patricia McLinn [26:03] Do your books tend to follow your synopsis?
Laura Marie Altom [26:06] Synopsis, no. Even my list, synopsis maybe 25%. I mean the general flavor’s going to be there. But, I don’t know about you, but my characters, they just talk and I don’t, they just kind of take over and people show up and I’m like, who are, who are you? You know, like if you’re supposed to be here, they just take over.
Patricia McLinn [26:27] Well, one of the delights to me of being an independent author is I will never write another synopsis in my life.
Laura Marie Altom [26:34] Oh my gosh. They’re horrible.They really are. They’re they’re just such a creativity sucker.
Patricia McLinn [26:40] Now, when did you publish your first book? When did it get published?
Laura Marie Altom [26:44] I think ’97. Yeah, my kids are 25, so they were born in ’92. And my first book came out and they were in kindergarten. So ’97.
Patricia McLinn [26:55] Do you think that having that book published, that first book published, did it change how you approach writing or, or your process or—
Laura Marie Altom [27:04] Well, it made me think I was hot you know what, and, um, I mean, I was just a superstar and, you know, there’d never been any better writer in the history of the world and, um, I can go back and look, I just got the rights back to that book and I just kind of hang my head in shame like, Oh dear. Oh, dear. So if anything now, it’s like, I know I have so much to learn, but back then, no. So in that first book, uh uhn, it, I was done like get out my Emmy Academy award, Rita, whatever you got, I’ve earned it.
Patricia McLinn [27:44] That’s interesting how we, we keep becoming better writers. And, uh, I think, uh, I’ve taught writing and one student was saying, they’d been editing this book for three years and I said, Stop, you know, you just got to stop. And they said, but I’m better. I’m better. And I said, Of course you are, but you’re going to be on an endless cycle. You are never going to finish that book. You’ve got to let it go and go write something else.
Laura Marie Altom [28:13] Let it go. Yep.
Patricia McLinn [28:15] And then at that point, you will be better at the end of it than you were at the beginning. And you’ve got accept that and go on to the next story.
Laura Marie Altom [28:21] Yep.
Patricia McLinn [28:23] Where do you think your love of story came from? Do you think it was from the, your, well from your grandmother and that friend of hers? Or was it other things?
Hippies, boaties, Lake Michigan, storms
Laura Marie Altom [28:33] I was thinking about that. I think, I was an only child and spent a whole lot of time alone. Uh, we grew, or I grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan, and back then it was not like wild or anything, but, you know, there was lots of places that a kid could safely just get on their bike and not come home till dark. And I would, I had this game that I’d play where I’d like, pretend I was Barbara Walters and like interview just random miscellaneous people, whether they happen to be there or in my head, I don’t know. I was a weird little kid.
You know, my parents, we got around, like they were kind of hippies and, um, we were always like, they were real boaties. And not really yachties in a fancy sense, but more boaties, I mean, we always had a boat. We were always sailing. We crossed Lake Michigan several times. And, um, I think I just, I was alone so much that I would just was playing with my Barbies and spinning stories.
Patricia McLinn [29:39] And you’ve got to tell people who are not, I grew up in the Chicago area and went to Northwestern, which is right on the western side of Lake Michigan. But you’ve got to tell people who maybe are not familiar with Lake Michigan that it’s not a—
Laura Marie Altom [29:56] Oh no.
Patricia McLinn [29:58] —passive little lake.
Laura Marie Altom [29:59] Oh no. And we were in a—
Patricia McLinn [30:00] So sailing across it is impressive.
Laura Marie Altom [30:03] —hellacious storm and we left, and I’m sure there’s a sailing reason for this, but we left it dusk out of, um, I think South Haven, Michigan, and we were headed toward like the Milwaukee area, I think. I don’t know, couple hours in, and this was before radar, I mean, you didn’t know if a storm was coming or not. And, um, just hellacious storm. I mean that bro was he heaving something terrible.
And my dad, he loves to sail, I mean, he grew up in a family of sailors. And I just remember my mom, like I kept wanting to peek my head out of the hatch, you know, my mom, like just pushing me back down kind of like whack-a-mole, you know, like, no, just stay down. You’re going to die. I mean, just the water is like coming up over the bow. Oh, it was bad.
Patricia McLinn [30:52] Oh, wow.
Laura Marie Altom [30:53] Very bad. And actually—
Patricia McLinn [30:55] Have you used that in any books?
Laura Marie Altom [30:57] I need you though, but the problem is with, and I’ve got another… Oh, this is another dream story I had, um, that I can’t quite write because of the technical logistics. Um, and when, if you’re writing a book that’s totally taking place on the sailboat, there’s so much technical stuff you need to know to make it come across as realistic that it’s just daunting. Um, so anyway, no, I haven’t yet, but yeah, that was quite an experience.
Patricia McLinn [31:28] Unless you did it, um, they’re really close third person or first person from the point of view of somebody who was on the sailboat, but didn’t go sailing.
Laura Marie Altom [31:37] Ohh, that is brilliant. That is absolutely brilliant.
Patricia McLinn [31:39] Yeah.
Laura Marie Altom [31:40] Thank you, Pat. Like for reals.
Patricia McLinn [31:42] You’re welcome. I’ll look forward to that book.
Laura Marie Altom [31:45] I never thought of that.
Patricia McLinn [31:47] I look forward to reading that book. Yeah, because then you have the emotion, and you have the additional fear of the character not knowing what’s going on.
Laura Marie Altom [31:56] I love that. Thank you. All right, you’re going to get credit at the start of that.
Patricia McLinn [32:00] Well, thank you. So do you have other books that are in, now these are, well, the one you had outlined, but the, more in your head, do you have books that are like half finished or completed, but not published? And—
Laura Marie Altom [32:16] So many. I have so many orphan book babies.
Patricia McLinn [32:22] I feel about that way about them too. Do you give up on them or do you keep thinking this can come together?
Laura Marie Altom [32:32] Nah, one of these days. It’s not that I ended it, I just ended it just time restraints. Um, there’s just, and I got a break my Bravo TV habit, and then I would probably have tons of time, but, and Lifetime movies.
Patricia McLinn [32:48] Okay, re-readers out there, you have to get Bravo to stop broadcasting and we’ll have lots more books from Laura.
Laura Marie Altom [32:58] Um, they didn’t, yeah, it just comes down to time, which I need to be a much better time managemer, managamer. That’s a good word. So I mean, it’s, let’s say, so I’ve got one called, um, Kissing Frogs, and it’s like a time-travel where this prince comes back, and this was real old school. This was before I’d killed, um, Dorchester Publishing. So, um, I would love to do the sequel for that. And, um, I’ve got probably the first three or four chapters, and they’re really fabulous. Like even today, I still love those chapters and I got to get that out.
Um, I’ve got a little, uh, kind of a tween book called I’ll Die if I Don’t Make Cheerleading. And then the sequel is I Made Cheerleading and I’m Still Going to Die. And that’s another one I’m probably halfway through. I need to just go ahead and just do it. Yeah. I’ve got a ghost book. Oh, my God, I’m just obsessed with it. And actually, Harlequin took a nibble on it. But for one of their online only reads and the terms were just atrocious. I’d rather just sit on it. But anyway, so yeah, I’ve got lots and lots of book orphans.
Patricia McLinn [34:11] Yeah. I have a time-travel. Um, but just one time travel story idea, but it keeps coming at me and coming at me. So at some point—
Laura Marie Altom [34:20] See, and that’s the problem. How do you, how do you, I don’t know if reconcile is the right word, probably not, but you know, there’s such a tight focus these days on author branding. But, yeah, I want to do more time travels. I want to do a horror book. There’s so many things I want to do, but it’s not in my brand. And how, you know, how do you do that? Just do it?
Patricia McLinn [34:43] Well, I do, but that’s part of being independent and, um, you know, just wanting and doing what I want to do. So I started a mystery series and I’m going to start, I think, another mystery series and I have some other, um, wild ideas and I’m just going to do it and hope people enjoy it. But if they don’t, here’s part of my, my philosophy is that if you, if you please yourself as the author, that’s the only time you are assured, absolutely assured of having one person who loves the book.
Laura Marie Altom [35:20] True. True, true, true.
Patricia McLinn [35:22] So, and you spend all the time with, you know, you spend months and months with it. So my first goal is to entertain myself and, and get far enough along in the book that when I hit the bad spots, I feel guilty if I don’t complete it because I-I’m leaving these characters hanging. So that’s, that’s my, um, use guilt to write books.
Laura Marie Altom [35:47] Oh, I love that. Yeah. I can see that. That makes a lot of sense.
Patricia McLinn [35:49] And now, do you have a writing routine?
Laura Marie Altom [35:52] My routine would be my lack of routine. I usually get up freakishly early, like, I don’t know between five and six and I’ll get a whole bunch done by say nine, but then by that time, you know, hubby’s up, and he works from home now and he, you know, travels when he has to go do other things. So he’s a real imposition to my day, usually.
