Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Book! _Every Broken Trust_ by Linda Rodriguez The Interview . . .

Amelia Montes:  Congratulations, Linda, on the publication of your new and second mystery novel: Every Broken Trust

Linda Rodriguez:  Thank you, Amelia. It’s lovely to visit La Bloga again.

Amelia Montes: Where does Every Broken Trust take us?  Should we have read the first novel Every Last Secret or can the reader read this one and then go back to the first?

Linda Rodriguez:  You can read Every Broken Trust even if you haven't read Every Last Secret before it.  They are a series, but I've tried to make each book work as a stand-alone novel, as well.  Every Broken Trust takes place in Brewster, MO, right outside Kansas City and into Kansas City itself in terms of physical terrain.  In other ways, this book explores various kinds of betrayal and the effects betrayal can have on normally nice, sane people.  

Linda's first book, winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition
Amelia Montes:  How was the writing of Every Broken Trust different from writing Every Last Secret

Linda Rodriguez:  One difference was that Every Broken Trust was written under contract with a deadline. Every Last Secret was written with no assurance that anyone would ever want it, but with the freedom to take as long as I wanted and with no time pressures since it was written on spec. When I first sat down to write Every Broken Trust, I panicked. Could I write a good novel, preferably even better than the previous one, on a schedule? I emailed a good friend who’s a NYT bestselling novelist—“Help! I’m not sure I can do this! How do you manage it?”—but got no answer since she was out of her office. So I told myself that I knew how books were written: by planting the butt in the chair and just doing the work. By the time the workday was over, and I heard back from my friend, I had several scenes written and didn’t need her to hold my hand, after all. “Just do the work” has become my mantra.

Amelia Montes:  Was your process different?

Linda Rodriguez:  I tried to use an outline, as always. I’ve come to realize that I need that outline to get me past the intimidation of the blank page.  But I know now that I won’t really follow it. I’m congenitally incapable of following a pattern or instructions. I guess I have a problem with authority, even my own. At about halfway through the manuscript, I realized that the murderers I had planned on wouldn’t work because everyone would know it was them right from the start—it would be obvious. My husband came home to find me stalking through the house, hands flailing and crying, “It’s all wrong. What will I do?” I did what I always do with my writing when there’s a problem. I went back to character and started digging deeper into some of the lesser characters to see how I could make them better suspects. I found my murderer there and made a much stronger book in the process.

Amelia Montes:  How much research went into the writing of Every Broken Trust?

Linda Rodriguez:  I did research about the storage caves, a common thing in the Kansas City area. There’s a local college that has a setup very close to what I’ve given Chouteau University in terms of the caves. I did research into the immigration and refugee situation in Kansas City.  Kansas City is the Ellis Island of the Midwest. As well, with human trafficking—Kansas City has the first federal human trafficking task force that’s a pilot for the whole country, run out of the U.S. Attorney’s office. And I did research on the families of Chilean shepherds who have run the sheep and goat ranches of the western states for many generations, most kept in much worse conditions than Ignacio endures on Karen’s farm.

Amelia Montes:  Do you feel much more confident now, after having written two novels?

Linda Rodriguez:  I think I would, except each novel sets a new writing problem, so each time it feels like starting from scratch again. I think that, as we move along and become more experienced, we expect more from ourselves and take on more ambitious projects. At least, I know that’s how my mind works. But at least I am more confident that I will be able to finish what I begin.

Amelia Montes:  How well did your first book do and how do you plan to help sell Every Broken Trust differently or will you use the same strategies?  (I guess this is a question about the "business" and best ways to sell one's work)

Linda Rodriguez:  Every Last Secret did quite well for a first book. My publisher is happy with the sales, and though the final data is very slow to come in, it looks as if I’ll earn out my advance which was larger than usual for a first book because it was a prizewinner. (And I would urge any writers out in “La Bloga’s” audience to submit to one of the four free St. Martin’s Press book contests if you have an idea for a crime novel. They have no entry fee and each offers publication and a $10,000 advance. More info here: (click here)

Among the different strategies I hope to try in promoting Every Broken Trust is a book tour through Texas. Texas is the largest market for mystery novels in the country, and I have many good friends in Texas.  I hope to hit Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio for a week in September. Texas is also where the great organization Las Comadres started, and in September, Every Broken Trust will be a part of the Las Comadres National Latino Book Club.

Amelia Montes:  Is there a third installment coming?

Linda Rodriguez:  My agent is knocking out the final contract details on the third Skeet book, which will be called Every Hidden Fear, right now. So look for that next spring.

Amelia Montes:  Are you planning Skeet to be a recurring character in this mystery series?  I am calling it a mystery series--is that okay?  I guess that connects to my earlier question on whether there will be more.

Linda Rodriguez:  Yes, Skeet will continue to be the protagonist of these books. Some of the important secondary characters, such as Karen, Ignacio, Gil and Dolores, and others will take center stage as part of the mystery and main story of one book or another, though, as Karen and Ignacio do in this book. I see them as a repertory cast of characters. But the whole series is a meta-novel about Skeet’s development as a person.

Amelia Montes:  What does Skeet learn about herself in this new novel that she didn't learn in the first?

Linda Rodriguez:  One of the hardest lessons Skeet has to learn in this book is forgiveness. She also has to confront the clay feet of people she set up as role models and parents of choice and learn how to continue loving and valuing people who’ve fallen short of her ideals. This book also pushes Skeet further down the road toward integration into her life of her heritage and toward some sort of relationship with her estranged family. And in this book, Skeet must become a real nurturer of others, a role she’s always run from before.

