Friday, July 19, 2019

The Big Sky Boys: An Interview with Todd Linder




The Big Sky Boys: An Interview with Todd Linder
by Gina McKnight

From Montana, USA, Todd Linder is the author of the new children’s book The Big Sky Boys and Life on the Spinnin’ Spur (Monday Creek Publishing 2019). Written for ages 7-12, Linder sets the story in the West of bygone years, the Big Sky Boys live and work together on the Spinnin’ Spur ranch along with the ranch cook and Rooster's pet armadillo, Albert. They work the hard life of cowboys, but there’s always a way to have a little fun while working! From bronc busting to birthday parties to making music, you never can tell what will happen. And even though there’s plenty of teasing that goes on, in the end they are the best of partners.

Available in hardcover from Barnes and Noble and all online booksellers, The Big Sky Boys makes a great addition to the buckaroo's library on your list! Cover illustration by Ohio artist Logan Rogers, The Big Sky Boys will become a favorite. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Linder and share his stories…

Welcome, Todd!

GM: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
TL: Gina, I grew up in the relatively early days of television (1950’s, 60’s) and although I will admit to watching some television, I was actually more interested in books. I loved becoming part of the story in my imagination and I was the kid who in fifth grade was caught by the teacher during a math lesson with a book in his lap. By the time I was out of high school I had already read hundreds of books. In college I had decided to become an elementary teacher which allowed me an opportunity to continue reading children’s, middle grade, and young adult books to my students. I would spend about half an hour after student’s lunch time recess reading to them to make a more calm transition to the next academic subject. As I browsed the bookshelves over the years I toyed with the idea of writing my own stories but could never find an illustrator and it was just put on the back burner. When my grandchildren were old enough to listen to my extemporaneous stories at bedtime, my daughter encouraged me to think about writing children’s stories and attempting to publish them. 

GM: What is the premise for your new book Big Sky Boys?
TL: I’ve always been in love with the west and as a kid, westerns were always my favorite shows on television. During my teenage years I had opportunity to work at a horse breeding ranch/ boarding stable sort of place and was able to ride a number of horses including my own. I loved anything cowboy/horse/cattle related and so when it came time to tell my grandkids bedtime stories, they naturally were cowboy stories. The other motivation is that I’m privileged to now live in the great state of Montana which still has a pretty strong cowboy/western culture in most places. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily follow that everybody here wears boots and hats. I will admit however to wearing jeans, boots, and the occasional cowboy hat when possible.


GM:  Who is your favorite author?
TL: I would have to say that one of my favorite children’s authors was Lois Lenski. She depicted rural, agricultural life in the 1940’s and 50’s. I suppose they appealed to me partly because they depicted the old one room schoolhouse which I found fascinating. When I was a boy, I had opportunity to visit them once in a while since my dad taught in two different one room schools in Michigan. My parents both came from farm back rounds and because of that her stories about farm kids in the Dakotas were very relatable to me. I also loved her simple but compelling drawings of farm scenes.

GM: What are you currently reading?
TL: I read a wide variety of books and magazines. I’m currently wading my way through Steven Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage. It covers the Lewis and Clark expedition of the Northwest. It’s a rather controversial topic these days as it relates to “first peoples” but I love history and reading anything about American History.

GM: What are you currently writing?
TL: Well I’ve had a recent hiatus from writing but will be jumping back into it this week. I have two stories going at the moment unrelated to The Big Sky Boys stories. One is what I guess would be a middle grade novel about a young boy who is orphaned in 1930’s Montana and ends up living with an old rancher. I’ve set it near the town of Choteau Montana on the front range of the Rockies. Currently it’s titled Dan T. I also have another story I’m working on which diverges completely from anything western. It follows the life of a young Japanese boy born into a Shinobi (commonly called ninja) family. I intend to finish it as is and then do a rather extensive revision of it. So far, it’s titled The Reluctant Ninja.  I’m not putting any timeline for finishing these. They’re done when they’re done, I guess.  While all this is going on, I’ve also begun to create a sort of mini memoir of the time I spent with the military in the country of Iraq in 2003, 2004 to leave for my family. It’s just some impressions of experiences people and places in that ancient country.


GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas for future stories?
TL: When I begin to consider a new story, I try to come up with a theme or character and then begin to make a sort of outline of what kinds of events should happen. Then I try to flesh out each event and begin to string them together. As I work this process, I’ll often ask for my wife’s ears to listen to segments and get her input. It helps to have another perspective as to what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to idea generation, I am absolutely convinced that the influence of all the children’s books and maybe the hundreds if not thousands of books I’ve read or listened to in audio format have aided in writing. I’m also a firm believer that writers have to continue to read as well as write. Although I’m getting to that “advanced” age I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading good well written children’s literature.

GM: What advice do you have for novice writers?
TL: I would say that even though the industry seems to say you must write for the market, (current trends) I would advise new writers to write what’s on your heart or in your imagination.  There is a part of me that would love to become successful at writing from the financial perspective but even if what I write never sees the light of day and is only a legacy I leave my grandchildren that’s ok.


1 comment:

Becky Foss said...

Todd, your book has just arrived and I haven't read it yet. What aunt (three years older than you)wouldn't be proud of you and your accomplishments. Keep writing!!!

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