So yeah, once he gets up, it’s just whatever whim strikes him. Yeah. As long as he’s in his office working good, then I’m okay. But then, you know, once I get out of that Goldilocks zone, it’s really hard to get back in because then you start answering emails—
Patricia McLinn [36:35] Yes, it is.
Laura Marie Altom [36:36] —and your marketing, your social media stuff. And there’s always some old fire burning somewhere but, you know, So, you know how it is.
Patricia McLinn [36:43] It’s always easier to, to click from the creative to the practical, than it is from the practical—
Laura Marie Altom [36:50] Right. Right.
Patricia McLinn [36:51] —back to the creative. Yeah. So you have to protect that. And do, do you write in a specific place? You mentioned your husband’s office. Do you have your own office?
Laura Marie Altom [37:00] Well, here’s the thing, I have a fabulous office and I absolutely love it, but I also have a 15-year-old, uh, deaf and blind Dachshund. And she gets really disoriented. And so if I go upstairs, so then I have my, the rest of the posse. So I’ve got this giant dog that was supposed to be my daughter’s, but somehow he ended up mine, and he’s kind of a lab-mutt mix. And then I have my little bitty four-pound Yorkie, and then I have Coco, and she’s the blind one and she weighs probably 15 pounds.
So I basically to go up to my office, I have to have the dogs, so I have to have the Dachshund, the Yorkie, my laptop, my reading glasses, whatever I’m drinking. I mean, it’s just really easier just to write at the, the kitchen table. So that’s where I am. So, you know, bless her heart, one day Coco will move on to doggy heaven, but until then, you know, she’s content behind me, and… I have to kind of, my daughter of this idea where it’s like a little, uh, settee for one side of the table and then two chairs on the other. So it’s really comfy. So me and all three dogs fit very comfortably on the couch. There I am. And now—
Patricia McLinn [38:20] Don’t, don’t tell Kalli that she’s not supposed to be on the furniture ever. Although I’ve got it, I know that she comes and checks on me and sees how occupied I am in my office. And then she comes down to the, in lies on the couch in the family room. I thought she was checking on me. You know—
Laura Marie Altom [38:41] Of course she is.
Patricia McLinn [38:42] —she loved me.
Laura Marie Altom [38:43] No?
Patricia McLinn [38:44] No. It was, see if the coast is falling on the couch.
Laura Marie Altom [38:47] Oh, no.
Patricia McLinn [38:48] Yes. So once you get going on a book, what’s your favorite part of the process? Do you love, you know, deep in the throes or are you, uh, many of us talk about the middle being bad, but I know a few authors who love them.
Laura Marie Altom [39:00] No.
Patricia McLinn [39:02] Do you love those, or do you like—
Laura Marie Altom [39:04] I really do. It is, writing is so uncomfortable. I don’t know what there, it’s just, once I’m in the middle, I have to get it out of me. It’s awful. That sounds really weird. It’s just the most uncomfortable feeling and my mood darkens, the more anx my people were going through, like, I’ll catch myself, like my mood kind of reflects them. And, yeah, I just want it done.
Patricia McLinn [39:30] That’s why I wondered about the research. If that affected you. And I could see where the combination of that sort of, um, research into, um, serial killers and stuff like that, combined with the characters going through tough times would, would really bring you down and yet be a satisfying book to write.
Laura Marie Altom [39:50] It’s very, it’s a very, very strange process, that I, and I, I don’t even understand, like, I’ll read the book, say months later, I’ll pick something up or it’s nice on Kindle now. So since I’m in a series, I can refer back to, you know, books such and such and do a quick search on it and I’ll read it. I’m like, I don’t even remember re, writing that. It’s so strange.
Patricia McLinn [40:15] Do you, sometimes you talked about your first, first book and reading it now and going, Oh dear. But, do you ever read things that you’ve written and gone—
Laura Marie Altom [40:24] Oh, sure, sure. No, absolutely.
Patricia McLinn [40:28] Yeah.
Laura Marie Altom [40:29] Um, yeah, no, lots, quite a bit, but yeah. It’s, I think when I say something’s bad, it’s like passive and I say like a lot, Yeah. I need to cut all my likes. But just the passive phrasings of things, like I write so much tighter now that it’s very annoying to see huge chunks of just passive garbage. Like just chop it off.
Patricia McLinn [40:56] I think that’s something that a lot of us learn, and also, the writing has changed in those years. So a question from a reader is when, when you finished a book, do you find yourself missing those characters or thinking about them. Where they are now, you know, after the, after the book or, um, or thinking about different things in the book. And, and then I would add on the question to that, Has that ever led you to write a follow-up book, because you are still thinking about them?
Laura Marie Altom [41:30] Probably not so much with my series books because they are so tightly deadline controlled, but I wrote a four-book series for Loveswept that were all in first person, and those people are still with me. I love those books. So yeah, I think, I think they’re the only ones. I mean, every once in a while, I’ll have some characters you liked better than others, but—
Patricia McLinn [42:01] Do you think you’ll go back to them?
Laura Marie Altom [42:03] Probably not. Uh, I mean, it, it’s very complete. And it’s, again, in the end it’s owned by the publishing house, so I really don’t have any rights to anything. Um, and I don’t, you know, as far as the world, I pretty much covered, I mean, you can always add somebody in, but I just, I don’t see it happening.
Patricia McLinn [42:24] Which of your stories has surprised you?
Laura Marie Altom [42:28] Probably, it would have been in that same series. And the fourth book in that series, I knew had to be centered around Garrett, who was just an absolute despised character throughout the first three books.
And he was a straight up bastard, just a horrible person, and the things he would say to people, it was just like, Oh, you know, I would even think, how can he say that? So when it came time to do that fourth book, I, I just was like, how in the world am I going to redeem this guy? Yeah. I didn’t even like him.
How was I going to make a reader like him? And my editor, Sue Grimshaw, and she’s a saint, uh, absolutely adore her. She said, what if you did a stepbrother book? I’m like, what are you even talking about? She goes, well, there’s this hot, new trend where, you know, people get involved with their stepbrother.
Patricia McLinn [43:34] Oh, my.
Laura Marie Altom [43:35] I’m like, Okay. I’m always game for an experiment. And lo and behold, it kind of came out that like, Garrett is so grumpy because he has wanted Savannah literally his whole life, but it’s so taboo. I mean, you just can’t be with your stepsister, and you know, there is no way in any way related physically, you know, by blood or anything.
So, yeah, he really shocked me what a fabulous guy he turned out to be. Um, I mean, he fell on his sword for her, uh, that book, I obsessed with that book. I love it so much. Um, but yeah, so that’s, that would be my surprise book.
Patricia McLinn [44:17] Um, did that end up being a joy to write or was it still difficult to write?
Laura Marie Altom [44:22] Absolute joy to write. And the love scenes, oh my God. Uh, I found a certain song that just kind of fit the mood or the vibe. And I would just listen to that song on repeat. And, uh, I remember my daughter on Spotify. She’d like, Oh my God, Mom. So embarrassing. People are gonna think that’s me on my account listening. And it’s you. Stop playing that song. So—
Patricia McLinn [44:49] Well, what do you read for fun?
Laura Marie Altom [44:51] I read a whole bunch of action-adventure, love James Rollins. And that’s probably what’s gotten me started on my romantic suspense. Um, just, I love the, just what if, you know, and just a little bit of bad guy and a little bit of romance and. Just a good mix of weirdness.
Ugly covers, The Cowboy SEAL, Sentenced to Sabrina, LaVyrle Spencer
Patricia McLinn [45:15] Okay. And then we have a question from a reader who says, um, When the cover image doesn’t match the character description, and then, reader says a pet peeve of mine. How does it feel?
Laura Marie Altom [45:28] It feels gut-wrenching. I remember, God, my poor husband, he’s been through so much to me. I have this book called The Cowboy SEAL and this was supposed to be like, an absolute breakout book for me, my editor was so excited. Harlequin was just super behind me.
And at that point, I had invented The Cowboy SEAL and with both my editor and agent, we invented him at a conference in Anaheim RWA and, uh, when I got that cover, you know, I told everybody, you know, this is going to be the most epic cover of all times. It is the most ugly cover. I cried and cried and cried.
Patricia McLinn [46:13] Ohhhh.
Laura Marie Altom [46:14] I went to my agent. I said, Come on now. Like, he looks deformed, like some, you know, like aliens got ahold of him. You’ve got to do something. And, uh, you know, my agent tried getting them to change it. My editor was like, Well, I don’t know, I called the office, and they don’t think it’s that bad. And I said, Come on now.
Patricia McLinn [46:33] No, they never do.
Laura Marie Altom [46:36] I mean, I was so upset. So yeah, if anybody sees The Cowboy SEAL, I’m sorry. That’s not what he looks like. And then my very first book to, if anybody really wanted to do deep research, uh, Sentenced to Sabrina. Uh, you know, you think, okay, my first book cover, it’s going to be so amazing, and yeah, it’s just really bad.
So yeah, Google Sentenced to Sabrina. And it’s like this nuclear green background and it’s just nuts. And I want to say she had really red corkscrewy hair and she doesn’t at all in the book. Okay. And the song. It’s called To Build a Home—
Patricia McLinn [47:21] Oh, yes.
