Today it’s my pleasure to feature author Linda McDonald. Linda is the author of four independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.
After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’ London, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.
Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in south east London.
So over to Linda,
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I’m a Believer I missed Beatlemania by a year or two and the Monkees became my first music obsession when I was aged about ten.
Catch the Wind by Dylan or Donovan is a perfect song of unrequited love. I knew a lot about that when I was a teen.
The Alan Price version of The Girl from the North Country. When I arrived in London as a student, I was very proud to tell people I was from Cumbria – and in over forty years, I’ve never met down here another Cumbrian whom I didn’t already know.
Pleyel’s trio for Piano, Flute and Cello I came to domesticity somewhat late in life and ironing is still one of my least favourite chores. When I discovered this piece by Pleyel, performed by author Patrick Gale and his friends at the Penzance Literary Festival, it proved to be the perfect accompaniment.
Rediscovering live rock music has been one of the joys of the past few years. And Steve Hackett’s concerts have been among the best. Shadow of the Hierophant with Amanda Lehmann and Steve Hackett – the guitar on this is lovely.
What 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Klippits – available from Lakeland and a must for freezer bags (colour coded of course), cereal, opened bags of nuts and seeds, herbs, spices, etc. I cannot function without them.
Factor 50 sunscreen – Fair and freckles, need I say more!
Nutribullet – used every morning since 2015 except when on holiday.
Yves Rocher night and day creams
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Stand up to bullies.
Don’t wear white, pastel shades or turtle necks.
Do take note when Mum tries to teach you to cook.
Don’t be dazzled by men who play games.
Don’t take any notice of the PE teacher who tried to dissuade you from the two-handed backhand.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
Like Marianne in Meeting Lydia, I attended a boys’ prep school and was the only girl in the class when I was nine.
In 1983, I stayed on British Summer Time until Christmas because it suited my circadian rhythms.
I can name all 128 players in the 1996 Wimbledon Men’s singles draw – and use this as a strategy for falling asleep.
Lily is my fictional twin sister who used to take my place in the classroom when I wanted to entertain the children.
I wrote a 20 minute spoof of Neighbours for the staff to perform for the pupils on the second Comic Relief Day.
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
Move to be near to the sea.
Have a house with a garden.
Own a dog – only if the second of these happens.
Keep the health demons at bay for a few years.
Have the Lydia series adapted for radio or TV.
Many thanks for joining us today Linda. I suspect we are of a similar vintage as I too was a big Monkees fan. If I’m being accurate I really mean Davy Jones fan – a good northern lad. I love that you can’t live without Klippits, I use something similar. What I find more interesting is the comment that they are colour coded. I’m a great colour coder and when I worked as a librarian was infamous for introducing colour coding to the A/V collections. Yves Rocher takes me back as well. I was a big fan in the 80’s when they used to sell primarily by mail order, I’m always tempted by a good skincare package. Here’s hoping for that house by the sea, ideally with a garden so that owning a dog becomes a reality.
Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution – and introduced by her daughter to social networking – she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships …
Meeting Lydia explores the very relevant topics of childhood bullying, midlife crises, the pros and cons of internet relationships, and how the psychological effects of these affect the main character and those around her. Readers will be gripped by the turbulent life of Marianne who navigates the onset of menopause, an empty nest, a suspected errant husband and a demanding new obsession that pulls her in deeper as the story unfolds. Those interested in the psychology of relationships will enjoy this novel, as well as those who delight in an enthralling story with relatable characters and the powerful question of what happens when the past catches up with the present.
When archaeologist Edward Harvey’s wife Felicity inherits almost a million, she gives up her job, buys a restaurant and, as a devotee of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, starts turning their home into a small eco-farm. Edward is not happy, not least because she seems to be losing interest in him. Taryn is a borderline manic-depressive, a scheming minx, a seductress and user of men. Edward and Taryn don’t know each other but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is a former classmate who sends him crazy emails. She is Taryn’s best friend, and when Marianne meets Edward, she tells Taryn how wonderful he is and that he is not the philandering type. Taryn sees a challenge and concocts a devious plan to meet him during a series of lectures he is giving at the British Museum. When Edward and Taryn’s paths cross, questions of friendship, loyalty and betrayal are played out against a backdrop of mental fragility and the destabilising effects of a large inheritance… Set in Broadclyst and Beckenham, with a chapter on the Isles of Scilly, A Meeting of a Different Kind is the stand-alone sequel to Meeting Lydia, continuing the story from the perspectives of two very different characters. Like its prequel, it will appeal to fans of adult fiction, especially those interested in the psychology of relationships.
Former classmates Edward and Marianne, now fifty-five, have experienced a turbulent few years having lost contact with each other and suffered painful disruption to their home lives. Reunited again, this time through Twitter, they set about a search for personal fulfilment, but once again there are obstacles in the way – not least in the form of twice-widowed Jessica, Edward’s neighbour, who threatens to destroy their pursuit of happiness and whose behaviour has alarming consequences.
The extraordinary weather conditions prompt Edward and a former colleague to resurrect an idea for a documentary series that sets to challenge consumerist lifestyles. The Isles of Scilly become a model for sustainability and a filming trip to the islands provides an idyllic backdrop to the unfolding romantic tensions.
Set in 2012, the year of the London Olympics, the action alternates between Broadclyst and Beckenham and examines the difficult issues faced in committing to a new relationship in midlife. Could being alone be a preferable alternative?
Continuing themes of psychology, relationships and environmental sustainability, The Alone Alternative is the sequel to A Meeting of a Different Kind and the third and final part of the ‘Lydia’ series. Written from both male and female perspectives, it also stands alone as a fascinating read for both men and women who enjoy thought-provoking fiction, keeping readers guessing until the very end.
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne.
When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.
The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue.
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