My BFF writing friend and critique partner, M.L. Rigdon/Julia Donner has her book, The Atlantis Crystal, on sale right now for 99 cents. It’s a pretty darn fun read. So I took this time to pick her versatile head. Her mind jumps from Regency romances, to Western historicals, to mad cap adventure. And they all have her unique stamp on them. Check out what motivates her to write:
What gave you the idea for The Atlantis Crystal?
I have always been an Atlantis and ancient history freak and merged that with my respect for geeks. (My first TV crush was Wally Cox. It’s doubtful anybody remembers him.) I also admired the smart people in school. I had to work hard for my mediocre grades. Not a test-taker myself, unless it was essay, so the mental workings of brainy types were a source of fascination.
Also, I like fearlessness and got fed up with guys always being the ones getting to swing on the vines. Gimme some warrior, like Boadicea kicking Roman butt. Can’t tell you how long I stood staring up at her statue on Westminster Bridge. Indy Jones is fun, but I wanted a heroine more focused and flawed. She had to come with the emotional baggage women haul around and only forget about when driven by something else.
Dr. Philadelphia Hafeldt (don’t call her Philly) was molded from being the neglected child of two academic types—a reclusive father and ball-buster mother. She’s not confident in herself but trusts her intellect. She adores her archeologist uncle who encouraged her to explore. When he disappears, nothing will stop her from finding him, even though it means going back into a labyrinth where she was trapped when a girl and almost died.
What excites you about characters and plots?
Their humanity. They have to be interesting, not necessarily complex, just something that captures my interest, especially humor. Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City Series comes to mind, a lot of quirky personalities with quick wit.
What makes you impatient with a story that is enough for you to set it aside, unfinished?
Huge mistakes and sloppy work. This shows a sign of disrespect for the craft that messes up my head. Typos here and there won’t make me stop. I’ve even continued with stories with totally gummed up formatting because I was so invested in the people and plot. Bloopers can make me laugh, such as coming into the room, shutting the door, sitting down to chat, and then somebody gets up to close the door. (This from a massively famous writer.) I just chuckled and kept reading. Or if it’s just boring. There are masses of wonderful things to read.
What did you like to read as a child?
Horses and dogs. All of Walter Farley. Lugged home armloads of books from the library during the summer. I wasn’t the history reader that I am now. I spent my early years surrounded in post Civil War history in my aunt’s museum in Galena, IL. Later in my teens, it was mostly the classics. Often I was too young to understand but became hooked on the characters, all that angst.
What are you reading now?
Mostly books my friends have written. Our writing group and extended writing community have so many talented storytellers of varied genres. Just got to beta read Judi Lynn’s newest. It’s smashing and made me mad whenever I had to stop to make notes.
I’m always rereading Austen and fact checking history. At present finishing up a terrific nonfiction work, Jane Austen at Home, by Lucy Worsley. I don’t read fantasy if I’m writing it, but loved Anne McCaffrey Pern series when I was younger.
What are you working on now?
I must be nuts—four are started; the second in a fantasy trilogy, the fourteenth in the regency series, the third in a western romance, and I’m juggling ideas for the final Phil, Rod, Maddie and Binky adventure. Oh, and a regency mystery short for an anthology.
Never mind, I am definitely nuts. And I love my character babies, especially Phil, her insecurities and courage, her disbelief that a man like Rod finds her fascinating, when she sees herself as a train wreck. But then, we all know that it could have something to do with sex, and that can keep things interesting.
My contact info:
M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML