Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden

I’ve been thinking about February because it was one year ago this month that I self-published my first book Lemonade and Holy Stuff.  It was my maiden voyage into publishing and I wanted to do something awesome to celebrate this milestone in my life.  I also wanted to pair that with my desire to always give back, to pay forward whatever goodness comes my way.  So, my goal became simple.  It was time to give away some goodness to a lucky reader, and that goodness needed to lift up a fellow writer.

I decided to interview my friend Theresa Linden.  She is an author who is local to my area.  I met her through our library’s writer’s group.  And I am beyond grateful that I did.  She is a shy, mother of three awesome kids.  She is whip smart and crazy talented.  This past November she published her first book Chasing Liberty.

Used with permission of the author.

Used with permission of the author.

From the back cover:

Liberty 554-062466-84 of Aldonia lives in a responsible society that cares for the earth and everyone on it. They have learned to balance resource consumption with replacement initiatives, unavoidable pollution with clean-environment efforts. Science ensures that every baby born is healthy. The government ensures that every baby born is needed. All are cared for, taught, and given a specific duty to perform, their unique contribution to society. Why is Liberty so unsatisfied?  In less than two weeks, Liberty must begin her vocation. Every girl in Aldonia wishes she had Liberty’s vocation. Liberty would rather flee from Aldonia and live on her own, independent of the all-controlling government, the Regimen Custodia Terra. The high electrical Boundary Fence crushes any thought of escape. The ID implant imbedded in her hand makes it impossible to hide. She has no choice but to submit. Liberty is slated to be a Breeder. As vocation day draws near, a man with an obsession for Liberty attacks her and injects her with a drug. She’s about to lose consciousness when someone comes to her rescue, a man in a mottled cape and dark glasses. She wakes in an underground facility where people watch over Aldonia with an array of monitors and surveillance equipment. These people are full of secrets, but she discovers one thing: they rescue a man scheduled for re-education. They rescued him. They can rescue her.

There’s also a book trailer you can watch.


I gave Theresa a list of questions to help you get to know her, her writing, and her process a little better.

Where did you get the idea for Chasing Liberty?
I am one of those people who shouts at the TV when I watch the news. I can’t believe some of the things that are going on in our world. I’ve discovered actual groups that consider all life forms equal: a human has no more value than a mushroom. I’ve learned about new proposed laws, questionable scientific developments, and invasive uses of technology. Developments in morality and ethics do not seem to be on a par. Faith, family and freedom are often under attack. I can’t help but wonder where we are headed. As I writer, I don’t just wonder. I write! In a way, this story emphasizes the importance of faith, family and freedom by showing a society that has lost all three, a society where the earth has been elevated above people.

What character in your book do you love to hate and why?
I’m torn between Sid and Dr. Supero. Both of these characters are extremely selfish. Sid is obsessed with Liberty and will do anything to be with her, but he doesn’t really love her in a way that puts the other first. He doesn’t care what she wants.
And then there’s Dr. Supero, a master in warped ideologies. Vain, arrogant and closed-minded, he feels the need to control everything and resents that he can’t control Liberty. When he receives traumatic personal news, instead of facing his situation, he transfers his anger to Liberty.

Is there a sequel to Chasing Liberty and if so, what can readers expect?
Chasing Liberty is the first in a trilogy. The second book nears completion and the third is in outline form. You can expect even more action in the second book, Testing Liberty. The 3-D games mentioned in Chasing Liberty become an important part of Testing Liberty. We will learn more about Liberty, her experiences growing up under the RCT, and how she met Sid. We will also discover more about the Torva and Dedrick’s most uncomfortable encounter with them.

If there’s one message you want readers to walk away with after reading Chasing Liberty, what is it?
I didn’t write with a message in mind, but I see a message in my story. Americans have always valued freedom and have seen it as a God-given right. Our country was founded on it, but it isn’t something we should take for granted. When a government is allowed to grow too big, it can threaten the freedom of the individual. I suppose the message in my story is to question everything in our culture, weighing things in the balance, so to speak. There are things in our culture, many brought about by our government, that degrade rather than protect the individual, the family, and our God-given rights. Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

What piece of advice would you give an aspiring fiction writer about crafting characters? For instance, how much do you plan out beforehand and how much just comes to you as you write?
I love creating characters! I believe it is important to develop a good character profile for each main and secondary character before beginning to write. Main characters need to have likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, a past and goals. They also become more realistic when they have a habit(s) or idiosyncrasies that a reader can relate to or find humorous. I have even gone so far as to conduct character interviews so I can learn how they think. I want to see everything from a particular character’s frame of mind, recalling his or her memories as the story unfolds and reacting in ways unique to the character. When I can slip into a character’s mind and think his or her thoughts for the scene, I’m ready to write.
I am sure that I must be a sight to my family when they see me writing, my face contorting with the mood of my point of view character. “What’s the matter, dear?” “What?” I snap out of character and smile. “You look mad.” “No, I’m not mad. Liberty is.”

