Thursday, January 25, 2018

Interview with mystery author Linda Westphal

Author Linda Westphal joins me today for a conversation about her new new-age mystery novella, The Hermit Bookstore.

Linda Westphal writes feel-good stories with characters who explore life events that cannot be explained but are true based on firsthand experience, such as coincidence, help from people who have passed on, interactions with angels, intuition, and mind-body-spirit topics.

She lives in Sacramento with her family and enjoys travel, tea, food, sunny days, friendly people, and a good story.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Hermit Bookstore is a feel-good story with a special theme: Even if you are not aware of it, there are moments when you are receiving hints, a nudge, or support from a loved one who has passed, an angel, or a spirit guide.

I had fun developing this story, which is based on a real-life event that included a bit of mysterious help from the other side. Most people have heard of stories where a stranger comes out of nowhere, saves a life in a car accident, and then disappears without a trace. This is a similar story.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a story that was similar to a true event I had heard told. Here’s a summary of the true event: Two men had been driving at night for hours. They were lost and their car was almost out of gas. Moments before the men nearly gave up, they saw a lit up 1950s-style restaurant down a country road. They stopped to ask for directions. The restaurant was empty except for the man behind the counter. He gave them directions to the nearest gas station. At the gas station the two men mentioned the kind man at the restaurant down the road. The gas station attendant said the restaurant closed years ago, when the owner, a man who matched the description of the man behind the counter, died.

Here’s a short excerpt from The Hermit Bookstore:

The Hermit Bookstore
by Linda Westphal

2015 TISBA Finalist, Fiction


Unexplained events happen every day.
This is just one event.
Mary June – Wednesday, April 23, 2014, morning
A fine misty rain fell on the small northern California town of Lotus as Mary June Shaw jogged the curves of Lotus Road. She had considered blaming the seasonal mix of dewy clouds and early morning sunlight outside her bedroom window for her inability to sleep, but her instincts hinted at something else—something important she had to do today. Whatever it was, it had coaxed her out of bed at dawn on her day off as marketing director at Rivers Winery.
Lotus, population 295, had not always been a small, quiet town. More than 165 years ago, when gold was discovered here, the nearby American River was overrun within a few months by men from all over the world who dreamed of finding their fortunes.
Mary June slowed her pace, took in the view, and wondered what her little town may have been like during the California gold rush. She imagined makeshift camps along the river that offered the essentials—a doctor, a blacksmith, a sleeping lodge, a food kitchen, a tavern, mail services, and other services a man was willing to trade for a little gold. Surely, she thought, the scene was nothing like today’s quiet picturesque destination that was abandoned most of the year, except in the summer when families and groups dropped in for the thrill of whitewater rafting on the river.
Her gait changed to a fast walk as she approached the Uniontown Cemetery and focused on her breathing—in and out, in and out, in and out. In the distance she could see the tiny old brick post office, built in 1881, and just beyond it a farmhouse about the same age.
It wasn’t until she reached the front of the old post office that she saw a light in the downstairs window of the farmhouse—a house that was supposed to be vacant. She stood still, barely breathing, and narrowed her eyes to get a better look. “Oh my God,” she whispered. Her heart pounded in her chest. Someone’s in the house!
Mary June crossed the street and approached cautiously, taking a second look at a large wooden sign hanging from a post in front of the house. She was sure it had not been there yesterday. Then she noticed the For Sale sign that had been posted at the edge of the yard, near the road, was gone.
She shifted her weight to her right leg and leaned forward until she could see the front of the new sign, which hung from two large metal hooks that were attached to a wooden post. She read the words carved into the wood—The Hermit Bookstore. A carved drawing next to the name featured a cloaked man with a brightly lit lantern in one hand and a walking stick in the other.
She walked up to the farmhouse and through a side window saw an older woman, dressed in a long rainbow-patterned skirt and a loose white blouse, placing books on a bookshelf that stood higher than her five-foot frame. She watched the woman for a few minutes, then moved toward the front of the house, walked up the stairs, and crossed the front porch. Without thinking, she knocked on the door.
Before she finished knocking, the woman she had been watching—with her hippie-like clothes, long blonde wavy hair, and sparkling blue eyes that reminded Mary June of the American River on a bright sunny day—opened the door.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a story that explores past lives and how the energy of an emotional event in a past life can be brought with you into your current life and cause problems. I enjoy history and metaphysical topics, so I decided to combine the two in my next story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve written most of my life but it wasn’t until I started writing stories that I told people I was a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write stories full-time but I’m always working on a story. I tend to work through scenes in my mind, write notes, research ideas, and develop a high-level outline months before I begin writing. I need to feel comfortable inside some aspect of the story before I write it. I never know how long this process will take. Sometimes it takes a few months, or a year or more.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Some people would say it’s the topics I choose to write about – past lives, angels, tarot cards, psychics, mediums, spirit guides. These are “quirky” and relatively unexplored topics for many people. I’ve been studying them most of my life; they are part of my every day. The challenge is communicating these ideas, and how they can help you improve your life, in a way that makes sense to most people. I have definitely seen a shift in the world in the last 25 years – more people are opening their minds to these topics.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be successful at whatever I was doing at the moment. I’m not a one-career type of person. I have many interests and want to be able to explore them all.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I recently posted a reading group guide for both books – The Hermit Bookstore and The Medium — on my website. The questions in these guides are intended to enhance your book club’s conversations about the themes and topics in the stories.


Thanks for being here today, Linda!

1 comment:

Linda Westphal said...


Thank you for the opportunity to talk about THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE. I enjoyed our time together.

Linda Westphal

P.S. I love all the fascinating author interviews on your blog. It's a must-read for me.