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Interview with Linda Alexander
Mar 30, 2008

 
Linda, grab a hot cup of coffee and get settled. First, I want to thank you for allowing Manic Readers to chat with you a bit. We’re excited to have such a seasoned professional here today.
 
Thanks for having me. Much appreciated . . . and I have my hot chocolate with skim milk, 2 pumps peppermint, & light whip. Truly – you do NOT want to see me on coffee! ROFL
 
I’ve read your bio and can I just say, wow! I’m impressed! You’ve had an impressive career. After having browsed your website, I have to ask. How did you first come across Tease Publishing, llc.?
 
It was at a book festival in Baltimore. Authors & tables were set up around the walls of an auditorium. Most were filled, yet there was a table catty-corner across this big room and the author hadn’t yet arrived. Suddenly, it was like a rock star presence . . . Stella Price walked in the room and across the floor, with an entourage behind her. She had such flair and later, when I did my “author rounds,” I went to visit. Her talent was evident and we struck up a conversation. When she learned what I was writing, she suggested I send the manuscript to Tease. As that ol’ overused saying goes, “The rest [hopefully!] is history!”
 
Okay, let’s dive right in. What inspired you to write a biography on Robert Taylor?
 
I get asked that often. I was born smack in the middle of what’s called the Baby Boomer era – not old enough to have seen Robert Taylor as the heartthrob of the Golden Era movie screen. I do remember him, however, from my childhood, when he took over for Ronald Reagan on “Death Valley Days.” He narrated and acted in some episodes. Even then, I don’t literally remember him . . . it’s odd, even to me. There’s something psychological to it all. Taylor bore a hearty resemblance, especially in my child’s mind, to my dad, and since I didn’t grow up with my dad, I’ve come to believe seeing Taylor’s face on TV offered me an emotional connection. Strange but true.
 
As it states on your website you wrote a letter on emotional child abuse and ended up on the Oprah show. Knowing how many letters Oprah probably gets, were you shocked that your letter made it to the top?
 
Floored. Just goes to show the power of the written word. Also shows the power of (even if it again sounds weird) cosmic connection. My letter was written of raw emotion, on a topic near and dear to me. Child abuse has always been important to Oprah, and I guess my letter hit the right chord at the right time.
 
This has probably been asked a million times, but I’m going to ask it again. What was it like to appear on Oprah and discuss such an emotional topic?
 
Freeing. People have asked why others will talk of such personal things in such a public manner. IF the forum is well-handled, IF the person has a good presence and knows how much to reveal, and how much not to reveal, there’s a catharsis that occurs in such an experience. I wrote that letter because I was angry that physical child abuse gets airplay but emotional child abuse – the act of getting to someone to the point they are taken down that far is emotional and the core of all abuse – is rarely discussed. That Oprah and her staff were willing, and eager, to take it on validated my belief that, indeed, it was (and still is) an issue that needs to be continually addressed.
 
From interviewing actors to writing dark romantic suspense...that’s what I call diverse! What I want to know is, what was the most extensive research you’ve ever done and did you feel the end result was worth all the hours sweating over a keyboard?
 
My Robert Taylor book has been the most extensive, exhaustive research I’ve ever undertaken. To tell the story of another person’s life and do it justice, I must have bulldog-like determination to go for every detail, never let intuition slip by without giving it due—and listening to it, and treating that person’s life as it were my own. Whether I’m writing about someone who’s alive or has passed away, they inhabited this earth. In Robert Taylor’s situation, though he’s no longer alive, he has living family members and friends and his life is of recent memory. That requires a diligent attention to fact, and understanding of motive where hard fact is unavailable. Interviews with those who knew him become cornerstones, and a sensitive manner of putting together those details is crucial to a full picture. I did many interviews, dug through decades of archives, read and interpreted Taylor’s own personal letters and essays, traveled to the places where Taylor grew up to see those places for myself and, overall, did everything I could humanly do to reconstruct a life that held a place in history.
 
I always like to ask this question because the answers are always so different. What was your proudest moment as an writer?
 
I’m not sure I have a singular proud moment, though I’ve a few t similar in nature. I love to interview people. I get a high from it. If I ask the right questions, the person blossoms. Two stand out. First, I met David Forsyth who years ago played Dr. John Hudson on the now-defunct NBC soap, “Another World.” David’s character was a Viet Nam vet with PTSD. I learned David was a Viet Nam veteran, and I was amazed he could go through that again, even as an actor. He was eloquent and emotional as we spoke and, later on, told me the article I wrote was the most accurate, sensitive ever done on him. The second was Michael Zaslow who has passed away. Michael played the infamously evil Roger Thorpe on CBS’ “The Guiding Light.” Michael was a difficult man. He wasn’t inclined to give me much time and seemed less likely to open up. He didn’t feel well—he recently had a leg operation and walked with a cane. I tried everything to get more than monosyllabic answers. We were almost done, and as he explained something he waved his hands. He had beautiful hands, and used them eloquently. I made mention of it and suddenly he stopped talking, hesitated, and became friendly, even playful. I realized that his health, as well as a surprising shyness, was behind his initial attitude. A good lesson: don’t make assumptions about anyone.
 
Who has been the greatest support for you throughout your writing/interviewing career?
 
This question caught me up short. I’ve struggled for every bit of success with, truthfully, little ongoing and uninterrupted support. As many writers may sympathize, writing for a living can be seen as an indulgence if resulting income isn’t direct, consistent, or considerable. I built my resume as a mother of 2 children only 14 months apart, and worked other jobs. Family alternately put up with my determination or just halfheartedly accepted it. I’ve been married the last 10 years to my soulmate (2nd marriage) and, since, he has been my love and support. Since my sons are now adults, they understand their mother’s obsession and are always behind me.
 
There are a lot of people trying to break into this business. If you could share one piece of advice with an aspiring writer, what would it be?
 
I refer back to the previous question. Do not ever let anyone dissuade you from your passion for writing. If you have talent, it will rise to the top and success will prevail. Work on your own timeline for success, not anyone else’s. And when you talk to yourself . . . always listen. Some of your best work will come from those conversations!
 
Now for a silly question! LOL! You’re invited on a cruise that takes you away from all your troubles. What six items (can be people and pets) would you absolutely have to have with you?
 
A Bible, my husband, laptop, M&Ms, camera (w/unlimited digital storage) . . . and an indoor toilet. Gosh, what an image THAT conjures up!!
 
Do you have a website other than http://www.lindajalexander.net/
that you would like to share with your readers?
 
Linda: Yes, and thanks for asking! http://www.authorsden.com/lindajalexander -- my writer’s archive . . . many of my old interview articles and other writing are there.
 
Thank you so much for spending time with us today, Linda.

Thank you! This has been insightful . . . great questions. I enjoyed it tremendously.
 
Please check out Linda’s website to read more about her work. While there, be sure to read her Bio! http://www.lindajalexander.net/bio.php What a truly interesting life this fabulous lady has led!
Interviewed by: Manic Readers.



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