Linda L. Richards is one of my inspirations. I forget if I first discovered her work through January magazine or through an online community, but in retrospect, it hardly matters. Back then, I was trying to branch out from straightforward cozies/amateur sleuth, Linda’s The Next Ex, or maybe it was her Death Was the Other Woman, showed me how a heroine can be tough and not necessarily nice and yet somehow irresistible. Linda herself is tough but also quite nice! And so I am thrilled to have her here today.

How does a book start for you?

It seems so different every time. One (The Next Ex) began with a headline. Another (Death Was the Other Woman) began with a ghost. The latest (Hitting Back) began with a hypothetical question: who would I need to be to kill someone for money?

Each one is different. A pearl, right? It begins with an irritating grain of sand that we spin stuff around. Sometimes this becomes gold. Sometimes something else.

Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?

I was surprised by the dog. Isn’t that funny? I was surprised when my heroine insisted on adopting the dog. Who would have thought? She was so independent. And also so cold, really. So broken. I did not anticipate her compassion for the puppy left behind after one of her hits. And yet? There is was. Suddenly she had a dog. I just did not see that coming.

When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?

It is set in an indefinable place in the present. We never quite know where. Except (for some reason unknown to me) the part that takes place in Vancouver. And that part is included (mostly) in Vancouver Noir. The rest of it is still hunting for a home. 

What are you working on now?

I’m just finishing a non-fiction book about elephant seals that will be published by Orca Books in the fall of 2020. It’s aimed readers 9-13 and it’s important, I think, in this bad news world because it is a good news story that gives reason to believe in hope and personal empowerment. 

I am also working on a novel. And it’s lovely, I think. It’s making my heart sing. But it’s too early to say more than that.

Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?

No, no: you know your stuff, dear Clea. You always know just what to ask.

Linda L. Richards is a journalist and the author of 15 books, including three series of novels featuring strong female protagonists. She is the former publisher of Self-Counsel Press and the founder and publisher of January Magazine. Her short story, “Terminal City” appeared in Vancouver Noir (Akashic Books) November 2018. She is the President of the Western Canadian Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a proud member of the organizing committee of Left Coast Crime 2019. Richards divides her time between Vancouver, Canada; Phoenix, Arizona and Paso Robles, California.