In Every Broken Trust, life has settled into routine for half-Cherokee Marquitta “Skeet” Bannion now that she’s gained custody of fifteen-year-old Brian Jameson—until a party at her house ends in a killing and an attack on Skeet’s best friend, Karen Wise, after a drunken man claims that Karen’s husband’s accidental death years earlier was murder.
Brian’s friendship with a politician’s rebellious daughter and Karen’s fixation on finding her husband’s murderer frustrate Skeet’s efforts to keep them both safe while she tracks down the killer. Not knowing who she can trust any longer, Skeet struggles against the clock to solve a series of linked murders before she loses Brian forever and her best friend winds up in jail—or dead.
Crimespree Magazine said of it, “The first Skeet Bannion showed great promise for a series featuring a strong and complicated heroine. This sophomore effort cements Linda Rodriguez as a writer whose promise has been made good. Damn good book.”
Linda elected to take our Deb Ball interview and has offered to send one lucky commenter a copy of Every Last Secret—more details at the end of this post! Welcome, Linda!
What’s your secret or not-so-secret superpower?
I can count. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much of a superpower, but this counting got amazing results. When my youngest son was small, if I’d had to tell him too many times to do something or if he was dragging his feet at having to get dressed/clean his room/do his chores, I would threaten him. “If you don’t [do whatever it was], I’m going to count.” And I’d begin the slow, deliberate countdown—one, two, three… He would immediately scramble around to do what he was supposed to, crying, “No, Mami, don’t count. I’m doing it. I’m doing it.”
There was never any threat of what number I’d count to or what would happen to him when I reached it. The only threat I needed was “I’ll count.” It worked even as he got older, clear into his teen years. He says now, as an adult, that he doesn’t know why it sent him into such a panic, but it seemed “ominous.” It was the only punishment I ever had to threaten or give—“Do it, or I’ll count.”
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I fight dirty. Most people don’t know about this because I avoid fighting. I’m the peacemaker, the diplomat. But many years ago, I was a teenage hippie living in crash pads, and I learned some street survival skills. One of them was that, if you have to fight (and it’ll usually be against someone bigger and stronger), use anything you can lay your hands on. Smash a lamp over your opponent’s head. Whip a pole around into your opponent’s legs. I actually won a fight with a Hell’s Angel who had beaten up my boyfriend. You really don’t want to fight me. Fortunately, I haven’t had to fight anyone in decades.
Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?
I wrote a fantasy novel that was accepted over twenty years ago by a major trade house after some revision. Just as we were to go to contract, my editor left the house, and my manuscript was dumped back on my doorstep. It was then that I learned about “orphan book syndrome” and the way a book becomes unpublishable when your editor leaves before contract. If it were to be a hit, the old editor would get all the credit, and if it were to be a failure, the new editor would get all the blame. Consequently, editors don’t want to touch these books—and who can blame them.
I love to read fantasy and science fiction and have written another fantasy novel that my agent will be submitting to publishers soon. If it ends up being published, it will be the final remedy to a deep hurt incurred many years ago.
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
I have had this opportunity several times. As a poet, I loved the work of Gwendolyn Brooks. Twenty-five years ago, I had the chance to meet her, get to know her, and meet her again several times over the years after that. She was so warm and encouraging, just an incredible woman, and I was truly grief-stricken when she died.
I had long idolized the writer and activist, Sandra Cisneros, and her work. One day, I had the chance to meet her, and we became good friends, still are. This was such a miraculous opportunity. Sandra is one of the most spiritually developed people I know, as well as funny and smart. She used her MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” to establish a supportive community for writers and to set up grants and awards to give to writers who give back to their communities. I was fortunate enough to receive one and to call Sandra my friend.
In other situations, people I have known and been close to have afterward gained great fame. The most recent example is the poet, Richard Blanco, who wrote and read the inaugural poem for the second inauguration of President Obama. Richard is an old friend and is experiencing an almost bewildering amount of fame right now. It’s fun to see my talented friend coming into his own.
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why that person?
Yes, I do have a first reader. But nobody sees my work until I’ve revised it and revised it. When I’ve taken it as far as I can go, when I know there are still things wrong with it but I can’t pinpoint them, I give it to my husband to read. I know. That’s what everyone says never to do. However, my husband Ben is an editor who runs a university press as his day job and his own award-winning small literary press as his avocation. He’s the best editor I know, and there are important writers all over the country who agree with me on that.
When we married, we made an agreement. We were each getting a good editor out of the deal. We promised to always be completely honest with each other about the work that the other showed to us for comment. And we’ve kept that promise without either of us ever having to sleep on the sofa. I was Ben’s first reader for his dissertation and then for his scholarly book on Jewish theater and film. He’s been my first reader on all six of my books—a cookbook, two books of poetry, and three novels (counting the one that’s in production now for a May publication date). Marrying Ben was the smartest thing I ever did.
Thank you for having me here today! And best of luck to all of you as your debuts launch!
You’re welcome, Linda! So, readers, tell us about your superpowers. Come on, we know you’ve got some!
GIVEAWAY! Comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, November 7, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Every Last Secret. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck! (U.S. addresses only, please.)
Linda Rodriguez’s novels, Every Broken Trust and Every Last Secret, and books of poetry, Skin Hunger and Heart’s Migration, received many awards, including Malice Domestic Best First Novel, Midwest Voices & Visions Award, International Latino Book Award finalist, Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Eric Hoffer National Book Award finalist, Ragdale and Macondo fellowships.
To learn more about Linda Rodriguez and her books or read her blog, visit her website http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com. You will also find Linda on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LindaRodriguezWrites and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rodriguez_linda.