How long have you been a writer?
I've been writing since I was a few years old, waking my mother up in the middle of the night to scribble down my musings. Since college (at the University of Minnesota) I have been a professional writer, primarily in training and marketing. In 1982 I went into the entertainment industry and co-authored the screenplay for the Paramount Pictures release That Was Then, This Is Now, starring Morgan Freeman and Emilio Estevez. I also produced the movie. My recent thriller, The Shekinah Legacy, is my first novel.
Do you have a "day job," or is being an author your career?
I still work as a communications professional and business consultant, developing marketing plans, creating ads and commercials, rebuilding brands, and helping start-up organizations move forward with a strategic vision and plan.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
When I was very young, my father showed me his collection of first edition Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to write great adventures like that. So I started ... and tried hard ... and found out how difficult it is to write good stories well. Over the years I continued to hone my craft in creative writing, and finally published my first novel in 2012.
Please give a brief description/storyline about The Shekinah Legacy.
The Shekinah Legacy is on one hand a touching human drama about a star international news journalist, Charlotte Ansari, and her difficult relationship with her brilliant but challenging 13-year-old Asperger's son. The story becomes a riveting thriller as the two become involved in a dangerous attempt to solve the disappearance of Charlotte's mother thirty years earlier, and to save the woman's life after she resurfaces in a cryptic email begging for help. The coded message catapults Charlotte and her son on a dangerous mission to India and Kashmir to find the only secrets that can save the old woman's life. Their search uncovers the astonishing truth about Charlotte's mother and disrupts the plans of powerful, unseen forces.
The secrets that are at the heart of this thriller are heartfelt elements of faith for Christians around the world - so heartfelt that many people will risk their lives to protect the 'truth' of the secrets as they see it. In this provocative novel, two religious relics reveal their true power to influence the world as forces on every side - the CIA, Mossad, Vatican intelligence, Evangelicals, Islamic terrorists, and hired assassins - all battle for possession of the objects for very different purposes. In The Shekinah Legacy, author Lindberg uses the form of the thriller to explore the limits and perils of belief.
What was the inspiration for this story?
While absentmindedly surfing the Web one evening, I came upon a website about a shrine in Srinigar, Kashmir, that purportedly held a secret that, if true, would blow the lid off traditional Christian beliefs. The facts are, of course, open to interpretation, but I started wondering - what if they could be scientifically proven? I knew I had the makings of a powerful thriller here. I couldn't let it go until the story worked itself out in my mind. The shrine exists. But the story is fiction.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
At first, exhilarating. But then, very quickly, terrifying. What if everyone hated it? This was my first novel, after all. Since then, of course, it's received many rave reviews and was the Most Popular thriller on Amazon, and the #2 Bestseller on Amazon in April, 2012.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
My first published novel was a thriller, but the first novel I wrote was historical fiction. These are the two categories that appeal to me. I hope to publish a second thriller and my historical novel later this year.
What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
I loved Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow because of the masterful blend of characterizations and imaginative storytelling. And of course the original Tarzan series of novels, which started me on my writer's journey. I also very much liked John Updike's Rabbit books for their powerful writing. And just about anything by Nabokov. I guess I'm drawn by literary writing, as none of these are thrillers. Strong writing is the appeal.
Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?
I write all over the place. I have an office in my basement that offers the solitude I need from time to time. But I've worked on my books in the car while traveling, at other people's homes (I can be quite a bore, I'm sure), on airplanes, in coffee shops - you name it. Still, I prefer my home office because all my research materials are there.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
The ideas for my books usually come out of research, or material I've stumbled upon. My books tend to deal with the power of belief to cause people to take unexpected actions. I've discovered it doesn't really matter if the facts are true - it's what a person "believes" to be true that's important.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
As a professional business writer, I learned to write on demand. I usually set myself deadlines for completing a certain amount of writing in a specific time frame. If I waited for inspiration, I'd probably never write. The act of writing itself is the inspiration I need. I don't think I've ever experienced "writer's block." I just start writing, and all of a sudden the ideas are flowing.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I find great pleasure when my characters start to talk back to me and refuse to do what I planned for them to do. The more this happens, the more I know that I'm on to something good. With all of my books so far, I've started out with a general flow of the story in my head, but then the characters have veered off and totally surprised me many times. What fun! To be surprised at one's own story. I get to be the first "reader" of my novels.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
I love reading, music, and travel. To me, travel is not only pleasurable, but presents a lot of good material and characters for my books. I could not have written The Shekinah Legacy if I had not traveled around the world and spent a great deal of time in India. The people and places I encountered there show up in my first thriller.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
To ignore the old axiom that you should only "write what you know." What fun is that? If I can't research and learn new stuff, and then write about it, I'll give up writing. The best part of writing is the learning.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
Having the ability to spend most of one's time writing.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
My second thriller is a sequel to The Shekinah Legacy. Readers told me they couldn't figure out how a sequel was possible, so of course I took that as a challenge.
In the first book, Charlotte Ansari is on a treasure hunt while pursued by all manner of villains. But she is protected by a "Guardian Angel," who is actually a professional assassin hired to keep her alive. She doesn't like to admit it, but she falls for the guy. It's probably the only authentic relationship she's ever had.
In the sequel, the assassin is ordered to, well, assassinate Charlotte because her investigative reporting has gotten too close to his employer's secrets.
This book, not yet titled, will be released late in 2012. I'm terribly excited about it, as I think the story is even stronger than the first thriller, and the characters go through many different kinds of crises. I'm almost two-thirds through the drafting right now.
Thank you Gary for allowing me the opportunity to interview you on Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and for taking the time to share some things about you and your writing career with us!
About The Author:
Gary Lindberg traveled around the world to research this story. As a writer and film producer/director, he has won over one hundred major national and international awards. He is the co-writer and producer of the Paramount Pictures feature film That Was Then, This Is Now starring Emilio Estevez and Morgan Freeman. The Shekinah Legacy is his first published novel. He lives in Minnesota wit his wife, Gloria, and his Jack Russell terrier Fletcher.
BUY THE BOOK: The Shekinah Legacy
BARNES & NOBLE
Virtual Book Tour Event: On Friday and Saturday, July 6-7, 2012, author Gary Lindberg participated in a two day virtual book event with an Author Guest Post and Author Interview on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.
Book Description: The Shekinah Legacy
In this controversial Amazon best-selling thriller, international cable TV journalist Charlotte Ansari and her Asperger's son are caught literally in the crossfire of history when terrorists, the CIA, Mossad and the Vatican all converge in a pulse-pounding search for relics that could forever change the balance of power in the world.
Three decades ago, Charlotte's mother suddenly vanished with no trace. The mystery was never solved. Then suddenly, on the same day that Charlotte's home is attacked by terrorists, her son receives an email from the grandmother that he has never known. The coded message catapults Charlotte and her son on a dangerous mission to India and Kashmir to find the only objects that can save the old woman's life. Unfortunately, Charlotte and her autistic son don't know what they are looking for.
The Shekinah Legacy is a thriller in the tradition of Dan Brown, Steve Berry and James Rollins. In this provocative novel, author Gary Lindberg uses the form of the thriller to explore the limits and perils of belief.
Book Excerpt: The Shekinah Legacy