Linda Weaver Clarke
Clarke was raised on a farm surrounded by the rolling hills of
Idaho and have made my home in southern Utah among the beautiful red
mountains and desert heat. I have been happily married for 33 years
and am the mother of six daughters and have four wonderful
After my family began to leave the nest, I decided it was time to
finish what I had started long ago. I decided to go back to college
and get a degree. It had been 30 years since I had been to college
and it was one of the most frightening things I had ever done. I had
to learn how to study and take tests all over again. The first day
of college, I was a nervous wreck and wondered if I could do this,
but with the support of my husband and children I was able to
graduate. I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre and Music
at Southern Utah University and received the Outstanding
Non-Traditional Student Award for the College of Performing Arts in
2002. During the meantime, I cut a CD named "Romantic Love Songs of
Sigmund Romberg and Victor Herbert."
enjoyed writing short stories and novels for several years but it
took a lot of courage to begin submitting them. I'm happy to say
that American Book Publishing has been great and my editor has been
"Linda Clarke is
a fresh new face in the fiction market. Her vivid
descriptions, engaging characters, and clever word usage
make reading her work a pleasure. I look forward to enjoying
her books for many years to come." -Betsy Brannon Green,
best-selling suspense author
"Such memorable characters! What an incredible blessing in
the lives of her future readers." -Kerry Blair, best-selling
"A writing style that opens the mind in a way that lets
usÖfeel the thoughts and emotions of the characters. It is
impossible to avoid becoming part of the story... She writes
historical fiction as if she were taking the reader back in
time." - Lloyd E. Reid
PageOneLit.com: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing
a part of your life? Who were your earliest influences and why?
Clarke: I grew up in southern Idaho on a farm. My father was a
farmer and a Special Education Teacher. I always enjoyed writing and
English was my favorite subject but I really didnít start writing
fictional stories until 2003. It all started after returning back to
college in my late 40s. I had always wanted to return but kept putting
it off because of raising a family. When my youngest was in 5th
grade, I decided to take the plunge. At first I was nervous about
returning at my age, but I took a deep breath and registered for
classes. It was difficult and a long four years but I would do it again
if I had to. I learned so much. After I graduated in 2002, I came away
with more confidence than ever before. I wanted to try new things that I
hadnít done before and one of them was writing a novel.
Why do you write?
Clarke: I write because it fulfills a need inside of me, a need to
create, to express my feelings, to do some good in the world if
possible. I also write articles for the American Chronicle online every
now and then.
Your new book "MELINDA AND THE WILD WEST" is a wonderful work
"Historical fiction" -- How much do you personally enjoy history and how
much period research did you do for this book? What did you learn from
writing this book?
Clarke: I thoroughly enjoy learning and at the same time being
entertained. Thatís why I read and write historical fiction. The most
exciting part of writing is to do research. My book is set in Bear Lake
Valley in southern Idaho and so I had to do a lot of research. I found
that Butch Cassidy robbed the bank in Montpelier in 1896 and the city
recorded every little detail. I was elated. I decided to have Melinda be
a witness to this robbery. But first, I had to do more research. I
couldnít portray Butch Cassidy as something he was not. I had to find
out if he was a mean, ornery person or what? So, after much research, I
found that he was a very charming person. He was the leader of the Wild
Bunch, had a great sense of humor, a quick wit, and treated women with
respect. He just didnít respect the law. That helped me to know how to
describe him as a character in my story and how he would treat Melinda.
I had to do other types of research, also. I found that grizzly bears
roamed the Wasatch Mountains in that area. Thatís why it was called
ďBear Lake Valley.Ē I had to do more research to find out what it was
like to be confronted by a grizzly. I read an account written by a
Mountain Man and another one by a farmer that lived in southern Idaho.
That helped me to be able to write about Melinda being confronted by a
grizzly, her feelings deep inside, the overwhelming fear that can
overtake you, and the description of a charging grizzly. Iíve done many
lectures so far, and Iíve had three different women in the audience tell
me that a grizzly had confronted them and that my account was correct in
every way, including how they had felt when it happened to them.
(Luckily, two of the women were saved by someone in their party that had
a gun, and the third woman was saved just in the nick of time as she ran
toward a building and slammed the door.)
In "MELINDA AND THE WILD WEST" your main character is Melinda Gamble
-- This rather complex but still simple character study of a woman who
is 'elegant..naive," a woman who gives up a 'life of monotonous comfort"
for the opposite --- First, I want to know about the selection of her
last name and how the last name 'Gamble' is very symbolic of the
character - Was this premeditated by you while developing the character?
Second, how much fun was it taking a character from her elements
(Boston) and dropping her into a new and adventurous but unknown world
of the West (Paris, Idaho)?
Clarke: The name Gamble is taken from my great grandfather who was
from Ireland. Melinda is part Irish, so I chose a family name, just for
fun. The ďelegant / naÔveĒ part is simply because she is new to the Wild
West. She is an elegant woman from Boston, but is naÔve to the Wild West
and itís rugged atmosphere. Thatís why she gets into trouble with the
grizzly and a blinding blizzard. Being a city woman, she doesnít realize
that you must quietly and quickly get out of there. But instead, she
stays and watches because sheís so fascinated with the wild life of the
West. When thereís a blizzard, she doesnít bundle up enough before going
out to search for a doctor and then she loses her direction simply
because she canít tell which way is north or south, east or west.