Laura Marie Altom [47:22] —by The Cinematic Orchestra. And I want to say I grabbed it off of, I’m real bad about or good about grabbing songs, you know, Shazam while watching TV. So I don’t, I don’t even know where I found it, but it is just absolutely stunning. Really love that song.
Patricia McLinn [47:37] Build a home. Okay. I’ll have to listen to it. And what was the name of the book?
Laura Marie Altom [47:42] That book is Stepping Over the Line—
Patricia McLinn [47:45] Okay.
Laura Marie Altom [47:46] —with Garrett and Savannah.
Patricia McLinn [47:47] That’s great. Here is another question from a reader, which I think this is fascinating, some people haven’t. If you could write a book with any author, alive or dead, who would you want to work with and why?
Laura Marie Altom [48:02] LaVyrle Spencer is an absolute goddess. She breaks every single rule so beautifully. I don’t know how she does it. I mean, she will head hop, so for readers, that would be like the point of view, like, you know, the hero has a point of view and the heroine has point of view. She will do it literally every other line.
I actually did a workshop on this one time and it’s fascinating how she does it, but yet you you never get lost. You totally know what’s going on. Uh, she is an absolute hands-down genius masterpiece. I love her. If I ever saw her, I’d probably break down in tears and, you know, just fall at her feet. Um, yeah, she’s amazing.
And I just read a book, one of her old books, and she started it with the hero drunk driving and throwing a beer can out the window. Who does that? You can’t do that, but she did, and it worked.
Patricia McLinn [49:05] Oh, that, she’s, she’s somebody who said I’m retiring and no, not going to write any more books. Would you consider, would you consider doing that?
Laura Marie Altom [49:16] No. Why? I mean my people need me to come out. No. My character people.
Patricia McLinn [49:26] I understand that completely then my head would get so clogged.
Laura Marie Altom [49:30] Exactly.
Patricia McLinn [49:31] What you do with all of them.Right?
Laura Marie Altom [49:35] Right.
Patricia McLinn [49:35] So—
Laura Marie Altom [49:36] What else would I do, in general? I mean, really.
Patricia McLinn [49:38] On that, I could find things, I would read. I would sit and read, I think. Um—
Laura Marie Altom [49:43] Wow. Yeah.
Patricia McLinn [49:44] And, and so coming back to readers, do you have any, have you had any great encounters with readers?
Laura Marie Altom [49:51] Oh my God. I have this sweet couple. I think they live in Manchester, England, and every year for my birthday, they send me this giant box of English, chocolate and candies. And it’s gotten to the point now where the whole family, the whole family is like, Oh my God, you got your birthday box. And uh, if you’ve never tried Maltesers, oh, oh my God. They’re just absolute chocolate heaven. It’s like a malt ball, but something about English chocolate, it doesn’t have that waxy kind of like, it just melts instantly. It’s, it’s amazing. But anyway, Louise and Steven McLean, I love you. And they’re fabulous.
Patricia McLinn [50:36] How did, how did that start? Had they read a particular book or do you know?
Laura Marie Altom [50:45] I don’t know. Well, she, Louise started out, uh, reading my Control series, uh, that was put out through Loveswept. And we just somehow, you know, how you become just fast friends with people online.
Patricia McLinn [50:59] Uh-huh.
Laura Marie Altom [51:00] And, uh, she just is so funny and quirky and we just always got along. And just one day she asked me for my address and said she wanted to send me a present and I’m like, okay, send me a present. And so, and then after that, then I sent her a box of, uh, American things. It’s funny. She loves candy corn. I’m like nobody in America likes candy corn.
Patricia McLinn [51:23] You have to send her Indian corn, though, instead of candy corn. You know, Indian corn has the chocolate, it’s the brown and orange.
Laura Marie Altom [51:33] I’ve never heard that.
Patricia McLinn [51:34] Brach’s Indian corn. I love the stuff.
Laura Marie Altom [51:38] Okay, I’m going to have to get that.
Patricia McLinn [51:39] I tell myself at Halloween that I cannot eat Indian corn. Cause it’s, I can’t eat, um, candy corn, cause it’s inferior to Indian corn. And I can’t eat any brand except for Brach’s Indian corn.
Laura Marie Altom [51:51] Oh, Brach’s. Everything they make is good.
Patricia McLinn [51:55] That limits my, uh, my access to, to pure sugar.
Laura Marie Altom [52:00] Interesting.
Patricia McLinn [52:01] Definitely. I’m going to hide now Indian corn, because, Oh my goodness. It, it is, you know, an immediate sugar delivery system.
Laura Marie Altom [52:09] Yes, please.
