Linda Shenton Matchett
Today I’m interviewing Linda Shenton Matchett, author of the Christian novel, The Widow & The War Correspondent.
Thank you for being here today, Linda. It’s always great to have you.
When you were young did you ever see writing as a career or full time profession? My parents must have seen something to indicate an ability to tell stories, because when I was about seven or eight years old, they gave me a large notepad and a package of pens and told me to write to my heart’s content. They continued to supply writing materials, and I scribbled my way through childhood. Reading Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn list the fire of desire to become a published author.
Do you have a special place you like to write? I have a dedicated office to writing that looks into our backyard which is heavily wooded. Lots of birds call the area home, so there’s lots of activity. I find the view soothing and inspiring.
Have you ever received a rejection? Lots! 🙂 But my favorite, and one of the earliest rejections I received was from one of the major Christian publishers. The acquisitions editor took time to write that she saw lots of potential in my manuscript, gave examples of what worked and didn’t work, and suggested ways I could improve my craft.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer? Read, read, read. Read books in your genre, but in other genres as well because seeing the difference will help you hone your particular genre.
Do you take time to plot and outline your books? Or do you like to write by the seat of your pants? I am definitely an outliner. I create a character bible first, then use a spreadsheet to outline each scene including date, weather, location, chapter hook, and research topics required. I complete the research before I start writing. My characters sometimes wander off the outline.
Where do you get your ideas for your books? I get my ideas from numerous places: newspaper and magazine articles, books I thought should have been done or ended differently, a twist on a book, and television shows or movies. I’ve gotten several ideas from museum exhibits. Many of my ideas come from true stories or anecdotes.
What kinds of research do you do for your books? I read a lot of autobiographies and memoirs, and I’m blessed to have access to information, artifacts, letters, and documents at the Wright Museum of WWII which is in my town. I also use YouTube a lot, mostly for oral history interviews, but I recently watched a video that was recorded from inside a BT-13 plane during a flight as research for a book on the Womens Air Service Pilots.
Do you have a full time day job? If so, how do you find time to write? I have a full time day job, so I make time to write before I leave for work each morning. I work a night shift on Wednesdays, so am able to write until noon on those days. Saturdays is focused on marketing, and Sundays before church is devoted to social media.
The Widow & The War Correspondent
Cora Strealer threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. The wooden floor was cold on her bare feet as she hurried to the closet to select her outfit. The smell of pancakes filtered from the kitchen. Moving back home after her husband was killed with so many others during the attack at Pearl Harbor, she slept in the bedroom that had been hers since childhood. Her gaze went to the framed photograph of Brian. After two-and-a-half years, his death still seemed unreal. Trapped in the USS Arizona when the ship went down, his body hadn’t been returned.
No body. No casket. No viewing. When would she stop looking for him to come through the door?
She closed her eyes for a long moment searching her heart. Sure, she missed Brian, but with their whirlwind courtship and even shorter marriage, she hardly felt like a widow. Was she wrong to have those feelings? Her mother would be horrified.
Opening her eyes, Cora continued to run her hands over the clothes hanging in her closet. What did one wear when meeting a famous celebrity? Especially someone as elegant and refined as Miss Hayworth.
Her fingers fell on the sage-colored silk suit she’d worn for her wedding. Heart hammering, she pulled the outfit off its hanger and walked to the full-length mirror in the corner. She held the suit in front of her, studying her reflection in the glass. Blonde hair fell past her shoulders in a tangled mass, and her blue eyes picked up the green from the suit and seemed almost turquoise.
“Ugh. I look like a teenaged cheerleader with these freckles. No one would guess I’m thirty-one years old.” Rubbing her eyes that burned from lack of sleep, she yawned. How many times had she awakened with another idea for the interview? She glanced at the illegible scrawl on the top sheet of her notebook.
Time was wasting. She hurried to the bathroom and fifteen minutes later was dressed, ready to go. She stuffed the steno pad and extra pencils into her pocketbook and skipped down the stairs.