Author, Linda Rodriguez
Amelia Montes:  Now that you've written two novels, what is your experience with the book business?  What advice can you give to a beginning writer who is ready to market a book?

Linda Rodriguez:  First of all, I’ve learned that publishing is ver-r-r-r-ry slow. Patience isn’t a virtue but a necessity.

Secondly, if you have written a novel and want to publish it, it’s probably not ready yet unless you’ve done an awful lot of re-visioning and rewriting, and you don’t want to submit what isn’t the best work you can do. Publishing, even at the top levels, is actually like a small town. Editors know each other and move from house to house. You don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who sends out half-baked work. So, make it your absolute best to begin with. 

Next, learn about the business of publishing. Like any other profession or industry, it has its own ways of doing things. Learn how things are and are not done. Don’t get a reputation as a fool or a boor simply because you haven’t bothered to learn how things work. Join a national professional writers’ organization—it almost doesn’t matter which. If you write mysteries and none of the mystery organizations are near, but you have a local branch of RWA, the romance writers national, don’t turn up your nose: (click here). Any of the national writers’ organizations will teach you a lot about the business of publishing—Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and others—and that’s what you need to learn.

I wrote a whole blog post about first steps to take for publishing your book with more information and you can find it here: (click here).

Amelia Montes:  You are a member of The Kansas City Latino Writers Collective.  Tell us a little bit about that group and how that group has helped your work.

Linda Rodriguez:  The Latino Writers Collective is an organization very dear to my heart. It’s based in Kansas City, Missouri, but also has members in other cities and states. The Collective supports Latino writers and the Latino community with critique sessions, workshops, readings and events, publications, and collaborations with other community organizations. I was vice president for six years. Now I’m no longer on the board, but I am still a member.

The Latino Writers Collective was very important to my work. I already had a master’s in creative writing, but it was while working with the Collective that I was encouraged to work with the Latino and Native American material of my life. I had always been discouraged from this by my professors (who meant well and were creatures of their time). I had already been published quite a bit before the Collective formed, but I feel that my fellow LWC members were a huge help as I began to do my best work. LWC is mi familia, and I always acknowledge them in my books.

I strongly urge aspiring writers to find some similar supportive group, one that won’t tell them (as I had been before LWC) “don’t write about that—it’s not universal.” Who decided that only the privileged white cis-gendered male take on life was universal anyway? I hope you can find a group of writers who are as supportive and great as LWC has been for me and many other writers. Macondo is another similar group on a more national level, as is Canto Mundo. I think these organizations where we band together with people of similar backgrounds and situations—and aspirations!—can be life-changing for us as writers.

Amelia Montes:  How would you define "the mystery genre"?  Are there different genres within "the mystery" bookshelf?  How would you define your books within this book world of mysteries?

Linda Rodriguez:  Right now, crime fiction tends to cover a wide spectrum from the coziest of cozies to the darkest of violent serial killer novels. The basic categories within the genre are the traditional mystery (of which the cozy is just one part), suspense (with its sub-category, romantic suspense), noir and hard-boiled (once two distinct categories that have come to blend into each other), urban fantasy (which blends aspects of hardboiled and horror or fantasy), and thriller (with its subcategories of psychological, adventure, espionage and spy, techno, and serial killer). And of course, people are blending these categories and genres fast and furiously to make even more.  The big division is between mystery and suspense. In mystery, the reader is learning what happened and why along with the protagonist while, in suspense, the reader may know who the evildoer is or certainly what’s being planned, although the protagonist doesn’t. But even those lines blend today. My books are traditional mysteries until near the end where they veer into suspense once the reader and Skeet learn who has committed the crimes but s/he has yet to be caught and stopped.

Amelia Montes:  What else would you like to tell our "La Bloga" readers about . . .

Linda Rodriguez:  I would like to urge "La Bloga" readers to support the writers they love to read by requesting and checking them out from the library, buying them from bookstores and online, and telling people about them through word of mouth recommendations, reviews on online sites or blogs, and formal critical reviews and essays. Latino, Native American, African American, Asian American, LGBTQIA, and other writers who don’t fit that “universal” privileged model I mentioned earlier are often published by smaller presses which can’t get the review coverage the Big Six can. These writers are reviewed less and thus are less likely to be in libraries and bookstores because people are not aware that they exist. Some of us have been lucky enough to publish with large publishers, but the majority of books coming from these writers are from the small presses, those heroes in the trenches of literature. Do whatever you can to see that others out there in the world have the chance to learn about the writers you love. That way, it’s much more likely that you’ll see more of their works and writers like them offered to the public.

Amelia Montes:  Thank you so much for taking the time to be with "La Bloga" this Sunday.  

Linda Rodriguez Bio:
Linda Rodriguez’s second Skeet Bannion novel, Every Broken Trust (St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books), is available for sale now and was selected by Las Comadres National Latino Book Club. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick, and is a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. For her books of poetry, Skin Hunger (Scapegoat Press) and Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press), Rodriguez has received many awards and fellowships. She is the president of the Borders Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, a founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of the Macondo Community, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, Kansas City Cherokee Community, and International Thriller Writers. She was formerly director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Women’s Center. She spends too much time on Twitter as @rodriguez_linda and on Facebook at  She blogs about writers, writing, and the absurdities of everyday life at

Interview by Amelia M.L. Montes (

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your interview and all the insightful information. It is so refreshing and helpful to find writers so open to share their roads traveled to those of us who are often too reserved to ask for directions.
Thank you Amelia for asking great questions.
Blessings, Diana