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Monday, September 28, 2009

Linda Weaver Clarke Interview

Please tell us a little about yourself and your books.

I was raised on a farm in southern Idaho and have made my home in southern Utah among the beautiful red mountains. I am happily married and the mother of six daughters and have several grandchildren. I teach people how to write their family stories and I’m the author of the historical fiction series, “A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho,” dating back to 1896.

I get most of my ideas from true experiences and every day life. My first book, “Melinda and the Wild West,” was inspired by a true experience that happened to me as a substitute teacher. A teacher labeled a young girl as a troublemaker and put her behind some bookshelves so she wouldn’t be a menace to others. I based my story on this experience, bringing out that negative labels tear down and positive labels build up, but I also wanted it to be a love story for all ages. This book eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award.”

“Jenny’s Dream” was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I learned that forgiveness was essential for true happiness. In this novel, Jenny must learn to forgive and put her past behind her. While pursuing her dreams, she realizes that her kindred friend means more to her than she thought. He isn’t the stereotypical handsome man that writers portray. I believe it’s important to get to know a person deep down inside first, to get to know a person’s inner soul. That’s what matters. Now Jenny has to make a decision whether to follow her dream or matters of the heart. This story is about accomplishing one’s dreams and the miracle of forgiveness, with a bit of adventure from Old Ephraim, the ten-foot grizzly bear taken from Idaho history.

What has inspired your writing?

My ancestors and family experiences were my inspiration. After writing their biographies, I couldn’t help but add a few of their experiences to my fictional characters. My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for “David and the Bear Lake Monster.” Sarah lost her hearing as a child but she never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness while swimming, that people would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. Once an intruder hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. What a courageous woman!

In “Edith and the Mysterious Stranger,” my inspiration was the courtship of my parents. They didn’t meet the conventional way. They wrote letters to one another before they ever met. She said that she fell in love with the soul of my father, what was deep down inside and they didn’t even know what one another looked like. The day they met, my mother told me that her heart leapt within her and a warm glow filled her soul and she knew she would marry this man. I knew this would be the basis of my next novel, but there’s one difference. In my story, you don’t know who the mysterious stranger is until the end of the book. Some readers guessed correctly while others were pleasantly surprised. To read an excerpt, visit

Other than the historical period you write about, which historical period is your favorite or interests you the most?

I have researched many time periods but I had a blast researching the “Roaring 20s.” I didn’t realize how fun that period was until I researched it for my last book in the series. I found out about words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Baloney! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, he was goofy. If a person was a fool, he was a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great! Also, the rise of women’s rights was very exciting to read about. I found out that in the 1920s, women bobbed their hair and raised their hemlines. This new and adorable style brought about a lot of trouble. If women bobbed their hair, they were fired from their jobs. A teacher in Jersey City was ordered to grow her hair back by the school board or she would be fired. A preacher warned his congregation that a “bobbed woman was a disgraced woman.” Men actually divorced their wives over the new hairstyle.

In my workshops, I’ll bring a few of these facts out and I’ve had a few men raise their hands and say, “It’s true. I remember when my mother bobbed her hair and words were flying all over the place.” Amazing! I love research!

What are some of your favorite authors and books? Which books have inspired you? Which ones will you keep and never give/throw away?

I love learning about my country and what we had to fight for. I read a nine volume historical fiction series that helped me to appreciate the patriots and what they had to go through. I learned to love George Washington and the struggles he went through for our freedom. It was Prelude to Glory. The author used fictional characters but used actual facts in his book. At the end of the book, he sited his bibliography.

Please tell us a little about Family Legacy Workshops and what do you do in these workshops?

I teach writing technique and the importance of research. One thing that I emphasize is researching the time period where their parents or grandparents lived and find out what the country was going through, and insert it in the history of their ancestor. The turmoil of a country helps you to understand what your family went through and why they suffered. Did they live during the depression, and if so, how did it affect them? Sometimes what the country went through has to do with the circumstances of your ancestors. If they lived during war times, it helps your children understand why their grandparents had such tough times, why they barely made ends meet, or why they had to flee a certain country. What did your ancestors have to endure? I found out that in 1942 they rationed gas to three gallons a week. To me, that was amazing. How about prices? Did it cost ten cents to go to the movies and five cents for an ice cream cone? And what flavors existed? Did they go by way of a horse and buggy, a trolley car, or a Model T Ford? I encourage my audience to find out everything they can. I love teaching this subject. I’m always learning something from others.


  1. Wow - what an amazing woman your grandmother must have been! You can really tell compelling stories in an interview - I can only imagine how good your book must be.

  2. Thank you. I enjoyed writing each one because I was able to insert true experiences from my ancestors. That made it fun. The women back then were courageous people. Thanks, Grace, for a fun interview!



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