Patricia McLinn [52:10] Okay. So we talked, uh, um, we’ve talked about several of your books, which of your books would you say is the best place for a new to you reader to be introduced to your books, to find out if you’re a good author reader fit?
Laura Marie Altom [52:27] Okay, this is, I just redid my website and because I do so many different kinds of guys, I try to think of a slogan. So I came up with A man for every mood. So, because I do have, I think I’ve got over 60 books now, so I’ve covered a lot of different guys. So if you like billionaires, you would start with my Control series.
If you like SEALs, I don’t even know, like there, you know, it lists all my SEAL books. So you, if you like a SEAL just by himself, then there’s those kinds of books. If you’d like a SEAL, who’s also a cowboy, I got those. So then I have another section that has a cowboy. So those might just be a cowboy. Or they could also be a cowboy and a SEAL. So, what you do, if you want to check me out, go to my website and you’ll see the three guys. So just click on one of the three guys that you, so say, I-I’m really in the mood for a cowboy book. So click on a cowboy and then you’ll see my cowboy books and just pick, pick the one that looks good.
And I really, any of my series, I try not to make it, each book will stand alone, even within the series. I mean, you might get a little more reading them, you know, in sequence, but you’re not going to miss that much.
Patricia McLinn [53:50] And which, uh, what’s your URL for your website?
Laura Marie Altom [53:53] Uh, it’s just lauramariealtom.com.
Patricia McLinn [53:55] Okay.
Laura Marie Altom [53:56] And I’m everywhere. Um, and it’s the same thing anywhere. Twitter, Facebook, my Facebook page, it’s all just Laura Marie Altom whatever, you know, via Instagram. And Instagram is my fun place. That’s where I, you know, any kind of family pictures or just fun, goofy things. That’s probably where I have the most fun.
Patricia McLinn [54:17] Yeah. There’s my dog is all over that. She’s also all over Facebook.
Laura Marie Altom [54:24] Yep. Yep. Lots of dog pictures on Instagram. So if you want to see my crew, that’s where they are, where I hang out.
Patricia McLinn [54:29] So are any of your books what you might consider an overlooked gem? One, one that even your loyal readers, even those who send chocolate from England, might not have been familiar with or know about?
Laura Marie Altom [54:45] I have this little book and it was my first one published by Dorchester. Uh, at the time it came out, it was called Blue Moon, and I re-issued it, uh, Angel Baby. And that book is the first one that ever made me just break down sobbing writing it.
Patricia McLinn [55:05] What’s it about?
Laura Marie Altom [55:07] It features a super seriously down on his luck widower, who has a baby who’s failing to thrive. And I did quite a bit of research on infants who failed to thrive. And it’s just heartbreaking. I mean, there’s, you know, they won’t eat, there was a way there, um, you know, on a downhill slide. So one night he’s cleaning his, uh, the restroom in his diner and, um, just feeling lower than low. And this woman walks in and you can tell something’s happened to her, but you’re not quite sure, she’s just not quite right.
So she uses the restroom and he goes about his work and doesn’t really think much of it. And when he comes out, he finds her back in his office, breastfeeding his baby. And actually, this was another dream I had and I totally forgot that this was, this came from a dream, but so right away, so he’s got this issue of, okay, my baby is suddenly eating. And this is a really good thing, but on the flip side—
Patricia McLinn [56:11] What the heck is this?
Laura Marie Altom [56:12] —uh, clearly this lady has a baby somewhere that she should be with. Uh, where is her baby? And, you know, obviously contacts the authorities, authorities don’t have a clue where she’s come from. She doesn’t know where she’s come from. I just, I love a good amnesia story, but that one just, oh my God. Oh, I still, when I think about when it, when it all starts unraveling, it’s bad, just real bad, but anyway, in a good way.
Patricia McLinn [56:42] Interesting that you mentioned amnesia because, um, I have amnesia. I have, I have lost three days from a car accident.
Laura Marie Altom [56:52] Oh my gosh.
Patricia McLinn [56:54] And, um, I didn’t really want to write an amnesia story until I could figure out how to deal with it. So, and oddly enough, my amnesia story has smartass humor in it. So my, my character pretends that she has amnesia.
Laura Marie Altom [57:14] Oh my gosh, that’s brilliant.
Patricia McLinn [57:15] That’s how I, I dealt with, I think it was a way of working out some of my thoughts about losing these days, uh, from my memory, which had, had been really spectacular, but not quite so, so good after that.
Laura Marie Altom [57:30] Wow. So how did you, okay, so now the writer in me is kicking in. I got to know like, I mean, are you okay to talk about it?
