Linda Stewart Henley, author — An Interview
What happens when an author publishes her first novel during the later years of her life? Of course, she writes the next one! Such is the case with Linda Stewart Henley, award-winning author of Estelle (She Writes Press, 2020). No sooner are we enjoying this historical novel, when we learn she’s publishing Waterbury Winter in May 2022, again with She Writes Press.
Needless to say, I was excited when Linda broke away from her dedicated writing schedule to take part in my research project, focusing on nine writers who published their first books after the age of 60. Since space in my guest blog, Better Later than Never, only allowed a solitary paragraph of the nine authors, I decided to create this series, Women Writers with Wisdom. In this way, I’m able to share with you more of what each author shared with me. Here’s Linda and Estelle.
Estelle is a historical novel that combines a family saga, with romance, mystery, humor, and of course, art. Estelle is Edgar Degas’s Creole cousin and sister-in-law who hosted Degas for five months in New Orleans in 1872-73. While there, Degas paints family portraits that help make him famous. Nearly a hundred years later in 1970, struggling artist, Anne Gautier, finds a journal written by a relative who knew Degas. The two stories intersect, and a painting by Degas of Estelle spells trouble.
Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced in created your first novel after you were 60?
A. Simply stated, by far—the marketing process.
Q. What in your personal experience/career made its way into your story?
A. I attended college in New Orleans and only learned when I was searching for subject matter for my first novel that the artist Degas had spent time in the city with his French Creole relatives. I remembered the street where he stayed, but it had fallen into decay in the 1970s and I was impressed to find out about the gracious Creole lifestyle that Degas’s family enjoyed one hundred years earlier. I really enjoyed revisiting the city again as I wrote the novel.
Q. If you could change anything about your writing life, what would it be and why?
A. Not a thing. I’m on a roll now. I’ll publish my second book, Waterbury Winter, in 2022, and a third is underway.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
A. Go for it!
Q. Any final thoughts about the topic of writers publishing for the first time later in life?
A. We have the benefit of a lifetime of experience to draw from. Even if I’d had the time to write when I was younger, I wouldn’t have felt confident that I had a story worth telling.
When a writer turns prolific author, as Linda has, you know her books are a must-read. Luckily Linda’s books are available as a paperback and an eBook. For your convenience, here is one link.
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