What is the hardest part about writing for you?
As a wife, homeschooler and mother of three boys, finding uninterrupted time is always a challenge. That aside, I find the research the hardest part because it is so time-consuming. Then I want to make sure my story is going to work before I begin writing, so creating a solid outline is the second hardest part.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes and no. I write at the table in our dining room, so first, I clear the table of every distraction. Then I get something to drink: coffee, tea or water. Depending upon the stage of writing, I turn on some music—I do this when I’m ready to go deep into character and write a scene.
But then again, I think I can write anywhere, anytime. Once our van broke down and left me stranded three hours from home. I had to wait for my husband to pick me up, so I borrowed sheets of paper and a pen from a nearby shop and wrote my heart out in the back of our van!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about writing so far?
Hmmm. I have learned so many lessons that feel vital to the craft. So many facets must come together to make the work shine. I believe the most important lesson I’ve learned is to work hard on developing a good story with a solid plot and interesting characters. It saves time and frustration when the research and outlining are done in advance, so that I go into the story with a general idea of what happens. I say ‘general’ because characters don’t always stick to the plot, so it’s important to allow room for deviation.

So, your dream as a writer:
My dream . . . I’m sitting at a comfortable desk in front of a new computer. Maps, diagrams and pictures related to my stories hang on three walls. A bookshelf lines the fourth wall, holding reference materials and writing books, and books by all my favorite authors and by new authors. A glass door opens to a balcony that overlooks a lush garden . . .
Or . . . I would be satisfied just to be able to write all the stories that are in my mind, get them published, and find my audience. Every book is not for every person. I really want to find the people who would enjoy my stories as much as I do. I think that’s what every author wants. You want to find your readers and make them happy!

In an effort to help Theresa realize at least a portion of her dream, I’m going to give one lucky reader of this blog a free copy of Chasing Liberty!!!!  Entering to win is super simple.  1.  Comment “I want in” at the bottom of this post.  2. Simply share this post with the hashtag #LindenLiberty and be sure to tag me @MirandaGargasz.    Each share gets your name entered into a hat and one lucky winner will be drawn on Valentine’s Day.  Get to sharing and win this amazing book!!!!!

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Do what scares you

How many times have I heard that?  As a writer and an introvert the list of ideas that scares me is long and intimidating.

When I decided to throw my hat into the writer’s ring, I did so tentatively, cautiously.  I acted on my desire to write since childhood, a dream I abandoned as a teenager because I thought I’d never be able to make a living at it.  Writing was the one gift that I was given that I truly loved, and I wanted to share that gift with the world.  Just the thought of that vulnerability, exposing the soft underbelly of what little talent I may have, was almost debilitating in its scariness.

My first blog scared the shit out of me in the beginning.  I perched my hands on the edge of the keyboard scared to death that not only would I not earn any readers, but I’d be the laughing-stock of the internet.  At my husband’s urging, I did it.  And I don’t regret it.

I began Scattering Moments in 2011.  It wasn’t a great blog but it was good.  I met quite a few writer friends there and I learned a lot about what writing my audience liked and what my strengths as a writer were.  Eventually, I closed that site down because I hadn’t quite learned what I should hold back on a blog and what I needed to keep for publication.

I joined our local library’s writer’s group and, excited as I was, I was terrified to share what I had written.  I was intimidated by the other members at first because a couple of them actually went to college to hone their craft.  I hadn’t done that.  My degree was in Elementary Education.  What if I went there and they heard what I had written and thought I wasn’t much of an attribute for their group?  What was I, really?  I felt like a washed-up failure of a teacher who dipped her toe into the Mommy Blogging universe because being a stay-at-home-mom was driving me bat shit crazy. It turned out that all the worry was for naught.  Not only did I actually have something to give the group, the feedback I got from the essays I shared helped bolster my self-esteem and gave me the courage I needed to keep going.  It gave me the courage to publish my first book, Lemonade and Holy Stuff:  Collected Essays.

Lemonade and Holy Stuff‘s publication has been such a gift for me.  Not only do I feel vindicated as a writer because so many readers have loved it, but I also met an amazing string of women writers as a result.  I really feel as if I’ve found my tribe with writers like Sarah Cottrell, Tori Nelson, Lisa Kramer, Kathryn McCullough, Theresa Linden and so very many more.  (Please click on their names to check out their work.  They are amazing women.)

Because I believe that doing what scares us is also what helps us grow, I’m sticking my neck out again.  This Saturday, armed with an essay and my much more travel friendly husband (I get lost after the end of my street), I’m going to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  There I will meet the folks in charge of that city’s incarnation of Listen To Your Mother, a professional show that lends a voice to motherhood.  I will be auditioning.

My knees are knocking.

I’m losing sleep because I’m terrified.

But, I’m doing it.  I’m going to share my story before an audience of people.  I’m hoping to come back with an invitation to be part of the experience. Even if I don’t, that’s okay.  The only true failure is in never trying, and that simply will not do.