It was fun to be
able to take a ďnaÔveĒ city-woman and help her to learn about the
elements of the West, an area where I grew up. Melinda is a very
stubborn and headstrong woman. She is, also, a very tender woman and
wants to do some good in her life and make a difference in the lives of
these children. At the same time, she finds that the people in this
laid-back western community have made a difference in her life as well.
I was happily surprised to find that there is actually a Paris,
Idaho -- Founded Sept. 26, 1863. How did you select this particular
place and why did you select a real town for your setting rather than
create a 'fictional' place?
Clarke: I dedicated my novel to my great, great grandparents who
were the first settlers of Paris, Idaho: Gilbert and Sarah Weaver. I
wanted to learn more about the area that my great grandparents loved so
much. Thatís what ďhistorical-fictionĒ is all about: taking bits of
history and putting it into the lives of fictional characters.
Tell us a little about 'Gilbert ' - Was this character's
personality/background structured from anyone you have known/know? In
the case of Gilbert and Melinda, do you believe opposites attract or do
Clarke: Yes. Most definitely on both accounts. At first, I created
the most perfect ďrugged rancherĒ that I could think of, not realizing I
was actually creating my character after the same man that I admired and
loved, who was in my life for years Ė my father. It wasnít until my
stepmother read my book and mentioned how much Gilbert reminded her of
my dad: Marcus Gilbert Weaver. The build of Gilbert was like my father,
a tall hard-working farmer with bulging muscles. My dad had the strength
to lift a 130-pound sack of grain over and over again until his truck
was filled. The low soft chuckle of Gilbert was my fatherís but it
didnít dawn on me until she mentioned each little aspect of my rugged
rancher. Yes, my character took on the personality and build of my dad
without me even realizing it. In a way, it touched me because my father
passed away in his 90ís in 2005.
I believe that
opposites do attract. My husband is an out-going man, loves to travel,
listens to talk-radio, and belongs to the Mountain Man Club. He dresses
in his Mountain Man regalia and shoots a black powder rifle. Me? I love
being at home, going to concerts, and listen to classical music. As the
years rolled by, we began to enjoy one anotherís tastes. I would go to
his Mountain Man Rendezvous, and he would go with me to see a Gilbert
and Sullivan operetta.
"MELINDA AND THE WILD WEST" has "Such memorable characters!" one
reviewer writes -- Which part of the writing process do you have the
most difficulty -- Plot or Character? Do you feel one is more
important than the other? Why or why not?
A: The plot is
always something that I worry about. Is it strong enough? Is it
interesting enough to the reader? I had to change the word to ďthemeĒ so
I wouldnít get nervous about it. Iíve written several novels thus far,
while waiting to be published, and in each one the plot came to me in
different ways. I knew the plot for Melinda right off, but in another
book, it wasnít so easy. I found myself changing the plot in mid-stream
because of my characters. As I developed my characters and got to know
them better, I decided that my plot would be stronger by taking a
different direction. Sometimes, getting to know your characters is like
getting to know a best friend. After a while, the plot is easier to see
in your mindís eye because your characters have been well developed.
Does that make sense? The plot and characters are equally important to a
What do you hope readers walk away with after reading "MELINDA AND
THE WILD WEST" ?
Clarke: I hope that I can uplift people by inviting them into my
world of make believe. If I can make someone laugh as they read about
Jenny stomping around the house with pans tied to her feet, or sigh
breathlessly as Gilbert takes Melinda in his arms and expresses his
unconditional love to her, or gasp as the grizzly charges toward
Melinda, then I think it was all worth it to write this novel.
"MELINDA AND THE WILD WEST" would make a great film --
Anything in the works? Who in Hollywood would you select to play your
Clarke: That would be difficult to say. The actors would have to be
just like the characters in my story and Iím not sure who fits the
description. In the early days of the West, men worked hard for a living
and developed the muscles needed for that kind of work, and they were
proud of it. They played stick-pull and wrestled for entertainment, both
representing physical strength. (If he was a banker, then that was a
completely different situation.) Hereís the description of
Gilbert, a farmer
and rancher who had to use his brawn for a living: Heís an imposing
figure with piercing brown eyes, six-foot two-inches tall and every inch
of him is muscle. He has broad shoulders, dark brown hair, and is
ruggedly handsome. His arms are tanned from the sun and his shirt cannot
hide the bulging muscles rippling across his shoulders and chest. Do you
know of anyone with that description?
How has your life changed since becoming a published writer?
Clarke: I was so content being a homemaker and writing stories. I
didnít realize that this was going to change my life so drastically. Now
Iím giving lectures and workshops and my life is so different. At times
I would like to just sit and relax and write another book but this new
routine has sort of disrupted that part of my life. Iím getting used to
it, though, and enjoy meeting people. Thatís the fun part of lecturing:
Clarke: Melinda and the Wild West is the first in a four-book
family saga. The other three have already been written. I wrote them
while sending my novel to publishers. Thank goodness I had them written
because I donít have much time to myself anymore. The second is at the
publishers right now.
What was the last book you read?
Clarke: I love historical fiction love stories, but I also love
mystery/suspense novels with a touch of romance and adventure. I canít
remember which one I read last.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your
Clarke: I love to sing. Iím an alto and occasionally give a
recital in our little town here. I usually do Irish songs for St.
Patrickís Day or Patriotic songs for the 4th of July. How
does that enhance my abilities as an author? Well, to begin with, it
helped me overcome stage fright. Now I have to give lectures and I donít
get nervous at all. I figure that my recitals have helped me to learn to
relax and have a better presentation.