Patricia McLinn [57:37] Sure, sure. It was years and years and years ago. Yeah.
Laura Marie Altom [57:40] So what happened?
Patricia McLinn [57:43] I was driving to work at the Charlotte Observer after, right after Christmas. And I, the last thing I remember is going out to my car, um, and, but from police reports and witnesses, I was driving, um, four-lane highway, not divided. I was in the left lane, a guy lost control of his car from the other, coming the other direction and came 90 degrees across. And the other witnesses said that I tried to go, I tried to go left first to avoid, avoid him, but there was oncoming traffic. So I pulled as far and as hard as I could to the right, we ended, which meant that his car came into the, um, driver’s area of my car.
And, and we ended up on the front lawn of a, of a business. And then they said that, um, you know, they took me into the emergency room. They said that I had, I had regained consciousness. And what happened was, uh, a friend who is also the wife of a coworker, um, came to the hospital to be with me initially. And she was the one who recognized that I was asking the same questions over and over. I was articulate. I would ask, you know, ask good questions, but that I wasn’t retaining that I had asked them or whatever the answer was.
Laura Marie Altom [59:07] Wow.
Patricia McLinn [59:08] Um, it was, it was quite, quite the thing. They called my parents in Illinois and said, if the family’s gonna get here, get here now, because they’d had a blood pressure that dropped precipitously. And one time they figured out what it was and fixed it. They never really knew what the other time was. And—
Laura Marie Altom [59:29] Wow.
Patricia McLinn [59:30] The first thing I remember is, um, that day, but very, very small snippets. I can remember tipping my head back and looking to the left and seeing the machine monitoring me and seeing the lines fairly regularly and thinking, Well, that should be okay. That, that should be a good sign. And the next thing I remember was my parents being there. So this is, I don’t know, five, six, maybe longer hours. Um, oh, probably more like eight hours after. And my mom on one side and my dad on the other.
And there’s two things my, uh, I asked my mother two questions. Was anybody else hurt? And, Was it my fault? And the other thing I remember is holding, I was holding their hands, and my dad had a cold, and he had put, he always had cloth handkerchiefs, and he had put a clean cloth handkerchief between our hands, so I wouldn’t get his germs.
Laura Marie Altom [100:37] Oh, my goodness.
Patricia McLinn [100:38] And I can remember moving, working my thumb to move the fabric, to hold his, to touch his hand.
Laura Marie Altom [100:44] Ohhh. Oh my God.
Patricia McLinn [100:45] Yeah. And then the next thing I remember is like two days later when they were going to make me stay in the hospital longer, but my sister and brother-in-law and their five kids were supposed to come and visit for New Year’s, and I told the doctor, Either let them all in, either let me out, or you’re letting them all in at the same time.
Laura Marie Altom [101:09] Right. Right.
Patricia McLinn [101:10] The doctor looked at my mother, and my mother said she means it. So they let me out. Yep.
Laura Marie Altom [101:18] Oh my goodness.
Patricia McLinn [101:19] But then it was months and months and months where I would remember I’d asked the question and then I couldn’t remember the answer, that was really—
Laura Marie Altom [101:26] That had to be scary.
Patricia McLinn [101:27] And, uh, the neurologist said in very technical terms, Your brains have been scrambled. You know.
Laura Marie Altom [101:36] That’s real training.
Patricia McLinn [101:37] Yeah. Yeah. Um, that I had this, I had a severe concussion, very severe concussion. And, uh—
Laura Marie Altom [101:42] Wow!
Patricia McLinn [101:43] —you know, I was just going to have to wait to see how things sorted out.
Laura Marie Altom [101:47] Whew. Goodness, that’s quite a story.
Patricia McLinn [101:50] Yeah. I should use more of that in a book someday. Huh?
Laura Marie Altom [101:53] I think you probably should. You don’t, I will.
Patricia McLinn [101:57] Nope. Dibs. Dibs.
Laura Marie Altom [102:01] Isn’t that funny now, a lot of times—
Patricia McLinn [102:03] Yeah.
Laura Marie Altom [102:04] —we gotta call dibs on those stories.
Patricia McLinn [102:05] Yes. Now, what is your most recent book? Oh, you mentioned the one that is that November. Do you have another one coming up?
Laura Marie Altom [102:11] I have, uh, the November one and then I had December 8th, Christmas Cookie Baby drops. And that is the first in my new SEAL Team: Holiday Heroes series.
Patricia McLinn [102:24] Okay.
Laura Marie Altom [102:25] And so my whole tag on that is, oh, gosh, see if I can remember. Holiday fun with a dash of danger. So, they all open with kind of a life or death situation. And this one opens with a plane crash.
