Author Interview: Lynda Wolters

Meet Lynda Wolters and read more about her and her book, The Placeholder (Mascot Books – Nov 1, 2022). 

Thelma and Louise meets Eat, Pray, Love meets Me Before You in The Placeholder, an unconventional, unforgettable, unputdownable story of loss and love.

Fresh out of boxed wine and romantic prospects, Serenade Kincaid, a middle-aged attorney in Boise, Idaho, enlists the assistance of Zac, a for-sex-only companion, to ease her loneliness. It’s all fun and games until he gets married, and she falls ill.

With the stakes high, Sera’s friend/boss, Carolyn, takes things into her own hands only to find out that not everything is as it seems.

A great book club selection, The Placeholder is perfect for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Colleen Hoover, and Abbi Waxman. 

An unexpectedly tender story with the panache and steaminess of a romance.” ~ Kirkus Reviews 

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your published book(s).

I am from a tiny farming community in Northern Idaho, 400 people small. I grew up picking rock out of the fields and graduated to driving a truck and then then combine, in harvest. My roots run deep in Idaho, fourth generation. I always enjoyed storytelling, and writing seemed to come naturally to me. It has made my career in the legal field a bit easier for it.

My first book, Voices of Cancer, was born by request following my blog on the Caring Bridge site, where I journaled about my cancer journey. My writing seemed to resonate with others, so I took a stab at telling the world what it was like to go through cancer, what patients think and feel, and what they actually need. The book was remarkably well-received and is now translated into Chinese and given to medical students in the Taiwan area through a grant.

Voices of LGBTQ+ followed along the same premise, telling what those in the community felt, thought, dealt with, and hoped for from others. The book was either loved or hated, which to me was a success. Isn’t it the goal of a writer to make others think, squirm, or question?

Those two books were taxing and left me feeling heavy; they were tough, if not controversial, and I wanted to write a lighter story. So came The Placeholder.

I’ve always heard, “Write what you know,” and I know the characters created in The Placeholder. I am a middle-aged woman, I was single, I did kiss a lot of toads, and I carry a cancer diagnosis – all like Serenade Kincaid in the book.

Tell us about the genre you like to write, and how is it similar / different from other women fiction genres?

When I was storyboarding The Placeholder and reading all the chick lit, women’s fiction type of work I could get my hands on, I realized rather quickly that there isn’t much out there where the protagonist is over 30-ish and certainly not many who aren’t living a well-planned, better than most type of life. I also noticed that it felt annoying that nearly all the books ended with rainbows and unicorns; read, some definition of happily ever after. But that isn’t life, at least not mine, and I really thought there must be many others out there who felt the same. Namely, on the downhill side of fourty+ with lots of experience and wisdom not seen in the standard women’s fiction/chick lit.

I wrote and re-wrote, worked with multiple beta readers, editors, and writing groups, and learned that women want raw, gutsy, realistic middle-aged chick lit. Welcome, The Placeholder.

What are some of the biggest challenges authors of older protagonists face today?

I had to overcome my self-doubt about a middle-aged/older protagonist because all I see, read, and hear, are the young and beautiful. It’s daunting to think about going up against the 20-year-old protagonist when being middle-aged or older is nearly obsolete or at least likely thought of as irrelevant by the hip, popular star culture. Thank you, Grace and Frankie! What a boon to the olders.

Given the ongoing popularity of chick lit, where do you see light-hearted fiction for older readers ten years from now?

I feel that in ten years, the older generation will have found several authors of their kind that will write about fun adventures in life, love, and family that they can relate to. We all tend to gravitate to what we can relate to, and I know I’m not alone in wanting to write about the antics of the middle-aged woman. Heck, we have had decades more experience at being in love, being hurt, being silly, and overcoming than those in their 20s and 30s. And I think many more authors are going to jump on this train, at least I hope.

But, if there is one thing this younger generation is doing for us older folks, it is showing us that social media can be our friend, that it is okay to stand up for yourself wherever you are in life’s journey and to try new things. I give the youngsters a lot of credit – they are so much braver than I was at their tender ages.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve actually always wanted to be a writer. I took a stab at it in high school – the process ended up being a glorified diary of my first boyfriend and kiss, but it sparked an interest in me. And while I didn’t exactly get a fantastic grade in English during those years of self-discovery, I did know I would one day write a novel. (I’d like to point out that when I went to college some umpteen years later, I tested out of having to take English classes with a perfect score. A shout out to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Elvin – I did hear you!)

Do you have a day job other than being a writer?

I do have a day job. I work in a law office as an assistant. It is very mentally stimulating and helps keep my mind sharp, something I desperately needed while going through chemo and its later effects. In all honesty, I wish I could write full time, and I did take about a year off during the writing of The Placeholder and another manuscript I’m working on, but, for now, I’m still working a 9-5.

What are some things that inspire you to write?

As corny as it sounds, the simplest turn of phrase that I hear in everyday conversation can spark a writing idea for me. I find people my inspiration. They are fascinating. I feel like instead of people watching, I people listen. I try to eavesdrop, with class, of course, nothing too overt (think leaning back in my booth at a restaurant to hear the people behind me) because people tell the darndest stories. Life is messy, and people want to be heard. A quote I heard yesterday and wrote down: “He was so happy as if he had been beaten over the head with a rainbow.” Now that’s good inspiration.

What is your typical writing routine like?

I am up and at my computer at 5:30 a.m. every day. During the work week, I end my writing at 6:30 a.m. On the weekends, I often write for 6-8 hours per day.

What kind of message do your book(s) convey to readers?

My Voices books allow the reader within the stated community to feel comradery and for those on the outside of those communities to gain some insight into that life.

The Placeholder is not just about a middle-aged, lily-padding woman looking for mister right, it is about the depth, intensity, and need for solid friendships. I hope the reader learns that whatever their choices in life, they are not defined or doomed by them, that there is hope, even if for a few minutes, that they can have love and feel completely understood.

Does your book(s) incorporate certain aspects of your own life (and / or that of others)?

Oh, my yes, and I can say these things because my husband knows this *wink.* Sera has a lot of my traits. We share a common language of silliness and snark and the same diagnosis.

I think the question I have been asked most thus far by the advanced readers is, “Who is Carolyn?” In my world, Carolyn Scott is named after a dear friend and her husband, using both their first names. The persona of Carolyn is heavily influenced by a dear attorney friend of mine, Michelle. She really was that person who showed up (often unannounced, sometimes unwanted, mostly unexpectedly) throughout my treatment. Michelle did meet my providers and advocate on my behalf, she did let me scream and yell when s*** got real, and she did console me without words when I needed to weep. The most interesting thing for me about the character Carolyn is how writing about her, defined what I don’t think I understood of Michelle until then, that she was my “Wax Sister.” (And yes, the Wax Sisters is real to me and my four high school BFFs. You’ll have to read the book to understand that reference.)

Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I think it’s easier for me to answer who isn’t my favorite author. I am always simply amazed when people write and publish a book, especially now that I have gone through the process. I mean, really, it is grueling, so rewarding, so solitary, and so much of a community effort that I am surprised all authors aren’t half nuts by the time the book is released. Given that, anyone who writes a book and puts it out into the world for the harsh scrutiny of the trolls and critiques – they are a favorite of mine!

Any advice you’d like to give for aspiring writers over 40?

Please just do it. We need you. We want to hear from you; with all your goofy, exciting, terrifying, heart-breaking stories, we want to know we are not alone. And please know, you are our tribe – even if we haven’t met, we are with you. Write. Please.

Connect with Lynda here:

Author of Voices of Cancer |  | The Placeholder

www.lyndawolters.com

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