Linda Fifer grew up in Ohio with writers and musicians in her family. She graduated from Kent State University with BS and MA degrees in Speech/Language Pathology, then moved west. She has written a musical, songs, and poems, published locally in Spokane Writes. Now retired, she completed her debut novel, The Road Between Two Skies, an uplifting story of a woman who discovers her strength when faced with demanding challenges. Living in the West with her husband and two dogs, Linda is inspired by the nature surrounding her.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
Because of a bizarre abduction, Brenniss’ promising future is shattered. Her memory loss requires rediscovery of herself, now, as Maggie, in an unfamiliar world. I wanted to use a duality in the title to describe the journeys we sometimes take in finding ourselves. I went through about five title choices until I settled on The Road Between Two Skies. It suggested two places, two existences, but grounded by a road or journey.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
The book cover is stunning! I get so many compliments on it and I have been told that it “draws you in” to open the book. I love the symbolism of the two settings, the main character’s two lives, and the tiny little parts of the story that can be found surrounding the face.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I am inspired by many contemporary women writers such as Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Tyler, Diedre MacNamer, and of course Jodi Picoult. Writers such as Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, and Thomas Hardy shaped my teen years. Writing was a fun and challenging way to be creative for me. I created my first “song” when I was 7 and wrote poems throughout my life. But I never thought about writing a book until this idea of a woman losing her memory following a brutal kidnapping germinated in my brain. I couldn’t let go of it, nor it of me.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I worked for 45 years as a Speech/Language Pathologist with adults in rehab hospitals. Information about Cognitive and Linguistic recovery from trauma was included as part of my storyline.
My readers would not know that I started college at Kent State when I was 17, just 3 months after the shootings at Kent State. We were under martial law those first few months.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
While I never thought about publishing my book as I was writing it, I kept getting positive feedback from my rough-draft readers that encouraged me. Actually getting published allowed my book to be in the hands of readers that have continued their love of the characters and the evolvement of their changes as a result of Brenniss/Maggie’s growth.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
There are several. Philip Aaberg’s How We Miss Them is a melancholy song that fits with Vince’s first few weeks of loss. Aaberg’s Every Deep Dream inspired me thousands of times for Brenniss’ drive to Copper Station. Steve March Torme’s version of Stardust would be a great background jazz piece for Brenniss and Vince’s restaurant dinners. Marc O’Connor’s Appalachian Waltz fits as background after the first Grace meal when Riley and Maggie sit on the porch, while Glenn MacPherson’s Full Moon was a lovely tune for Maggie and Riley working the horses. And I will be forever grateful to Josh Groben’s Granted for encouraging me to take this risk.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
I hope readers find this to be an uplifting story that will resonate about surviving and overcoming. The perfect reader will see Brenniss/Maggie’s evolvement as well as Hannah, Griff, and Riley being forever changed by Maggie’s interaction with them.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I have a second book I’m editing (AGAIN!) called Discovering the Grain, which is about a female Army soldier discharged from service following the Afghan war and managing a new life without her husband who was killed weeks before his discharge. The book focuses on PTSD and the transition to civilian life without a life partner there to complete their dreams together. Another book in the works is Jesus Lemonade, which is about a young girl in the 1930s who accidentally created a movement by mixing Holy Water with Lemonade. And I have several others that are begging my attention.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
I am thrilled to be part of the Atmosphere Press family. From day one, I was treated with respect, kindness, and unwavering support. I had been cautious about self-publishing due to several unsavory companies out there, but Atmosphere had professionals guiding me, providing honest and helpful feedback that molded and crafted the book I have today. I am proud of my accomplishments, but always know it was totally a group effort. Thank you, Atmosphere Press!