Patricia McLinn [102:40] Oh boy.
Laura Marie Altom [102:41] Uh, but it, this was fun. This was actually, it’s a, I got the rights back, and I thought this was the second book I ever did with Harlequin. And I thought, Oh, well this will be fun, just a fun release. You know, my readers will get to see it because, you know, it’s been out of print forever. And, um, once I got diving into that, it needed a total rewrite. So even if somebody ever has read this, it’s totally a thousand percent redone and, uh, just, that’s been a lot of fun just to revisit those characters in the town.
And so the whole series now is based out of this town, Kodiak Gorge, in Alaska. And so I’m working on the second book now and it comes out, so it’s Happy New Year, Baby. And it comes out December 29th. Please, God, if I can get it done in time.
Patricia McLinn [103:35] Always, always the hope, right? It’s interesting how you look at some of your old books and some of them stand up so well and amazingly well, and then some really, you think, Hmm. Okay. Okay. Let’s wrap up with, Oh, I want to say you gave your URL and we will have that in the show notes.
Laura Marie Altom [103:54] Oh, okay. Thank you.
Patricia McLinn [103:56] I always think it’s much easier to read than to—
Laura Marie Altom [103:59] Oh, yeah.
Patricia McLinn [104:00] —hang onto it in your head to listen to it.
Laura Marie Altom [104:01] For sure.
Patricia McLinn [104:02] Though for folks who, who want to explore that. So we’re going to ask you some, either or questions here just to get, just for the fun of it really. Um, cake or ice cream?
Laura Marie Altom [104:12] See, now it’s not that easy. What flavor of ice cream versus if it’s white cake with white frosting, I’d got to go with cake. If it’s like rum raisin, I’ve got to go with that. Can’t like, I’m more complicated than that. Next.
Patricia McLinn [104:29] Okay. Tea pr coffee?
Laura Marie Altom [104:33] See, there again. Is this like a mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream. See, and then tea it’s gotta be, you know, orange spice or else I won’t like it. I dunno. It’s another toss-up.
Patricia McLinn [104:48] Okay. I think, I think this one might be easier for you.
Laura Marie Altom [104:51] Alright.
Patricia McLinn [104:52] Dog or cat?
Laura Marie Altom [104:53] Oh, dog.
Patricia McLinn [104:56] Day or night?
Laura Marie Altom [104:57] Day.
Patricia McLinn [104:59] Cowboy boots or hiking boots?
Laura Marie Altom [105:02] Hiking.
Patricia McLinn [105:03] Really? Now that surprised me.
Laura Marie Altom [105:05] I Love to hike. I would hike any day, anywhere.
Patricia McLinn [105:09] Toenail polish or bare toenails?
Laura Marie Altom [105:11] Polish. French, please. I like a nice French pedicure with wide stripes.
Patricia McLinn [105:17] Oh my. Okay. Very specific. Um, leggings or sweats?
Laura Marie Altom [105:23] Can I do yoga pants? What do those, what do those fall under?
Patricia McLinn [105:28] Hmm. Um, really neither, because—
Laura Marie Altom [105:32] You’re teaching me a lot about myself. Pat.
Patricia McLinn [105:36] You’re not very good at either or.
Laura Marie Altom [105:40] No.
Patricia McLinn [105:36] Um, okay. Uh, gardening or house decorating?
Laura Marie Altom [105:45] House decorating, but I love both.
Patricia McLinn [105:48] Paint or wallpaper?
Laura Marie Altom [105:49] Oh, I love the wallpaper, but it’s not in right now. So I got to go with paint currently, but I’m hoping for a wallpaper comeback.
Patricia McLinn [105:58] Mustard or ketchup?
Laura Marie Altom [106:00] Oh, ketchup, can’t stand mustard.
Patricia McLinn [106:03] Best China or paper plates?
Laura Marie Altom [106:05] Okay, if I’m on deadline, paper plates, otherwise best China.
Patricia McLinn [106:12] Save the best for last or grab the best first?
Laura Marie Altom [106:15] Save the best for last, always.
Patricia McLinn [106:18] Okay, well, this has been a delight, Laura.
Laura Marie Altom [106:21] It has. It’s been fun.
Patricia McLinn [106:23] I really, really appreciate your taking the time and joining us today and hope all of you will come back next week to get to know another author.
That’s the show for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. And thank you for joining Authors Love Readers podcast. Remember, you can always find out more about our guest authors in the show notes, and you can find out more about me at www.patriciamclinn.com. You can also send in questions to be asked of future authors at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next week. Wishing you lots of happy reading. Bye.