A car horn beeped outside, and she opened the door to wave at Amanda. Racing into the kitchen, she kissed her mother on the cheek and grabbed a piping hot pancake. Rolling it up, she blew on the hot cake before taking a bite. She snatched a napkin from the table. “Yummy as always, Mom. See you later.”
“Have fun, honey.”
“Thanks.” Cora bit off another piece of the pancake as she left the house and rushed to Amanda’s car. Considered an essential war worker, she was assigned a C gasoline ration sticker, giving her more than the usual four gallons per week that most people were allotted.
Nearly out of her own rationed amount of fuel, Cora was thrilled when Amanda offered to pick her up. Bicycling to the plant in her suit hardly seemed like an option. She wiped her fingers on the napkin then opened the door and climbed inside the back seat of the car. Her jaw dropped, and her breath quickened.
Seated beside her, Miss Hayworth smiled and held out her hand. “Mrs. Strealer? A pleasure to meet you.”
Cora’s heart threatened to jump from her chest, and she took a deep breath as she shook the movie star’s hand. “Uh, it’s Miss Strealer. I use my maiden name for my byline, but you can call me Cora.”
“Perfect, and please call me Rita. We don’t need formalities with just us girls here.” She smoothed the skirt on her emerald-green dress then straightened the pillbox hat set on her gleaming titian-colored hair, orange highlights glinting in the early morning sun. Her smile was genuine as she patted Cora’s knee. “How long have you been a newspaperwoman?”
“Since high school. I got my degree in English then moved to Hawaii when my husband was assigned there. I wrote for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, but after he was killed, I moved back home, and now I write for the local paper.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your husband.”
Cora shrugged. “It was a long time ago.”
From the driver’s seat, Amanda gestured over her shoulder. “Cora’s a great writer. I think she should apply to become a war correspondent. Especially with her experience at Pearl.”
Face heating, Cora shook her head. “Amanda, Miss Hayworth…Rita…doesn’t want to hear about my life.”
“On the contrary.” Rita smiled. “It will be nice to focus on someone other than myself. I appreciate what my celebrity status can do for the boys in the service and the country’s morale, but being the center of attention is fatiguing. Tell me about the opportunity.”
Licking her lips, Cora gulped. “In order to be a war correspondent overseas, I need to receive accreditation from the government which involves a lengthy background check and a physical. Working for such a tiny newspaper, I’m not sure I’ll pass.”
“How about the Associated Press or United Press?” Rita cocked her head.
“Don’t they have plenty of staff already?”
“This war spans the globe. There can never be too many reporters. I’ll write you a letter of introduction to the London bureau chief for the UP. Will that help?”
Cora’s eyes widened. “Well…uh—”
Amanda clapped her hands. “You’re a peach, Rita. A recommendation from you should get our girl in.”
“I’m happy to help. We gals need to stick together.”
“Thank you, Miss—Rita. I appreciate the offer. I haven’t decided to pursue going overseas.”
“You can’t let this pass you by, Cora. You’re stagnating here in this one-horse town. Nothing is keeping you here. Certainly not this newspaper that doesn’t appreciate your talent. I say you go for it. Don’t you agree, Rita?”
Rita turned to Cora. “What do you want? Are you happy with your current position? You need to make the decision that’s right for you, but I will say that if I hadn’t made some changes in my life, I wouldn’t be the star I am today. Sometimes shaking things up is good. Perhaps being a war correspondent will be the best thing to happen to you. Maybe not, but you won’t know unless you try.”
Cora slumped against the seat. “You’re right. I’m stuck in a rut. Here in town, everyone feels sorry for me. They tiptoe around, afraid to talk about the war or my husband. A fresh start where no one knows about Brian might be just the ticket.” Grinning, she straightened and crossed her arms. “Look out, world. Here I come.”
Get your copy now!
Find Linda online:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Shenton-Matchett/e/B01DNB54S0