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 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Linda Smith

Why do you write fantasy?
I've written in all types of genres, including realism, science fiction, and even a couple of mystery plays. But I always come back to fantasy because it allows such scope for the imagination, especially in the creation of fictional worlds. I also love fantasy because it allows writers to explore issues that arise not only on an individual level but also on a broader scale. I believe that we are all involved in the world, and that young people need to know that they can make a difference.

Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from people, places, situations, conversations, books, dreams, and the "what if" questions that often occur to me. Like most writers, I have my antennae out in a constant search for ideas. Sometimes I don't use the ideas immediately but file them away in my mind. For instance, the main characters in Wind Shifter and its sequels came from a dream, but I only pulled them out several years later when I got so angry at a typical "good vs. evil" fantasy that I decided to write a novel that changed the usual pattern. Sea Change started by my wondering what the world would be like if women, not men, held most of the power. The Minstrel's Daughter was based on my fascination with the old folktale, The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

 Do you have to find your own illustrator?
No. Publishers want to find the artists to do the cover art and the illustrations in a picture book. Authors are advised never to send in a picture book manuscript with someone else's art, because publishers then have to decide whether to accept the whole package, though they might like the story but not the illustrations, or vice versa. With Sir Cassie to the Rescue, my editor asked for my input on what I thought the pictures should be like, but then Orca dealt with the artist. I never even saw the illustrations till I received my copies of the published book, so you can imagine how happy I was that I thoroughly liked Karen Patkau's pictures!

Do you use an outline?
No. Some writers make a detailed outline before they write; some just sit down and start without knowing what's going to happen next. I'm somewhere in between. I always have at least a vague idea of how I want my book to end, and usually have some ideas of how the characters will get to that ending. But sometimes situations change in the course of the writing, or characters go a different way than I'd planned. I've learned to follow them when they do that, and usually the story turns out stronger because I allowed my characters to take the lead.

Are your characters based on people you know?
Yes and no. None of my characters are solely based on any one person, but they all have bits and pieces of people I know, including myself. To understand how someone feels or how he or she would act, I think you have to figure out how you or people you know would think, feel and act in that situation. Using that as my basis, I then change those thoughts, feelings and actions somewhat because my characters have their own personalities. I hope all my central characters change in some way during the course of the book, just as people change depending on what happens in their lives.

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